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COMMENTARY: Matt Ryan more transparent than ever

The longtime Atlanta Falcon quarterback is opening up on thoughts he's had for a while now.

His only regret is he didn't do it sooner.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan told media members on Tuesday he wasn't worried about receiving positive or negative feedback on speaking out during the public outrage surrounding the death of George Floyd.

The issues of racial injustice and police brutality have existed for as long as America has, but the viral murders of this era really began with Trayvon Martin in 2012. For most of the last eight years since Martin's death, the public has heard little-to-nothing on Ryan's thoughts on the issues. On Tuesday's call, however, Ryan revealed he often had the talks about profiling and dealing with police with teammates in the locker room. He said the conversations surprised him and changed his perspective on the matter.

For some reason, he still kept his revelation to himself. Perhaps it was out of fear of public scrutiny or losing brand deals. Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson once said he stayed away from speaking on politics and religion publicly.

"Because there can be a 'right' or 'wrong,' or a 'yes' or 'no,' but in reality, everyone's going to have their own opinions," Watson said. "So you're fighting a battle that you can't win."

Fast forward to the current protests, and Watson has been on the frontlines of vocal NFL stars demanding a statement from the league and for alma mater, Clemson University, to take down a confederate monument on campus.

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The reason why Ryan didn't speak up sooner is all speculation at this point, but he's in the game now. As of Thursday morning, he has raised over $1.1 million in efforts to advance the black community in Atlanta. He's made multiple posts in solidarity with the black community, identifying a pattern of injustice and wrongful deaths and he's advocated to end the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick.

Giving back to Atlanta has always been a passion of Ryan's. In an interview with Joe Montana published before the national protests, he said he partnered with an organization to still feed students who relied on school to receive two meals a day once everyone was sent to virtual courses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He also assisted Atlanta residents in the restaurant industry who have been affected by the pandemic.

"There's a sense of community in the city that we're part of," Ryan said. "People talk about 'southern hospitality,' but it's real. It exists there, and you feel it. They've been so good to us for the 12 years we've been there, we try to make them feel that love back."

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