MATT: Alright Ryan, we are certainly glad you could do this with us. Let’s jump right into the questions. I suppose the first question might obvious – What made you decide now was the time to retire?
RYAN: The Peace and Joy in my life has grown to the point where I want to constantly enjoy it. Time with my Kids, Wife, friends and Family. I’ve gotten everything I ever wanted from the game of football, and football took everything I had. It’s time to enjoy the fruits of that Labor.
MATT: Easily! I think it’s well deserved. That being said, quite a few people would tell us both that the Steelers are set to be a contender once again this coming season. Did that make it harder on you to decide to retire at all?
RYAN: Absolutely. The Steelers, with as far as we got last year, knowing the talent returning, it definitely made it hard to retire. More than the chance to win another ring though, the coaches and teammates I had in Pittsburgh really are friends I’ll have for life. Some of the best people in the league. That made it hard. But, I know they are happy that I’ve made the best decision for me.
MATT: Your former teammate, Chris Hubbard, certainly had kind words about your experience together. That’s great to hear. Let’s talk about your former Offensive Line Coach, Mike Munchak. First, he’s already an NFL Hall of Fame player at the position(s) he’s coaching. Secondly, the NFL as a whole seems to respect him. Heck, Steelers fans love him and are in fear of him getting hired with another team! He clearly knows his craft. What was it like getting coached by him?
RYAN: Coach Munchak is the best Offensive Line coach I’ve had in the NFL. He understands so much of the game, because he played it at the highest levels. Because of his personal success, he also has the highest expectations for you, on and of the field. It’s truly a privilege if you’re a player and you can be coached by him.
MATT: Who better to coach you than someone who went through the same thing? Now, who do you consider to be the best lineman you’ve played beside in your career?
RYAN: Every lineman I’ve played next to has been Great. Great Players, Great people, great experiences.
MATT: That’s a fair response! With multiple stops in your career, which city did you enjoy best? Not necessarily regarding football, but living in the city for you and your family?
RYAN: I was fortunate that I played for some of the best organizations, in some of the best cities in this country. Each city was great for different reasons. I was drafted to, released from, and then resigned back to win a Super Bowl in Denver. Pittsburgh, a team and city I had my first start in and played my last NFL Game, is a full circle tour that was amazing for my family and I. We had our son in Houston. The most growth I experienced was in Kansas City. They all carry significance to me.
MATT: That’s great! You’ll hear of players dreading their time in a certain city, but it sounds like you enjoyed each one very much in their own individual ways! During your time in the league, you unfortunately had multiple injuries. What advice would you give a hypothetical young player, such as a rookie, that just sustained a year-long injury like an ACL tear?
RYAN: Believe in yourself, eat right, celebrate small successes, and don’t look too far down the road! Take it one day at a time.
MATT: That’s excellent advice! I’m sure any young player would take what you said to heart. Every locker room has a veteran leader or has a certain amount of vets who are the locker room leaders. Out of all the players that you played with, if I put you on the spot, who would you say stands out the most as a leader and why?
RYAN: I’ve played with some of the best leaders. Each of them prepares differently, and all of them lead by example. The best thing you can do as a leader comes from engaging with those you are leading. That’s when bonds are formed.
MATT: Inspiring words, Ryan! With the NFL Draft only about a month away, I feel a question about that is relevant. You were drafted in the the third round of the draft in 2007. You get a very small idea in which round you’ll get drafted in ahead of time, but obviously that isn’t saying much. You could drop further than you expected, or you could go a lot sooner than you thought you would. What advice would you give these draft prospects about the anticipation and nervousness they must currently be having?
RYAN: Only one pick in the draft goes as high as they think they should. (In reference to being drafted first overall in a draft) Be grateful for the opportunity to prove yourself at the highest level. No matter where you are drafted, you can make a difference. And last but not least, SAVE YOUR MONEY. Save $80 for every $100 you make and learn how to invest.
MATT: I’ve personally read that one of the best things you can do is hire an accountant! Anyway, I actually had a question for you myself. Recently, as these interviews have gotten a bit more popular, I’ve had to get in contact with different sports agencies to inquire about the players they represent. As I’m sure you can imagine, some of them have been great, others weren’t exactly super sweet. During your career, were you represented by the same Sports Agency the entire time? If so, were they good to work with? If not, did you have any issues that made you change agents?
RYAN: I was lucky to be represented by the great Agent Eugene Parker until his death. Eugene did so much for me, my family, and my future. I was always happy. He was one of the few people who I could talk to comfortably, while knowing he would represent our conversations with firmness and class to the teams I played for. He also taught me and gave me advice on how to be a father, a husband, and a Man. I am forever grateful for his representation.
MATT: That’s fantastic that you had that kind of relationship. We’ve got just one last question for you. I’m going to give you a hypothetical. My condolences for the loss of your friend. Let’s say 100 years from now, NFL scholars are looking back at your time in the league. In just three sentences, what would they have to say about you?
RYAN: He was a champion. He Persevered. He had fun every day.
MATT: Great answer! Well, that brings us to the end of our little interview! Unless you’ve got something you’d like to add, we’d like to genuinely thank you for your time! We hope that you enjoyed yourself, and perhaps we could work together again in the future in some capacity! We hope that you enjoy your retirement. Have a great one, Ryan!
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