Matt Ryan, the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is expected to become the NFL's next $100 million quarterback with his new contract. He knows high expectations come with that much money.
"I think there's always a responsibility as a professional athlete to make sure that you're living up to your end of the contract," he told "Off The Cuff". "I've always put a lot of pressure on myself, and had high expectations for myself, regardless of what the contract was going to be. It's not something I think about when I'm training, or playing," he said.
The $66 million contract Ryan signed in 2008 expires after the 2013 season. His first big purchase? An expensive bed, which he said he still uses.
Ryan said he's very conscious of staying healthy enough to keep playing. "With all of the information, and all of the research that has been done in regards to concussions, you'd have to be more aware of the effects that it has on you long term. Because everybody's career is going to come to an end at some point. I think the NFL has done a great job in terms of player safety and protecting players, more so now than they ever have in the past," he said.
Despite his concerns about concussions – it was a mundane health problem that Ryan may never quite live down. It happened at the end of a Boston College football game. Ryan had thrown two touchdowns and helped the Eagles defeat Virginia Tech, but with eight seconds remaining, he vomited on the sidelines. The so-called "victory vomit" was caught on camera, in full Technicolor.
"When the cameras always on you it catches a lot of different things. In my defense, I was sick at the time," he laughed. "Bad flu that week and just happened to be playing the game that night."
When asked about NBA center Jason Collins' decision to come out last month, and to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, Ryan was supportive. "Good for him. I think everybody should feel free to be who they are. I'm happy that he chose to do it," he said. "I'd be in support if it were a teammate of mine with whatever their orientation was moving forward. So I'm certain that it'll happen (in the NFL)."