By Matthew Asher
Steven Matt Bryant, Kicker #3
Hometown: Orange, Texas
Experience: 11 years
Matt Bryant’s path to the Atlanta Falcons is one most people could never imagine. His journey began in Orange, Texas. Since graduating high school in the 90s, Bryant has played football throughout the country and even in Europe as a member of six different leagues, including Arena Football and NFL Europe.
Bryant attended Bridge City High School in Texas where he played both football and baseball and still has the record for longest field goal (52 yards). After graduating high school Bryant went to Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. As a member of the football team, Bryant was a two-time NJCAA All-American and played on the 1994 national championship team.
After junior college, Bryant originally signed to go to Oregon State University, but transferred to Baylor. As a member of the Bears Matt is ranked seventh on the all-time scoring list with 105 points (21 field goals and 42 extra points). The 21 field goals are the fifth most all-time at Baylor and Bryant’s 42-42 extra point attempts is the highest percentage in school history.
Despite his accuracy, Bryant went undrafted. Putting football on the back burner, he spent several years working at a pawn shop and then became a personal trainer.
In 1999 Bryant became a member of the Arena Football League, playing for the Iowa Barnstormers for two years. In 2002 Bryant was signed as a free agent by the New York Giants. Before playing in the NFL, he moved to Germany, where he played for the Frankfurt Galaxy for one season.
Matt never played for the Giants. After his year in NFL Europe, the Giants released him, and it wasn’t until 2004 that he finally played his first NFL game as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. His time there was short, as Bryant only played four games that season. He was traded to Miami during the year and split his playing between both teams.
In 2005 Bryant was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he had his first real stint in the NFL. For four seasons, Bryant made 98 successful field goals on 118 attempts (83 percent) including a 62-yarder in 2006, the second longest field goal in NFL history.
In 2009 Bryant was released by the Bucs. Later that year he played in the UFL for the FLorida Tuskers (now known as the Virginia Destroyers). In December that year, Bryant was signed by the Falcons to replace kicker Jason Elam (one of four men with the longest field-goal in NFL history).
Bryant played in just five games for the Falcons that year, but he did well enough to be invited back. In the past two plus years for Atlanta, Bryant has played in every game and made 65 of his 70 field goal attempts (93 percent) including a perfect 10 for 10 in the first five games of Atlanta’s 2012 season.
Throughout his career, Bryant has been active in whatever community he lived in at the time including the United Way and his own foundation the Matthew Tryson Bryant Foundation, named in honor of his two sons.
Matt started the foundation after his three-month-old son Matthew died in his sleep from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The foundation helps to raise awareness for SIDS with the proceeds of the foundation going to the March of Dimes.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.