At Boston College, Matt Ryan is still big man on campus. He's one of the few athletes with a retired jersey. But for the first time in his career, former coaches and professors, as well as current students, are having their loyalties questioned.
Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons are facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And that's enough to cause some tension in this particular corner of Patriots Nation.
When Ryan played at BC almost a decade ago, he left a lasting impression on and off the field.
"Matt was a very low key guy. He did well in the class," said Michael Keith, Ryan's communications professor.
Boston College spokesperson Jack Dunn says this is where he got the nickname "Matty Ice" for his cool demeanor. He continues to give back to the community.
"Anytime we've asked him to meet with someone, or do something for the university, the answer has always been yes," Dunn said.
That makes it that much more difficult to root against him.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Senior associate athletic director Barry Gallup says if you're a fan of the Pats and the Eagles, this is one of those games you really can't lose.
"I'm going to root for Matt Ryan, and I'm going to root for the Patriots," he said.