Matt and Mom

By Dave Rogers
For The Record

After more than three decades of watching her son push the rock up football’s mountains, Mary Hargrave Bryant was there Sunday when Matt Bryant and his Falcons teammates topped the highest peak and earned their spot in Super Bowl 51.
Though he’s one of the oldest players in the NFL at 41, the Bridge City native will be playing in his first Super Bowl on Feb. 5 at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
“I’m very, very proud of Matt,” Mary, a former school board member in Bridge City, said of her son, the veteran kicker who scored eight of Atlanta’s points in their 44-21 destruction of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
“You have all these little boys who dream of playing football. You don’t want to squash that dream, but you think, ‘Nobody’s going to find a little boy from Bridge City,’ Mary Bryant said.
“From a little boy who was told he might not make it, to a man walking out there on the field in the Super Bowl.”
Matt, she said, had a difficult birth. But he’s proved himself again and again to be tough enough.
“When he was born, they told us there was a possibility he might not make it,” the player’s mother recalled.
“But he’s done well.
“Matt has so much determination. He’s a fighter. He’s been blessed. We’ve all been blessed.”
Bryant, playing for his fifth team in 15 NFL seasons, led the high-scoring Falcons in scoring this year, booting 34 regular season field goals plus three more in the playoffs.
“I don’t know how much longer Matt will play. I’m sure he’s getting close to retiring,” Mary Bryant said. “I just wish he could get a [Super Bowl] ring before he retires.”
Mary was in Atlanta Sunday night when the thrill of seeing her son succeed turned a tad chaotic.
Besides a household that includes wife Melissa and seven children under 20 years old, there’s a ton of Super Bowl prep taking place for the Bryants, according to Mom.
“Everything is just crazy,” she said. “They’re trying to get ready for the Super Bowl.
“Even though I have nothing to do with it, they hit you with, ‘Do you want to go here? Do you want to go there?’
“I’m so excited he gets to play in the Super Bowl.”
The Bryant clan will be in evidence for the game between the Falcons and New England Patriots.
Besides Matt’s wife and kids and Mary, the entourage will include Matt’s three siblings, brothers Tim and Billy and sister Sherry Mulhollan. Cousins Paul and Van Bryant and Debbie and Rodney Townsend are also going to see the big game.
“The family’s going for all the activities, Friday through Sunday,” Mary Bryant said. “If they win, there will be a big party out on the field Sunday night.”
Mary’s looking for the party.
“I think they have a chance,” she said. “I really do.”