BC’s Bryant Buc’s Man of the Year
The Bryant family got to see Bridge City’s own, NFL kicker — three points in the form of a field goal — get put on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ scoreboard by his father in dramatic fashion at a recent game.
Matt Bryant, 32, held three fingers up after booting that franchise-record 62-yard field goal, the third-longest in NFL history.
Bryant held those fingers aloft not because of the kick, but because of his son, Tre, who was just 23 days old at the time but still should have been in his mother’s womb.
"That was his first game out of the hospital," Bryant, who also has four stepchildren — a 9-year-old, 7-year-old and 5-year-old twins, told media.
"We named him for my number," said, Bryant who wears No. 3.
At 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Bryant hopes to be scoring more points as the Buccaneers (7-4) face the New Orleans Saints (5-6) at the Louisiana Superdome in an NFC South divisional matchup.
The Buccaneers named Bryant the organization’s Man of the Year on Monday, not for his proficiency as a kicker, but for his community service work. In earning that honor, Bryant will be eligible to win the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which includes a $25,000 donation to the charity of Bryant’s choice. The Bucs already have donated $1,000 to the March of Dimes Florida Bay Division on behalf of Bryant.
Some of Bryant’s community service work — becoming the spokesperson for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum’s "Child Predator CyberCrimes Unit" — has been a direct result of having Tre.
Born 36 weeks premature, Tre Bryant weighed just three pounds, 10 ounces upon birth. He spent the first two weeks of his life in the hospital, released just in time to be in the stands for his dad’s game-winning kick against Philadelphia last season.
Tre Bryant, now 14 months old, has remained healthy.
"When I see my son, he just smiles at me," Bryant said. "Just to imagine somebody out there trying to take that smile off of his face — it’s hard to imagine that there’s people out there like that."
"The cutoff date to apply for that stuff is 35. So, hopefully, I’ll be playing long enough to where I can’t apply for it. I’ve met a lot of friends through different organizations and different police organizations. I enjoy that. I enjoy the whole aspect of keeping law and order."
Bryant has provided order for the Buccaneers as a kicker. He ranks first in franchise history in field-goal accuracy, having made 56-of-69 field goals with the Bucs (.812) since joining the team in 2005.
With 56 field goals, Bryant already ranks fourth in Bucs history in that category, following Martin Gramatica (137), Michael Husted (117) and Donald Igwebuike (94).
Bryant made 4-of-4 field goals Sunday during his team’s 19-13 victory against the Washington Redskins. He has converted 18-of-22 field goals and all 22 of his extra point attempts this season.
"The two longer kicks, I wish I could do them over again," said Bryant, who missed a 54-yard attempt against Arizona.
"I kind of slipped," he said. "It was in the middle of the field. Every now and then, it makes you slip, because on the paint, there’s no roots to the grass there. It’s just one of those deals.
"But we’ve done well. The main thing is that we’re winning and that I get a chance to contribute to a winning team."
Bucs coach Jon Gruden described Bryant as "outstanding," after Sunday’s game, but Gruden didn’t even mention Bryant the following day.
Bryant said he doesn’t mind the lack of attention this season. He said he did not feel taken for granted.
"It’s kind of good," Bryant said. "In one respect, people expect you to make it.
"I expect to be successful. It’s good that the other people have that much confidence in you. I’m ready to go out there and do what I do no matter what anybody thinks."
The Bucs have signed Bryant at about $1 million per year through the 2010 season. Bryant hopes to keep kicking, at least until Tre Bryant is old enough to appreciate his father’s work.
"I’m looking forward to the day when he can run out on the field and play around," Matt Bryant said. "If I’m blessed to play long enough to where he understands what I’m doing, that would be tremendous."