Loss of son inspires Bucs’ K
Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008 5:12 pm
By: By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matt Bryant choked back tears.
A day after burying his 3-month-old son in Texas, the Tampa Bay kicker booted three field goals to help the Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers 30-21 on Sunday.
“I don’t know what I needed today,” Bryant said. “It worked out OK. Could’ve been better, but given the circumstances it turned out OK.”
Bryant’s youngest son, Matthew Tryson, was found dead at home in Tampa on Wednesday. It will be several weeks before the kicker and his wife learn the cause of death.
Bryant didn’t practice all week, and coach Jon Gruden left it up to him to decide if he would play.
“The biggest thing for me, I wanted to honor Tryson’s name,” Bryant said. “I mean, I don’t think it was very fair for his life to end so short. This is the best way I believe I could get out and honor him. I miss him and wish he was here, but he was here with me. He helped out.”
Bryant kicked field goals 23 and 36 yards in the second quarter. His 24-yarder, with 2:26 to go, finished a six-minute drive and put the Bucs ahead for good, 23-21.
“Today was his day. It was all about Tryson for me. I talked with him, personally, in my head throughout the game. I just wanted to remind him that he’s my baby boy and that he’s with me all the time.”
The Bucs awarded a game ball to Bryant, who has rebounded from a subpar preseason to play an important role in two of Tampa Bay’s three victories. He kicked a winning field goal in overtime last week at Chicago.
“If you really knew Matt, this really puts a human touch on everything that is going on in the football world,” Gruden said. “This was an unexpected situation. This family is in total shock, and he flew back after a funeral to make the game-winning kick.”
Punter Josh Bidwell is Bryant’s best friend on the team.
“He’s proving right now, more than ever, that he’s one of the best in the business. Regardless of his preseason and the struggles that he went through, this is who he is — he’s a gamer,” Bidwell said.
“And he came out here and did his job for us, and I think it was therapeutic because he knew we were going to play hard for him. That was the message given to him, even when we were down, that we were going to get this done for you.”