Mayor Pam Iorio told K Matt Bryant to keep having fun
Thanks to the NFL schedule-makers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be working on Thanksgiving this year. They'll also be clocking in on New Year's Eve day, and if they can rally to the playoffs, perhaps New Year's Day too.
They did not have to report to work on Matt Bryant Day, however.
That's right: By official proclamation of Mayor Pam Iorio, Monday was Matt Bryant Day in Tampa. Banks remained open, but it just so happened that Bucs Head Coach Jon Gruden gave his team an extra day off on Monday. Of course, that might have had more to do with the team's rousing, 23-21 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday than Bryant's honor from the mayor.
Of course, Matt Bryant had a lot to do with that, kicking a 62-yard field goal at regulation to put his name alongside Tom Dempsey's. After witnessing Bryant blast the second-longest game-winning field goal in the NFL's 87-year history, Mayor Iorio felt compelled to visit team headquarters on Monday to fete the kicker and his historic performance.
Shortly after Gruden finished his usual day-after-game press conference on Monday morning, Iorio brought Bryant to the podium and presented him with a plaque bearing the city's proclamation.
The proclamation read, in part, "In spite of all adversity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came through – Matt Bryant performed a miracle with the second longest kick in NFL history, giving the Bucs a stunning 23-21 victory and keeping hope alive for the 2006 season. I, Pam Iorio, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Tampa, Florida, do hereby proclaim Monday, October 23, 2006 as 'Matt Bryant Day' in the City of Tampa, Florida, and urge all citizens to join me in congratulating him on his unforgettable winning kick that has inspired us all and will surely lead the Bucs on to a victorious 2006 season."
Iorio, who first met Bryant last season and struck up a friendship with the kicker in his first year with the Buccaneers, was as stunned by Bryant's accomplishment as the rest of the NFL.
"I was totally wowed by the game yesterday," she said. "In those final seconds, I thought, how did the Bucs lose when they really played so well? And those two interceptions, and it was such a beautiful game…and look, they're going to lose. And then here comes Matt, a 62-yarder. I don't think this is going to happen. How could that possibly be? And when he made it, my goodness, I thought, 'What a fantastic can-do spirit.'"
Bryant appeared to be a man still waiting for the enormity of his accomplishment to sink in. Much of that may be by design. He wants his 62-yarder to become a footnote not only to his career but to this season, so he's attempting to move on as quickly as possible to prepare for the Bucs' next opponent. That said, he was clearly honored by the mayor's presentation.
"Am I excited I made the kick?" he said. "Yes. It was fun. It's not every day you get to do that. You can count on two fingers how many other people have kicked it that far. That's over with. New game. For right now, I'll enjoy it. I'll relish in the moment and have fun with it. For the bigger picture, there are 10 more games left in the regular season."
Mayor Iorio would be delighted if Bryant had fun with the notion of his "day." Having heard Bryant's account of holder Josh Bidwell's last words to him before the kick – "just have fun" – she urged him to continue following that advice.
"Matt, I'm absolutely proud of you," Iorio told the often reticent kicker. "And you just keep going with those kicks and don't forget to always have fun. Because apparently when you have fun, you do really well."
Maybe that should be the main tradition for Matt Bryant Day: Have fun!
Below is the complete text of Monday's proclamation by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio:
WHEREAS, as home to the NFL's 27th franchise, Tampa is proud of its championship Tampa Bay Buccaneers and today is especially proud of its kicker, Matt Bryant;
and WHEREAS, as a city known for its can-do attitude, the roar heard throughout the city during the last few seconds of the game on Sunday, October 22 against the Philadelphia Eagles was equal to that heard during our win of SUPERBOWL XXXVII; and
WHEREAS, holding the lead through most of the game thanks in large part to Ronde Barber's return of two interceptions, the Bucs were down 21-20 following a last minute touchdown by the Eagles; and
WHEREAS, with a kick-off return to the 36 yard line by the Bucs' Michael Pittman and two more plays, our team was at the 44 yard line when Matt Bryant was given the almost impossible task of kicking a game-winning 62 yard field goal – 1 yard short of the NFL record - with 4 seconds left on the clock; and
WHEREAS, once again, in spite of all adversity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came through – Matt Bryant performed a miracle with the second longest kick in NFL history, giving the Bucs a stunning 23-21 victory and keeping hope alive for the 2006 season; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Pam Iorio, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Tampa, Florida, do hereby proclaim Monday, October 23, 2006 as
"MATT BRYANT DAY"
in the City of Tampa, Florida, and urge all citizens to join me in congratulating him on his unforgettable winning kick that has inspired us all and will surely lead the Bucs on to a victorious 2006 season.
Dated in Tampa, Florida, this 23rd day of October, 2006.