NFC South: Matthew Tryson Bryant

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant and his wife Melissa are going to be at the front of an educational campaign to raise awareness for Sudden Infant Death Synrodome (SIDS).

The program will be part of the "This Side Up" campaign, which was started by the Hayes Foundation in Richmond, Va. The program strives to educate parents and anyone who cares for infants that babies are at less risk for SIDS if they are placed on their backs before going to sleep.

The Bryants will take part in a press conference to promote the campaign Friday in Orlando. The Bryants lost their infant son, Matthew Tryson Bryant, in September.

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- There have been a whole bunch of parties during Super Bowl week. In general, they're for corporate hobnobbing and fun and that's great.

But I saw one story on the television news this morning about a party that went beyond the usual. There was a party in Tampa last night to start a memorial fund for Matthew Tryson Bryant, the infant son of Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant. Matthew Tryson died suddenly in September.

Matt and his wife Melissa are starting the memorial fund and the party was a way to get started. According to the television report the guest list included Kevin Costner, Cuba Gooding Jr. and many of the Buccaneers.

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- In the Matt Bryant situation, everything is relative. But there's a small positive today.

The Bucs just told us that Bryant has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Bryant kicked three field goals, including the game winner, against Green Bay on Sunday. That came a day after he buried his infant son, Matthew Tryson.

Linebacker Derrick Brooks was selected as the NFC Defensive Player of the week after recording his 25th career interception and forcing a fumble against the Packers.

Bryant's strength a lesson for us all

September, 29, 2008

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

I've had a third-string tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tyji Armstrong) threaten to throw me in the Gulf of Mexico, covered the Rae Carruth horror story and spent countless hours listening to agents who would lie, cheat and steal just to get a few extra dollars in their commission.

  AP Photo/Reinhold Matay
 Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant's story inspired teammates and media alike.

When you've been a sports writer for a couple of decades, you become jaded. First, you're schooled to "cover the story, not be the story'' and after you see the ugly underbelly of big-time sports, you sort of get numb to it all and it's easy to keep an emotional distance.

Then, along comes Matt Bryant and what the Tampa Bay kicker did Sunday and there's no way you can stay numb, no way you can't feel emotion.

I've covered more than a dozen Super Bowls, written about college bowl games and chronicled the final Celtics game in the old Boston Garden. I've seen history, but forgotten most of it because I wasn't able to feel it.

I felt it Sunday as I watched Bryant on the field at Raymond James Stadium and, more important, listened to him in the media room after the Bucs defeated the Green Bay Packers. It was far from the best game I've ever seen, but it was easily the most memorable.

A day after burying his infant son, Matthew Tryson, Bryant went out and kicked three field goals, including the game-winner. Bryant then walked into the media room, looking dazed, and talked about how he played because he wanted to honor Tryson and admitted he had a running dialogue (in his head) with his son throughout the game.

You couldn't possibly sit in that room and not feel your heart coming apart. I went back upstairs and wrote my column. Ordinarily, that would have been the end of it. But you don't just move on from something like this.

In the 20 or so hours since that column went up, the comments section has been filled up with beautiful thoughts for Bryant and my mailbag has received more letters than on any day since it started a couple months ago. As of this moment, I've received five letters from readers who also lost children.

Every one of them talked about how you never lose the pain, but you do what you can to get by. Every one of them made me realize what I witnessed yesterday wasn't a football game.

It was a lesson in life for all of us. It would be easy to make Bryant a story of tragedy and triumph, but that wouldn't be accurate. You couldn't hear any triumph in Bryant's voice or see any on his blank face as he spoke. Three field goals don't just wipe out a tragedy. A million more field goals won't even do that.

That's what makes Bryant's story so powerful. It's real and it's raw emotion. You've got to learn from it.

The people who wrote about losing children have never met Bryant and they probably never will. Yet, they're all faced with the common daily challenge of doing what they have to do to get by.

More than anything -- and this is what separates Bryant and those people from a lot of other athletes and the fantasy world we've all created -- they're human beings. They're real.

And they're a whole lot stronger than some myth who can go out and bench press 400 pounds.

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

 Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant showed up for work Sunday to kick a game-winning field goal just one day after burying his baby son.

TAMPA, Fla. -- As he stood outside the media room in Raymond James Stadium, Matt Bryant had a game-winning field goal in his back pocket and the most blank look you've ever seen on his face.

On the other side of the door, coach Jon Gruden was praising the Buccaneers for their 30-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers. In the hallway, Bryant alternately eyed four reporters and a Coke machine for a few minutes with no expression, nothing even close to a hint that his 24-yard field goal with two minutes, 26 seconds remaining had put the Bucs ahead to stay.

Gruden finished, Bryant stepped into the room in front of the cameras and the microphones and that's when his emotions started spilling out.

It had to be done, Bryant said.

"I wanted to honor Tryson's name," Bryant said. "I didn't think it was very fair for his life to end so short. This is the best way, I believe that I could get out and honor him. I miss him. I wish he was here. But he was here with me. He helped out."

Tryson is Matthew Tryson Bryant. He was born June 16 and was the youngest child of Matt and Melissa Bryant. He died Wednesday.

Tryson was buried in Texas on Saturday. On Sunday, his dad did the only thing he could. He kicked.

"Today was his day," Bryant said. "It was all about him for me. I talked with him personally in my head throughout the game. I just want to remind him that he's my baby boy and he's with me all the time."

The conversation with Tryson might have been the only thing Bryant heard very clearly. He knew the fans cheered louder than normal when he kicked off to start the game and as he made three extra points and three field goals. He pointed to the sky after each one, but, afterward, Bryant just looked numb.

"I was so drained and tired," Bryant said. "I tried my best it wasn't that great, but we got the win."

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Bucs may have to find fill-in kicker

September, 25, 2008

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden will be speaking to the media in about an hour and he may provide an update on the status of kicker Matt Bryant for Sunday's game against Green Bay.

Obviously, Bryant has the option of sitting out after the death of his three-month-old son, Matthew Tryson, on Wednesday. That's going to be up to Bryant and it's a very personal and delicate situation.

The Bucs do have to be prepared for any possibility. We're hearing that one possible fill-in candidate is Shane Andrus. He has spent time with the Colts and Giants the last two preseasons.

Bryant issues statement on son's death

September, 24, 2008

Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant just issued a statement through the team about the death of his three-month-old son, Matthew Tryson Bryant, this morning. Tryson, as he was called by his family, was born June 16. Matt and Melissa have four older children. Details about Tryson's death have not been revealed, but the team said the child had not been sick and the incident was sudden.

"Melissa and I are overcome with the support we have received from the community through this difficult time,'' Bryant said. "We would like to thank our Buccaneer family and the Glazers for their support and outpouring of love.

"Tryson enriched our lives for the short period of time that he was with us and we will never forget his smile. We know Tryson's death has deeply touched the community and we appreciate the love and prayers from Buccaneers fans.''

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Tryson's name to March of Dimes, 405 North Reo St., Suite 105, Tampa, Fla., 33609. For information, call (813) 287-2600.