Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Seahawks' Jon Ryan Recalls Brief Tenure with Wheat Kings

Picture courtesy Seattle Thunderbirds Twitter (@SeattleTbirds)
  There was a former Wheat King that dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff ahead of Game Three of the WHL Championship Series on Tuesday night.

  Well, sort of.

  Seattle Seahawks’ punter Jon Ryan spent all of four days in the Wheat Kings’ training camp in the fall of 1999 before being released.

  Ryan played AAA hockey growing up in Saskatchewan, and was MVP of the Moose Jaw Generals of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League during the 1998-99 season.

  A goaltender, Ryan had been in the camp of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Regina Pats in 1997 and 1998 respectively, but it was coming to Brandon as an 18-year old in 1999 that cemented his status as a ‘former hockey player’.

  “I just never made that leap to the next level, and thank god,” said Ryan  before Game Three, “It worked out so well.  My heart was always really in football.  I loved hockey but it wasn’ really my #1.  As it turned out, they kind of made the decision for me on whether I was going to pursue football and hockey back in 1999.  It’s worked out better than I could have ever imagined.”

  Ryan went on to play football at the University of Regina, and was chosen by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2004 CFL Draft.

  Ryan spent two years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2004 and 2005 before embarking on his NFL career.

  “I remember that was were a pretty bad football team.  I think we won five games one year and seven in the other,” said Ryan, “It was one of the most fun times I had playing football...to play at home in Canada and play in Winnipeg with a city that loves football so much and playing on the prairies, the people love the game so much.  I’ll always hold that dear to my heart because it was just fun place to play football...it was literally the most fun I had playing football even though we weren’t that great a team.”

  Ryan went to the NFL with the Green Bay Packers in 2006, and spent two years there before being released in September of 2008.

  He signed with the Seahawks a week later, and has been a valuable member with Seattle since including a Super Bowl win with the Seahawks in 2014 – becoming the first player from Saskatchewan to win a Super Bowl.

  Ryan also dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff before an Everett Silvertips’ game earlier this season, but admits he doesn’t follow hockey as much as he used to.

  “I don’t follow it as much as I used to but, man, this is a great hockey club right now and a lot of fun to be in this atmosphere,” said Ryan, “The last time I was to games, it was in the Key Arena downtown and there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere.  This is a really cool atmosphere and it’s a lot of fun to be around.”

  Besides being an ex-goaltender, Ryan’s other claim to fame came in the 2015 NFL Championship game.

  In the third quarter, Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Gerry Gilliam...becoming the first punter to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL playoff game.

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