Stewart's NFL career cresting with Falcons (Pt.2)

In Part II of VandyMania's interview with Atlanta Falcon outside linebacker Matt Stewart, the former Commodore talks about becoming a father... his closest friends from his Vanderbilt days... and the prognosis for the 2004 Falcons, who should get back a healthy Michael Vick. (Part 2 of 2)

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VandyMania: Matt, update us on you personally... you were married a while back, correct?

Matt: Yes, been married for a while, and I have a one-year-old son named Matthew. He turned one in May. We are tied down in Atlanta now, but both my wife's and my families are up in Columbus, Ohio. That makes it easy when we go up there. We can spend time with both of our families.

Matt Stewart (52, bottom left) signs autographs with members of the Atlanta Falcons. (Mary Ann Chastain / AP)
VM: Do you ever have to pinch yourself and say, wow, I can't believe I'm playing for an NFL team, and I'm actually starting for an NFL team?

Matt: No. I think I'm getting used to it! I was like that for the first couple of years, but I'm really trying to get used to it. I'm trying to get over that, and to become the best outside linebacker in the league. I really feel like I'm making a good reputation for myself. I'm playing with technique, and trying for no mental errors. I've gotten over the shock, if that's what you mean.

VM: What would you say is probably the hardest thing about playing professional ball?

Matt: There's really not a whole lot hard about it. We go out and work hard in the sun and humidity, but other than that, you can't really complain about it. Because there are a lot of other jobs a lot worse than this! I try not to complain a whole lot about it. But there will be times during the summer, especially training camp, where you're just dreading going out there for two-a-days. Once you get through training camp, it's all just playing the games. Playing the games is easy. There's nothing hard about that.

VM: You have a long off-season in the NFL... how do you like to spend those off-seasons? What do you like to do?

Matt: We've been just hanging out with our son a lot lately, just watching him grow up. That's really how we've been spending most of our time. Every day when I get home we go out and play in the yard for a little bit. But before he was really able to get around much, I'd spend a lot of time going golfing, maybe once or twice a week. Now though, we go to the pool every couple of days and take Matthew out in the pool. We take a couple of trips every now and then, usually go up to Ohio, or go out to Vegas occasionally.

VM: What teammates from your Vanderbilt days do you remain closest to?

Matt: Nate Morrow and Ryan McSwain were both in my wedding, and those guys we talk to all the time. We usually get together a couple of times a year. They're both up in Nashville. They'll usually come down here, or we'll go up there. But definitely those two guys. Actually Ryan McSwain is getting married in the next couple of weeks here. Nate Morrow and I are going to be his co-best men.

VM: Of course Michael Vick was hurt most of last year, and the Falcons had a disappointing season. Let's say Michael Vick stays healthy this year... how do you see the Falcons doing, realistically?

Matt: We can go all the way, definitely. We've definitely got the talent. The new coaching staff has brought a lot of enthusiasm and made a lot of adjustments that I think we needed. I definitely think we have a chance to go all the way.

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To read Part One of this interview, click here.


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