Day 1: A Nor’Easter, Quaker Meeting and Cheesesteaks
Road to Houston

Day 1: A Nor’Easter, Quaker Meeting and Cheesesteaks

Team MMQB weathered a mighty storm to get the story of Matt Ryan’s roots on the first day of our road trip to Super Bowl 51

Matt Ryan's high school, Penn Charter.
John DePetro/The MMQB

The MMQB is back on the road for the Super Bowl. Our writers and video team are driving to Houston for Super Bowl 51, along the way doing stories, videos and social content on the Patriots and Falcons and catching the spirit of the biggest sporting event in America through our eyes. Follow our #RoadtoHouston on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

NEW YORK CITY to PHILADELPHIA— The MMQB’s Super Bowl 51 road trip kicked off in the heart of a nasty Nor’Easter. We loaded up our Ford Expedition, reset our mileage, and hit the road Monday battling the heavy wind and rain. This year’s crew going down to Houston is mostly familiar MMQB faces: myself, writers Jenny Vrentas and Tim Rohan, videographer John DePetro. But there is one new guy you need to know.

When we tweeted this picture, someone replied, “So who's the guy on the right? Just a rando that jumped in the pic? #leftout.” No, that rando on the right is not a disheveled hitchhiker. It’s videographer Colin Bressler, in his first-ever MMQB road trip experience. We needed some more video help this year, so Colin got the call. I just hope he knows what he’s getting into (mainly, a Clif bar-fueled existence) on the long road to Houston. I’ll keep you posted on how he holds up.

MILE 107

Our first stop took us to William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, a private Friends school founded in 1689 by a group of Pennsylvania Quakers. It was here on the historical campus that Matt Ryan played high school ball for the Quaker football team.

We first met with the fifth grade class, where Matty Ice fever was out of control. Seriously… out of control. As soon as we stepped into the classroom, 25 kids erupted in a MATTY ICE! MATTY ICE! cheer. We didn’t need to do any prompting to produce this video:

Note: One boy, Owen, would not participate in the video cheer because he is a Patriots fan. Hold your ground, Owen. Respect.

The fifth graders weren’t the only ones with a message for their favorite alum. A few members of the school’s a cappella group, The Quakers Dozen, stopped by to sing congrats to Ryan. We all want to set this as our phone ringtone or save it as a standard message to send to someone when they do a great job…

After we met with Ryan’s former teachers and coaches, we passed the school’s meeting room, a large hall where students gather every Thursday morning for the weekly Quaker meeting. I didn’t know much about Quakerism before visiting this school, so I was fascinated to find out that while he was a student at Penn Charter, Ryan sat in total silence for 40 minutes each week on one of the wooden benches in this hall. Definitely don’t think I could do that…

And because we were in Philly, we had to stop for a cheesesteak before hitting the road to our next destination. We heard that Ryan used to frequent Chubby’s Steaks for his cheesesteak, so that’s where we headed. (Sorry Geno’s and Pat’s.) Colin is a Philly native, so he was able to advise me on my order, though I opted for chicken cheesesteak… I know, I’m ashamed to admit it. A waitress there remembered Ryan coming in while he was in high school, but at the time she thought nothing of it, since he wasn’t famous back then.

Ethel, manager of Chubby’s Steaks, would like to extend an invitation to Matt Ryan to return for a cheesesteak once he wins the Super Bowl. We promised to do our best to deliver the message. Fueled by Philly’s finest, we headed to Annapolis, where we’ll visit the scene of Bill Belichick’s upbringing at the U.S. Naval Academy… Stay with us. It’s gonna be a fun trip, even with Rohan in charge of the music.

Got a story idea or suggested stop for The MMQB’s Road to Houston trip? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.