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But Ryan is the rare New Eng­land op­po­nent who doesn't in­spire ha­tred in the area, even as he pre­pares to face the Pa­tri­ots in the Su­per Bowl on Sun­day.

At Bos­ton Col­lege, a guard shack dis­plays a poster of "Matty Ice," the nick­name Ryan picked up from his Ea­gles team­mates for his abil­ity to re­main cool un­der pres­sure. In the ath­letic build­ing, a case is filled with life-sized ac­tion shots of Ryan and some of the tro­phies he won : Johnny Uni­tas Award, Man­ning Award, At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence Player of the Year.

Around cam­pus in the runup to the Su­per Bowl, they're telling sto­ries about the hum­ble but tal­ented quar­ter­back who was also a con­sci­en­tious stu­dent and friend.

"He re­mem­bers peo­ple's names. He's po­lite to them. There's re­ally no ego there that I've de­tected, but there's con­fi­dence," Cameron said. "He's just a re­ally nice, car­ing guy. He's just got that 'It' factor."

A Philadel­phia na­tive who was un­der-re­cruited com­ing out of high school as an op­tion quar­ter­back who also played base­ball and bas­ket­ball, Ryan led Bos­ton Col­lege to that No. 2 rank­ing and fin­ished in the top 10 in Heis­man Tro­phy vot­ing. BC fin­ished 11-3 and No. 10 in the na­tion, beat­ing Michi­gan State in the Champs Sports Bowl.

But when the Fal­cons took Ryan third over­all in the 2008 NFL draft, Cameron found him­self spend­ing hours on­line re­spond­ing to com­ments on an At­lanta news­pa­per web­site from fans who were dis­ap­pointed with the pick.

"I'm not too sure that At­lanta knew too much about Matt," Cameron said. "I must have re­sponded to 100 of them. I just took it so per­son­ally. I must have typed 'Just wait. Just wait. Just wait' 100 times."

De­spite grow­ing up in Ken­tucky — a Ben­gals fan "I guess," he said — Cameron be­came a Pa­tri­ots fan af­ter liv­ing in the Bos­ton area for more than a decade, but also main­tained an al­le­giance to former BC Ea­gles in the NFL. (BC line­backer Luke Kuechly played in the Su­per Bowl last year for the Carolina Pan­thers.)

Asked about the mixed loy­al­ties in his former stomp­ing grounds, Ryan said in At­lanta last week, "None of my friends have mixed loy­al­ties," em­pha­siz­ing the word "my" and draw­ing a laugh from the as­sem­bled re­porters.

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