Former Canada West All-Star Jon Ryan gets a kick at the Super Bowl

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by David Bandla

January 21, 2014, EDMONTON (ISN) – Seattle Seahawks punter / kicker Jon Ryan is well-traveled since his Canada West days with the University of Regina Rams. And now he is headed to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

A three-time conference All-Star and two-time CIS All-Canadian, Ryan starred for the Rams 2000-03 before being drafted into the Canadian Football League as a punter / wide receiver by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2004.

He racked up 221 points with Regina, including five touchdowns, to sit 15th all-time in league scoring. To this day, Ryan holds the Canada West record for one play, a 109-yard TD reception from QB Mark Anderson on October 27, 2001 at Saskatchewan, a record that cannot be broken on the standard 110-yard Canadian football field.

Ryan’s 42.6-yard punt average over four years is fourth-best in conference history.

Second in punting his first CFL season with the Blue Bombers, Ryan cranked it up even more in 1985 with a CFL-best 50.6-yard average, leading to speculation about his future. It was a few months later, in January 2006, that the Green Bay Packers signed the former U of R All-Canadian to his first National Football League contract. During the 2006-07 season Ryan won the Ed Block Courage Award for courage, sportsmanship and inspiration after a difficult time that saw his father, Bob, diagnosed with terminal cancer. He fought through and continued to be one the NFL’s best punters despite the circumstances.

After two seasons in Green Bay, however, he was released and picked up by the Seattle Seahawks, where he has thrived as one the league’s top-rated punters season after season.

And now he has made it to the world’s biggest one-day sporting event.

With a 23-17 win over San Francisco in Sunday’s NFC Championship game, the Seahawks advance to Super Bowl XLVII against the Denver Broncos on February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium (formerly Giants Stadium) in East Rutherford, NJ.

Previously, two Canada West football stars have advanced to the Super Bowl, both in 2007, where Calgary Dinos graduate Dan Federkeil of the Indianapolis Colts and Israel Idonije, formerly of the Manitoba Bisons, would have gone head-to-head had it not been for Federkeil’s injury. Idonije played, but it was the Colts that came out on top, 29-17, meaning Ryan could become the first former Canada West Universities Athletic Association student-athlete to play and win a Super Bowl.

Regardless of the outcome, the 32-year-old Ryan has already proven himself a winner on and off the field, not to mention he will likely maintain a pivotal role in the NFL for years to come.

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