Jon Ryan will be forever immortalized – certainly on the Internet – for his touchdown pass that sparked a comeback playoff victory to ensure the Seattle Seahawks a berth in the 2014 NFL Super Bowl. The scoring toss – part of a fake field goal play – also earned Ryan a place in the NFL record book as the first punter to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL playoff game.

“I always try to lead by example on and off the field,” Ryan says. “That means never cutting corners, and treating all of the people you meet during a workday – and there are hundreds – the same way.”

While that may be his signature play, he says one of his greatest accomplishments, was to be named a team captain by his fellow players for four consecutive years. “I always try to lead by example on and off the field,” Ryan says. “That means never cutting corners, and treating all of the people you meet during a workday – and there are hundreds – the same way.”

Ryan was born and raised in Regina, playing running back, place kicker, and punter for the Sheldon-Williams Spartans, and then wide receiver and punter for four seasons with the University of Regina Rams. At the end of his university career, Ryan was recognized with three team awards from the Rams and named a first-team Canada West All-Star and CIS All-Star.

He is an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, known for his strong response to online homophobic comments made after the Pulse nightclub shootings in 2016. “I’m a believer in equality,” he says, “and that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their race, sexuality or any other characteristic.”

He then spent two seasons as a punter with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He continued his career in the NFL, playing two seasons with the Green Bay Packers, followed by ten years with the Seattle Seahawks, including a Super Bowl championship in 2013. He was released by the Seahawks in August 2018. Ryan is proud of his longevity, being a member of a select group of just over 300 players who have appeared in more than 200 NFL games.

He is an outspoken supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, known for his strong response to online homophobic comments made after the Pulse nightclub shootings in 2016. “I’m a believer in equality,” he says, “and that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their race, sexuality or any other characteristic.”

Ryan also believes in giving back to his community. In Saskatchewan, he founded the Gear Up with Jon Ryan Foundation to fill a gap that he identified in minor football programming in Regina. The foundation initially provided proper equipment for younger players playing tackle football and more training for coaches to improve player safety. It has since expanded to other communities across Saskatchewan, including support for a start-up team in the northern part of the province.

Ryan credits the behind-the-scenes work of his wife – actress and comedian Sarah Colonna – members of his family, and some local business people for the foundation’s success in making football more accessible to young people. “There are about 25 people who put in unbelievable hours to make it go,” he says.

As for receiving an honorary degree from his alma mater, Ryan says it was a complete surprise when he received the call from University President Vianne Timmons. “It’s a great honour, and to receive an honorary degree at the same convocation that my mother (Barb Ryan) is getting one is pretty cool.”

Ryan receives his honorary degree on June 5, 2019.