NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Titans cornerback Logan Ryan has plenty in his life he's thankful for -- a new bride, a young daughter, a loyal family and plenty of success as an athlete, which was his childhood dream.
Ryan has also won two Super Bowl rings from his days with the Patriots, and this offseason he signed a $30 million contract with the Titans.
This month, Ryan has received plenty of attention for spreading good karma around him. His most notable public good deeds include him and his wife raising money and awareness to rescue, heal and find homes for animals all over the world to surprising his older brother by paying off the remainder of his student loan.
"It's stuff that makes me happy," Ryan explained. "And between all of it, I am working harder than I have ever worked this season to do more than I have ever done to try and win some football games.
"The positive stories getting out there, it's good. But you know what? I could make ten times less money and still want to help other people. It's the way I have been raised. So many people have helped me get to this point. So I feel like I am doing what everybody else would do. … To me, it just seems right."
Ryan, entering his fifth NFL season, joined the Titans in March after spending his first four seasons in New England. He's expected to play a big role for the Titans on the field, while using his leadership and experience to help those around him as well.
After wrapping up his first minicamp with the team earlier this month, Ryan is currently in New Jersey. He was inducted into the South Jersey Hall of Fame Wednesday night, and on Thursday he's holding his first annual football camp.
Ryan has recently received plenty of attention for his acts of kindness, beginning with his compassion for dogs, which became a natonwide story after Ryan married his college sweetheart, Ashley Bragg Ryan, in St. Lucia. The couple asked all their wedding guests – and all their friends back home – to donate to a local animal shelter, Help Animals in St. Lucia, instead of giving gifts.
They got the idea after first arriving on the island.
"As we are driving through town to get to the resort, we saw a different culture of a lot of stray animals, a lot of dogs running around, no collars, no leashes, just a lot of street dogs,'' Ryan said. "My wife has a huge heart for all dogs, and I do as well. But she's at a different level. She'll throw herself in front of a car for a dog, I promise you. So it got our attention."
When the couple later walked the streets in the St. Lucian town of Soufriere while taking wedding photos, one particular dog followed them around. Ashley, a certified professional dog trainer, embraced the dog even as it was nipping at the back of her expensive wedding dress. Ryan said they felt attached to the dog, and after heading back to the resort they realized they wanted to do more to help.
They reached out to the local dog rescue shelter, and made a significant donation. Other family members and friends followed their lead.
Help Animal Welfare in St Lucia released a statement that the wedding's donations helped. After Ryan posted a picture of him and Ashley with the dog on social media, the company reached out to the Ryans, found the particular dog, named her Logan, and part of the donation paid for her spay and other medical treatments.
The story went viral, with People Magazine, Good Morning America, ESPN and The Huffington Post among the news outlets that have all picked up on the story.
New Titans CB Logan Ryan signs his contract, meets reporters at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
"Running a rescue anywhere in the world is financially, physically, and mentally draining and it is impossible to do it without help from people like the Ryans," the statement said. "It is so easy to see a problem and walk right past or continue scrolling through your news feed hoping someone else will deal with it. Not many people actually stop to see what they can do to help when faced with a situation like this. Their actions showed us how big their hearts truly are.
"Without people like them who go above and beyond to help, we would not be able to continue saving lives in Saint Lucia," their statement continued. "The animals we rescue almost always have pre-existing conditions, which become expensive to treat and their wedding donations really helped us in a time of need. They haven't only have they helped us financially though, they've also helped bring awareness to our organization which is invaluable."
Ryan said the couple plans to keep doing its part, through his foundation – ryananimalfoundation.org. Ashley Ryan is starting a business in Nashville called Ryan Canine Consulting, which should be up and running in September. The business is geared to help dogs with behavior issues.
Ryan said the Help Animal Welfare Clinic in St. Lucia adopts to the United States and Canada, and said "Logan" is still looking for a home. He's encouraging others to make a donation through @helppaws.
"People helping dogs, they do it for the love it,'' Ryan said. "If you are trying to do it to make money doing it, you are going to lose a lot of money, I'll tell you that. These dogs need a lot of resources they don't get, are unable to get. I am happy I am able to bring some type of spotlight to that. I've met a lot of great people. The dog community is awesome. A lot of people have become fans of mine through this. It's cool for people to get to know me off the field. It is awesome to make a difference. I say this all the time: If it just helps one dog. Just knowing that one dog we met in St. Lucia, knowing us doing that helped that one dog get off the street and get treatment and save her life potentially. That was worth it, that's what it is all about. If more do it and help, it will snowball, but you just want to help one dog at a time."
Ryan isn't just getting attention for helping dogs these days.
Earlier this week, he surprised his older brother Jordan by paying off his student loan on his birthday.
"It was a complete surprise," Ryan said. "He had no idea. There was a video where he didn't know what was going on for the first 30 seconds and then he started crying a little bit. To see that reaction – I'd never really seen him cry before. To see the amount of stress student loans can put on people, good people who work hard. … To be able to free him up, it was an awesome moment. It's something I'd been wanting to do for a long time."
Jordan went to school at Drexel University on a five-year program which costs $50,000 per year. Now an engineer, he'd been paying $1,000 a month since he got out of school to pay off the loan. He had 10 years to go when Logan surprised him with a check for $82,000 payable to American Education Services, which took care of the remainder of the loan.
A photo of the brothers holding the giant check had been 'liked' by over 8,300 of Ryan's followers on Instagram by Thursday morning.
"My brother, he's texted me after every game, and he's been on my side since I was little," Ryan said. "He helped me put on my shoulder pads when I was little. And he's never asked me for a dime. He's never asked for money. He went to work every day, paid his loan and bills like everybody else and never once asked me for a penny. To be able to do that, it was the best feeling in the world."
So what's next on Ryan's to-do list?
"I'm always trying to do (what's right), and it's good sometimes when they shine the light on you,'' he said. "I am happy some positive stories are getting out there. It makes me and my family happy."