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Matt Birk makes retirement official

Matt Birk AP

As a Harvard alum in the NFL, Matt Birk was used to doing things a little bit differently than most professional football players.

So it was that his retirement press conference took place at Baltimore’ Battle Grove Elementary School with 40 fifth-graders asking questions and the press standing in the back of the room. Birk, the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, is establishing a community reading center for students and their families at the school.

“The reason that I wanted to do it here today was because I have enjoyed playing football, but as much as playing, I have enjoyed doing this [giving back to the community] as an NFL player,” Birk said, via a release from the Ravens. “When I was a rookie … There are 53 guys on a team. I was like the 53rd guy. I was the worst player on the team, but I was on the team. That’s all that mattered. I went out and did a visit my first week with the Vikings. I went to a school, and all the kids were going crazy. They didn’t really know who I was. They just knew that I played for the Vikings, and I thought, ‘Wow. This is unbelievable.’ Like I said, this has been a big part of my career, and what I’ve enjoyed doing is coming to schools over the years and really being with young people like you guys. I get a lot of energy — get a lot of positive energy — from you guys and really enjoy it. I just thought that this would be a fitting place to do it.”

Birk’s retirement after 15 seasons will save the Ravens about $2 million off the salary cap, money that can go toward keeping some of the other key players from last year’s Super Bowl champions in town a little while longer.

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17 Responses to “Matt Birk makes retirement official”
  1. fuglyflorio says: Feb 22, 2013 5:02 PM

    To be honest 5th graders can read quite well. He should establish one where they have trouble reading … like in the NFL for instance.

  2. itssocoldinthed says: Feb 22, 2013 5:12 PM

    Always awesome to see one of the all time greats ride off into the sunset with a Lombardi and his health intact. Baltimore will have big shoes to fill if the O-line is to continue the dominance displayed in the playoffs and assure Flacco’s continued development.

  3. pistolsmoke says: Feb 22, 2013 5:14 PM

    Great man, great career!

  4. i, flounder says: Feb 22, 2013 5:25 PM

    that should give him more time for gay bashing.

  5. evrybdyhas1 says: Feb 22, 2013 5:30 PM

    Congrats to a class act for a great career.

  6. freepretzels says: Feb 22, 2013 5:42 PM

    At least he won a championship in purple.

  7. broncobrewer says: Feb 22, 2013 5:58 PM

    I wish the NFL made more of last season possibly being his last than Ray Lewis’. This guy was more of a team player and class act. Plus a actual role model

  8. cometkazie says: Feb 22, 2013 6:09 PM

    He knows what is important and what isn’t.

    Congratulations on a fine career and all the best in his retirement.

  9. Ponder This says: Feb 22, 2013 6:33 PM

    Nothing but class. No, he doesn’t believe in gay marriage, but he explains his position in a way that shows respect for everyone on both sides of the issue. You can’t say that about most people. Right, i flounder?

  10. 3fingerlenny says: Feb 22, 2013 6:47 PM

    1 more year Matt

  11. zn0rseman says: Feb 22, 2013 6:47 PM

    In stead of a statue of Ray Lewis in Baltimore, there should be a statue of Matt Birk.

    These things should be the dead canary in the cage that should tell us all with alarming clarity where pro football and our society is headed.

  12. filthymcnasty1 says: Feb 22, 2013 8:18 PM

    Harvard alum parlays brains into exit from Vikings and nets a ring.

    Congrats on a great career!

  13. golforepar says: Feb 22, 2013 8:22 PM

    Nothing but class! I used to laugh when Birk played with the Vikings, on offense when a timeout was called, Birk would come to the sideline with Cullpepper. Coach Tice would ask Birk (the Harvard grad) for ideas!

  14. wludford says: Feb 22, 2013 9:52 PM

    Congratulations on a great career Matt. He was a great Viking for a lot of years and a stand-out center that anchored the offensive line. Hope you make the HOF.

  15. orivar says: Feb 22, 2013 9:54 PM

    zn0rseman says:
    Feb 22, 2013 6:47 PM
    In stead of a statue of Ray Lewis in Baltimore, there should be a statue of Matt Birk.

    These things should be the dead canary in the cage that should tell us all with alarming clarity where pro football and our society is headed.
    —————————————————-

    Other than the fact that Lewis was drafted by Baltimore and made his career there rather than signing with them for the last three years of his career, I’m pretty sure there’s more important & bigger things out there that give evidence on where our society is going, much bigger than football at least.

    Like the mindset of the people.
    Or the scam of a political process that people keep believing into.
    Or the popularity of non-progressive “reality” shows and so on.

  16. alligatorsnapper says: Feb 23, 2013 6:11 AM

    golforepar:

    You are so right! Thanks for reminding me! That made me chuckle as well. Held himself with class in MN and in the transfer to Balt. Glad for him.

    Matt’s lasting legacy may well be that he and some other current and newly retired players will help bring the NFL into the modern age by helping those who retired years ago with head injuries and huge medical bills resulting from injuries they received while playing and get the NFL to make changes to helmets and some rules.

  17. bmacwillconn says: Feb 23, 2013 9:05 AM

    Matt Birk: Opposes gay marriage. A person who earned his way from the bottom up. Education, traditional values and hard work are the guiding principles of his success.

    Watch out Matt…you just made Obama’s list of public enemies.

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