Birk during the Ravens' training camp in August 2009.
|No. 75, 78, 77|
|Date of birth:||July 23, 1976|
|Place of birth:||St. Paul, Minnesota|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||310 lb (141 kg)|
|High school:||St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall|
|NFL Draft:||1998 / Round: 6 / Pick: 173|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Matthew Robert "Matt" Birk (born July 23, 1976) is a former American football center. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft, and later played for the Baltimore Ravens. He played college football at Harvard. Birk is a two-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowl selection, and one-time Super Bowl champion.
Birk attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was a letterman and standout in football, basketball, and track & field. He was an All-St. Paul Conference honoree, an Academic All-State honoree, and an All-State honoree in both football and basketball. In 1994, Birk proudly proclaims that he was able to hold Sam Jacobson (Minnesota Mr. Basketball of that year) to 29 points in the section basketball finals. Birk graduated from Cretin-Derham in 1994.
Birk graduated from Harvard University in 1998 with a degree in economics. While playing for the Harvard Crimson, he attained All-Ivy League, All-New England and Division I-AA All-ECAC first team football honors.
Ranked as the No. 16 offensive tackle available, Birk was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 6th round (173rd overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft. He was described by Sports Illustrated as "maybe the best Ivy League prospect to come along in several years", who "could be a nice developmental type pick". Birk was the first Harvard Crimson lineman to be selected in an NFL draft since Roger Caron in 1985.
During his first two seasons with the Vikings, he appeared in 22 games as a backup offensive lineman. In 2000, he took over the starting center position for the Vikings, starting all 16 games and was named to his first Pro Bowl team. Birk started every game for the Vikings at center from 2000-2003.
In 2004, Birk missed the last 4 games of the season due to surgery to treat a sports hernia. He missed the entire 2005 season with a hip injury that required surgery.
Birk returned to form in 2006, anchoring the Vikings offensive line from the center spot and earning his fifth career Pro Bowl selection. In 2007, Birk was named Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year for the sixth year in a row. He also earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection, tying Mick Tingelhoff for most Pro Bowl appearances by a Vikings center.
On March 16, 2012, Birk signed a new three-year deal with the Ravens. He won his first career championship during Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers. Birk announced his retirement on February 22, 2013.
On July 10, 2014, Birk was named the NFL director of football development.
Birk established the HIKE Foundation in 2002, which seeks to "impact the lives of at-risk children by providing interactive programs and resources needed to guide a child through the key educational transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college." The foundation launched "Ready, Set, Read!" in select Baltimore area public schools in the fall of 2010. The program works with about 100,000 Baltimore students on improving their reading skills through an incentive-based system. Birk received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2011 for his commitment to improving literacy among at-risk youth.
Birk is a pro-life activist. His wife volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center and he participated in the Maryland March for Life in 2011. He is also a practicing Catholic and father of seven.
In October 2012, Birk publicly spoke out against gay marriage before a Maryland ballot referendum on the Civil Marriage Protection Act which eventually passed. He also penned an op-ed, published in the Star Tribune on October 2, 2012, calling for passage of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment that would amend that state's constitution to prohibit gay marriage; it was defeated in the fall election and gay marriage was legalized in Minnesota in 2013.
After the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, Birk chose not to attend the celebratory meeting with President Barack Obama, saying "I wasn't there. I would say this, I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.' Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way."