Matt Birk could have been snapping the ball to Brett Favre this season if he had elected to stay with the Vikings. That didn't happen as Birk signed with the Baltimore Ravens five-plus months before Favre landed in Minnesota. But the veteran center made it clear he has no second thoughts about his decision.
"I don't regret it," he said today during a conference call with Twin Cities reporters. "I think I've gone on ad nauseum to explain why I made the decision I did and I'm still happy with it and that's the way it is. I don't look back."
Birk, who spent 11 seasons playing for his hometown Vikings and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, will return to Minneapolis on Sunday as the Vikings play host to the Ravens. Birk has made it clear since he left Minnesota that it didn't come down to money and he made that point again today.
"The offers were very similar," he said. "In my heart and in my gut, and talking it over with my wife, we wanted a change. A new challenge, a new experience, a new adventure. That's why we're here in Maryland."
Birk said he keeps in touch with some of his old friends from the Vikings via text message -- that list runs well below the locker room -- and also made it clear he's much busier these days with many family members not around to help out. "I have a new appreciation for those people that you're close to in your life," he said. "It's a bad thing [not to have them around], but a great thing, too. It reminds you of who and what's really important to you."
As for facing Pro Bowl defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams, Birk knows that's going to be a challenge. "It's probably scarier because I know what I'm getting into," he said. "They are great players. It starts with them but that whole defense [is good]. When you're No. 1 against the rush for three years it's not a fluke. As good as they are, we have our work cut out for us."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the addition of Birk has been key to the Ravens offense.
"Matt has really been great for our offense, for our team," Harbaugh said. "We have a young offensive line and a young quarterback. Matt, just his maturity, his experience, his leadership, just the kind of guy he is, he's kind of tied the whole thing together for us in the middle of our offense and he's obviously had a tremendous career at Minnesota. Just the kind of person he is, the character, the family man that he is. It's been really good for our team and it's really necessary really for our team. It was something that just has been really valuable for us."
The Ravens have dropped their past two games after winning three in a row to open the season. Asked if the Ravens are geared to make a Super Bowl run, Birk said: "How would I know? I've never made a Super Bowl. I'm not qualified to make that prediction."