In light of St. Paul native, Cretin alum and former Viking Matt Birk winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award tonight, here's a link to the column I did with Matt on the subject, and many others, earlier this week: http://t.co/HnxAPR8n
Matt and I spoke for a long time and covered more topics than I could get to in a newspaper column. Here's one: I asked, given his concerns about the high risk of injury and the debilitating nature of football, whether he ever wished he had done something else. He graduated from Harvard, after all. He could have worked on Wall Street.
``I really can't say I ever wished I did anything else,'' he said. ``This has been a blast. It really has. The whole experience.Really, that's because of the relationships, the friendships, you make while playing football. You have a bonding with your teammates that you don't have in other walks of life, because of what you go through together, and experience together.
``Guys always say, when they retired, that they miss two things: The paychecks and, most of all, the lockerroom. Hanging out with the guys. Show up every day wearing flip flops and shorts and if you choose to you can use any word in the English l,anguage and some that aren’t in the language, and walk around naked in front of 60 other guys. You could say it's a unique work environment.
``You sit there and laugh and say there can't be any other place of employment where this is possible.''
And I asked him if the award was even more meaningful because Walter Payton's name is attached to it.
``Oh, absolutely,'' he said. ``When I was a kid, Walter was the man. He was the best. I was actually up for this award a few years ago and go to to go the Super Bowl, just like this week, and it was a real nice deal.
``They put you in this room for lunch with the commissioner and the finalists and the Payton family. I remember talking to his widow and his two kids, and you hear about the man, stories about him and what he did for people and what he meant to people. It's a special deal.''
Matt said he'd come on my radio show, and I have a text into him to confirm. Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from 10-11:30 on 1500espn tomorrow. We'll hit on all the local teams and dissect the Super Bowl. Guests should include Matt Birk, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and guest NFL picker Tom Linnemann. I believe Pelissero and I are going to strongly disagree over who's going to win.
Again, congratulations to Birk. I've known him since 1998 and can say he's very deserving of this award for his strong play and good works over the years.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
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