Hartman: Birk's ultimate goal is within his grasp

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 23, 2013 - 11:07 PM

In his 15th season, the longtime Vikings stalwart finds himself in his first Super Bowl with the Ravens.

hide

Matt Birk

Photo: file, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Matt Birk says he spent 11 fantastic years with the Vikings. But the Cretin-Derham Hall alum, who left as a free agent in 2009, knows that everything happens for a reason, and with that mindset he has really enjoyed his four years with the Baltimore Ravens. And now, he says, his biggest dream has a chance to come true as he plays in the Super Bowl for the first time in his illustrious 15-year career.

"I mean, that's your dream," said Birk, who is the starting center for the Ravens, who face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. "You just hope that if you make it in the NFL that you're fortunate enough to be part of a team that can make it to the Super Bowl and ultimately win it.

"That's the goal, not just to go but to win it. We're a step away."

There were rumors after last season that the Vikings' sixth-round draft choice out of Harvard in 1998 would retire after 14 years in the NFL.

"I certainly thought about it. But I just waited after the season to kind of see how my body felt at first and to see what my family wanted to do, if they were up for it again," Birk said. "I mean when the season ended, I wanted to come back because I knew we had a great team and I really enjoyed the guys, but I just wanted to make sure that I could do it and that I could contribute to the team. I didn't want to do it just to do it, just to try to hang on."

Asked to talk about the great teams he has played on, and what makes this particular Ravens team unique, Birk said: "Obviously every team has its own style of football. Our style is our own, but I think we have a lot of things that all good teams have. You have great players and great coaches and guys that really enjoy each other and care about each other and guys that are willing to take whatever sacrifices they have to make for the good of the team."

Birk said that the atmosphere around the team has really picked up during this postseason run.

"When you win, it's a heck of a lot of fun," he said. "I've been real healthy this year, and obviously winning games is what it's all about. That's why you play. It's a great feeling in the locker room after you win."

McKinnie improved

Birk said that Bryant McKinnie, Birk's fellow offensive lineman with both the Vikings and Baltimore, worked hard all year to get and stay in shape this season. While the big left tackle didn't play much in the regular season, he got his shot in the playoffs. An injury gave McKinnie a chance to start, and Birk said McKinnie was prepared and has played great.

"He started last year for us and didn't start this year," Birk said, "but got his chance when we had an injury the last game of the season. He's making the most of it."

Birk talked about the unique situation of having two brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl.

"Obviously you look at [San Francisco coach] Jim and [Baltimore coach] John Harbaugh and what they've been able to do in such a short time as head coaches in this league, it's not a fluke," he said. "They're great football coaches, both of them in their own right. I'm sure there's a lot of similarities between them, but obviously there's also differences.

"They each have their own personalities and kind of put their own stamp on their teams.

"We played [San Francisco] last year, and it was a great game. Their defense is great, probably as good as I've ever seen. Offensively, they're playing well. It'll be a great challenge for us."

Finally, I asked Birk, 36, if there was any talk of retiring after this year. "We'll see, we'll see," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy the present and then I'll make a decision about my future when I have to."

Handel promoted

Randy Handel, who has been serving as the University of Minnesota's interim associate athletic director for development, has been named permanently to the post. Handel has served the athletic department in various roles since 2010.

Handel, a Woodbury resident, had a primary role as a major gifts officer for the university, working on fundraising for capital campaigns and scholarship endowments.

Jottings

• Brendan Beal, the Gophers linebacker who has had one knee problem after another, having torn his ACL three times, is taking a medical leave from the team. Everyone else on the Gophers with eligibility left will return except for defensive ends Matt Garin and Eric Jacques, who are graduating and moving on.

• Andre McDonald, the Gophers wide receiver from Hopkins who was ranked with the top recruits of the 2012 class but was suspended before the bowl game, is in school and is expected to be ready to play next fall.

• All four of the Gophers football recruits who were scheduled to start school Tuesday showed up, enrolled and will be able to take part in spring practice. They are: quarterback Chris Streveler of Marion (Ill.) Central Catholic; defensive end Hendrick Ekpe of Lewiston, Texas, who joins brother Scott on the team; Damien Wilson of Jones County (Miss.) Junior College, who was named linebacker of the year in his conference; and linebacker Jordan Hinojosa, who signed in 2011 but had to go to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College for academic reasons.

• Former Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano, whose two-year contract with the Pirates was withdrawn when he suffered an injury to his non-pitching arm, has signed a new deal with the club.

• Tony Dungy, the former Colts coach, was among those unhappy when his old team fired Tom Moore, the former Vikings offensive coordinator who played a big part in the development of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. So it was great to hear that newly named Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who served as Colts offensive coordinator and also interim coach this season, brought Moore back to the NFL to be his assistant offensive head coach.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close