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

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Pittsburgh 27
Arizona 1/3/15 3:35 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 1/3/15 7:15 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 107 FINAL
Dallas 112
New York 79 FINAL
Portland 101
Toronto 116 FINAL
Denver 102
Phoenix 116 FINAL
LA Lakers 107
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 FINAL(OT)
Anaheim 2
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 73 FINAL
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
UMBC 55
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
UCLA 50 FINAL
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 62 FINAL
Washington 57
Buffalo 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
CS-Bakersfield 55 FINAL
California 52
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
UCLA 67
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 58 FINAL
Memphis 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close