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

NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: A. Ramos 9
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: G. Balfour 4
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Maness 5
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Turner 4
Detroit 7 Bottom 7th Inning
Cleveland 1
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Hammel 6
San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 4 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Friedrich 2
Arizona 1 Bottom 7th Inning
San Diego 3
San Francisco 4 Top 4th Inning
Colorado 2
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 10 0:00
Calgary 18
Indiana 82 2nd OT 0:47
Chicago 85
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 Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close