NEW ORLEANS -- In some ways, 1998 doesn’t seem that long ago. Then again, we haven’t been playing center in the National Football League for the past 15 seasons.
So when current Raven and former Viking Matt Birk was asked yesterday whether he thought it would take 15 seasons for him to reach the Super Bowl, he answered like a guy who has been through a decade and a half of the NFL’s aches and pains.
“I didn’t think I was going to be here 15 years later in 1998,” said Birk, the Vikings’ sixth-round draft pick that year.
Birk also was asked for his thoughts on former Vikings teammate and fellow 1998 draft class member Randy Moss. The two weren’t exactly best buds, particularly when the SuperFreak walked off the field with 2 seconds left and the Vikings lining up for an onside kick in a loss at Washington in the 2004 regular-season finale.
But Birk, whose Ravens play Moss’ 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, followed Denny Green’s old advice and kept himself up on the high road while talking about Moss.
“I was fortunate enough to play with Randy for seven years and the way he took the league by storm was unbelievable,” Birk said. “To be a part of that and to be his teammate for seven years, we had a lot of fun in the locker room and obviously won a lot of games in large part to him.  I haven’t kept in touch with him or anything like that, but obviously I’m happy for him and that he’s still playing.
“I think Randy’s been through a lot, gone through a lot of different things, but I understand having been his teammate for seven years what a competitor he is and how hard he works.”
Asked if ther are any “misconceptions” about Moss, Birk said, “I would just say he was a great teammate, extremely hardworking.  I mean the things he did on the football field were fantastic.  Those are the guys you want to play with, those types of competitors.”