Matt Birk
Birk in 2012.
No. 75, 78, 77
Personal information
Born: (1976-07-23) July 23, 1976 (age 45)
St. Paul, Minnesota
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:310 lb (141 kg)
Career information
High school:Cretin-Derham Hall
(Saint Paul, Minnesota)
NFL Draft:1998 / Round: 6 / Pick: 173
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:210
Games started:187
Player stats at · PFR

Matthew Robert Birk (born July 23, 1976) is a former American football center. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft, and later played for the Baltimore Ravens. He played college football at Harvard.[1] Birk is an All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowl selection, and a Super Bowl champion.

Early years

Birk attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was a letterman and standout in football, basketball, and track & field.[2] He was an All-St. Paul Conference honoree, an Academic All-State honoree, and an All-State honoree in both football and basketball. Birk brags that he was able to hold Sam Jacobson to 29 points in the 1994 section basketball finals. Birk graduated from Cretin-Derham in 1994.

College career

Birk graduated from Harvard University in 1998 with a degree in economics.[1] While playing for the Harvard Crimson, he attained All-Ivy League, All-New England and Division I-AA All-ECAC first team football honors.

Professional career

1998 NFL Draft

Ranked as the No. 16 offensive tackle available,[3] Birk was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 6th round (173rd overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft.[4] He was described by Sports Illustrated as "maybe the best Ivy League prospect to come along in several years", who "could be a nice developmental type pick".[5] Birk was the first Harvard Crimson lineman to be selected in an NFL draft since Roger Caron in 1985.[6]

Minnesota Vikings

Birk as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002
Birk as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002

During his first two seasons with the Vikings, he appeared in 22 games as a backup offensive lineman. In 2000, he took over the starting center position for the Vikings, starting all 16 games and was named to his first Pro Bowl team.[7][8] Birk started every game for the Vikings at center from 2000-2003.[9][10][11]

In 2004, Birk missed the last 4 games of the season due to surgery to treat a sports hernia.[12] He missed the entire 2005 season with a hip injury that required surgery.[13]

Birk returned to form in 2006, anchoring the Vikings offensive line from the center spot and earning his fifth career Pro Bowl selection.[14] In 2007, Birk was named Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year for the sixth year in a row.[15] He also earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection, tying Mick Tingelhoff for most Pro Bowl appearances by a Vikings center.[16][17]

Baltimore Ravens

An unrestricted free agent in the 2009 offseason, Birk signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens on March 4. The deal included $6 million guaranteed.[18]

On March 16, 2012, Birk signed a new three-year deal with the Ravens. He won his first career championship during Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers.[19] Birk announced his retirement on February 22, 2013.[20][21]

Post-NFL career

On July 10, 2014, Birk was named the NFL director of football development.[22]

Personal life

Birk established the HIKE Foundation in 2002, which seeks to "impact the lives of at-risk children by providing interactive programs and resources needed to guide a child through the key educational transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college."[23] The foundation launched "Ready, Set, Read!" in select Baltimore area public schools in the fall of 2010. The program works with about 100,000 Baltimore students on improving their reading skills through an incentive-based system.[24] Birk received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2011 for his commitment to improving literacy among at-risk youth.[25][26]

He was named the sixth-smartest athlete by the Sporting News in 2010.[27] Birk scored a 46 on the Wonderlic Test, the seventh-highest score in NFL history.[28]

Birk is a pro life activist. His wife volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center and he participated in the Maryland March for Life in 2011.[29] He is also a practicing Catholic and father of eight.[30]

In October 2012, Birk publicly spoke out against gay marriage before a Maryland ballot referendum on the Civil Marriage Protection Act which eventually passed.[31] He also penned an op-ed, published in the Star Tribune on October 2, 2012, calling for passage of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment that would amend that state's constitution to prohibit gay marriage; it was defeated in the fall election and gay marriage was legalized in Minnesota in 2013.[32]

Birk announced in February 2013 his intentions to eventually donate his brain to Boston University’s School of Medicine for research into concussions.[33]

After the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, Birk chose not to attend the celebratory meeting with President Barack Obama, saying "I wasn't there. I would say this, I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.' Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way."[34] On January 19, 2018, Birk spoke at the 45th annual March for Life in support of being pro-life.[35]


  1. ^ a b Van Valkenburg, Kevin (August 27, 2009), "Veteran Birk leads Ravens' young O-line", The Baltimore Sun[permanent dead link].
  2. ^ "Matt Birk doles out Golden Football to Alma Mater". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  3. ^[dead link]
  4. ^ "1998 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  5. ^[dead link]
  6. ^ "Harvard Drafted Players/Alumni". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "2000 Minnesota Vikings Starters, Roster, & Players". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  8. ^ "Matt Birk '98 Named to NFL Pro Bowl | Sports | The Harvard Crimson". The Crimson. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "2001 Minnesota Vikings Starters, Roster & Players". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  10. ^ "2002 Minnesota Vikings Starters, Roster, & Players". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  11. ^ "2003 Minnesota Vikings Starters, Roster, & Players". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  12. ^ "Vikings' Birk willing to play through pain, but at a price". August 24, 2005. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  13. ^ "Vikings to place Matt Birk on injured reserve". August 30, 2005. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  14. ^ "2006 NFL Pro Bowlers". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  15. ^ "NFL: Former Viking's mission to help people out". Brainerd Dispatch. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  16. ^ "2007 NFL Pro Bowlers". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  17. ^ "Matt Birk went from sixth-rounder to hometown success story for Vikings". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Duffy, Mike (March 4, 2009), "Birk Shores Up Ravens at Center",, archived from the original on February 14, 2012, retrieved March 4, 2009.
  19. ^ "Super Bowl XLVII - San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens - February 3rd, 2013". Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "Ravens center Matt Birk retires after 15 seasons in NFL". Baltimore Sun. February 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Hanzus, Dan (February 22, 2013). "Baltimore Ravens' Matt Birk announces retirement". National Football League. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  22. ^ "NFL names Matt Birk Director of Football Development". July 10, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  23. ^ "Hike Foundation". Hike Foundation. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  24. ^ "Hike Foundation Programs". Hike Foundation. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  25. ^ "Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens Center, Named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year". Huffington Post. February 5, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  26. ^ "Ravens' Birk earn Walter Payton Man of the Year Award",, February 4, 2012.
  27. ^ 20 smartest athletes in sports-Sporting News Archived May 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  28. ^ "11 Best Wonderlic Scores Ever at NFL Scouting Combine". March 2018.
  29. ^ "Matt Birk speaks up for life". Archdiocese of Baltimore. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  30. ^ "Baltimore Ravens' Matt Birk Stays Centered on Christ". National Catholic Register. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  31. ^ Matt Birk joins fight against same-sex marriage-Baltimore Sun Retrieved October 4, 2012/
  32. ^ Matt Birk, NFL's Matt Birk: Let's protect marriage -- and speech, Star Tribune, October 2, 2012, accessed May 14, 2013.
  33. ^ Baltimore Ravens Player Matt Birk Will Donate His Brain to Boston University For Research
  34. ^ Matt Birk explains skipping Ravens' White House visit Marc Sessler, Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  35. ^ "Turning Point USA".

Further reading