Birk has decided to retire after 15 seasons in the NFL, the last winning a Super Bowl title with the Baltimore Ravens.|||||||
A sixth-round draft selection in 1998, Birk played 11 seasons in Minnesota before going to Baltimore. He went to six Pro Bowls and played 210 regular-season games with 124 consecutive starts, including the playoffs. Birk also has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine for head trauma research.
Birk has voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage, a view that opposes that of teammate Brandon Ayanbadejo.|||||||
In an article printed Sunday in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Birk wrote, "Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both." Birk is a Roman Catholic and father of six. Ayanbadejo previously spoke in favor of gay marriage.
Birk is planning to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in the next few days, according to his agent.|||||||
Birk's agent, Joe Linta, says the six-time Pro Bowl center should be able to return in a few weeks. The Ravens signed former Washington Redskins center Casey Rabach to a two-year contract on Tuesday to back up Birk, who played in all 16 games for Baltimore last year despite having knee problems. The 35-year-old Birk has not practiced with the team this week, but hopes to be ready for the Sept. 11 opener against Pittsburgh.
Had Birk chosen to use his Harvard degree in the business world, he probably would have a secure 9-to-5 office job that requires a suit and tie. Instead, for the past 13 years, Birk has been part of a high-risk profession that mandates wearing a helmet and pads.|||||||
Despite having an economics degree from one of the country's most prestigious universities, Birk pursued a career in the NFL. Now in his second year with the Baltimore Ravens after a long run with Minnesota, the 34-year-old Birk has no regrets. "Like I've wasted the past 13 years because I could have done something else with my life? I didn't think it would last 13 days, let alone 13 years," Birk said Wednesday. "This is a heck of a way to make a living."
Birk is among more than a dozen NFL players who have pledged to donate their brain and spinal cord tissue for concussion research.|||||||
In December, the NFL and its players association said they would support the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine's research and encouraged players to participate. The NFL said it was willing to give $1 million or more to the center.