Ravens C Matt Birk was named the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year on Saturday evening.
"I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year," Birk said. "This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live. Walter Payton left a legacy that went beyond the playing field. He continues to be an inspiration and example of what a complete NFL player should aspire to become. I am grateful to have played for two organizations, the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, which encourage and support their players' community efforts. I have always considered it a privilege to play in the NFL and serve the communities that support our game."
Birk has started 96 consecutive games and just finished his 14th NFL season. His "Ready, Set, Read!" program, an initiative of his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education), reaches nearly 100,000 children in the Baltimore area and motivates students to read at home through an incentive-based system.