Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk has announced that he will retire after 15 NFL seasons. He made his announcement Friday morning at Battle Grove Elementary School, where he was in attendance to dedicate a community reading center.
Birk, originally drafted in 1998 by the Minnesota Vikings, spent his entire career in purple – though in two different shades.
The former Harvard Crimson standout spent his first 11 seasons as a Viking before joining the Ravens in 2009. Birk is a six-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time All-Pro, a six-time Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year, the 2006 Ed Block Courage Award winner, and the 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner.
Super Bowl XLVII was the first Super Bowl of Birk’s career, and he has chosen to ride off into the sunset rather than return to the NFL for a 16th year.
Birk has started every game since coming to the Ravens, and his absence leaves the team with a void in the middle of their offensive line. Second-year player Gino Gradkowski will likely be given every opportunity to win the starting spot in 2013, while the team will likely look to add inexpensive veteran insurance at the position.
Congratulations to Birk on finally reaching the top of the mountain in the NFL, and here’s wishing him a long and enjoyable life after football.