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LOMBARDI’S WAY: Matt Birk to the Ravens
Posted By Tony Lombardi On March 5, 2009 @ 12:00 am In Lombardi's Way | No Comments
I just finished watching the Matt Birk press conference and I can’t help but think that some things happen for reasons.
I like Jason Brown. I like his smarts and his leadership. I do think his game is a tad overrated at the moment but that’s not to say that he can’t become a Pro Bowl caliber center. In fact I think he will become that player.
Matt Birk already is that player – a Pro Bowler. Plus he’s a Harvard Grad and was the leader of one of the game’s best offensive lines in Minnesota. Centers can go at it for quite a while in the NFL so age shouldn’t really be a factor given the 32-year-old Birk’s 3 year deal – a deal mind you (3 years, $12 million) that is dwarfed by Jason Brown’s 6 year, $37.5 million deal.
Keep this in mind too… Brown was a fourth round pick. What’s to say that Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz can’t find the next Jason Brown in the 2009 NFL Draft? And this time around, the newly drafted center will have a player who just might have put the “M” in mentor to help bring the young player around.
Yet this signing begs the question why – why did Birk pick Baltimore over Minnesota? Here’s a guy who was born and bred in Minnesota and has been a career long Viking. He is a decorated player with 6 trips to Honolulu on his resume. His story is somewhat Ripken-esque.
He has four young children and anyone that has elementary school children and toddlers knows that it’s hard to uproot them and even more challenging to find the infrastructure – the support system to care for the children in the event Mom wants to have some semblance of a life outside of being a parent or if Mommy and Daddy want to have a quiet dinner in Little Italy at LaScala Ristorante.
Was it the money?
Don’t think so. From what we’ve been told Minnesota was offering money comparable to the Ravens and what Birk received from Ozzie Newsome almost seems like chump change given the deals of Jason Brown and Jake Grove (5 year, $30 million deal that includes $14.5 million guaranteed).
Maybe Birk didn’t want to play in a crappy dome any more.
Maybe he likes the Chesapeake Bay.
Perhaps he doesn’t like Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress.
Did someone say Super Bowl ring?
However you look at it, the move qualifies as a win-win. The Ravens get a solid player who once took on Shaun Rogers twice annually when Rogers was with the Lions. He is a great signal caller on the line and he’s an outstanding human being.
Birk might not be the mauler he once was but he could help the youthful talent that will line up to his left (Ben Grubbs) and right (Marshal Yanda) next season.
Good things happen to good people.
Things happen for reasons.
Tired clichés for sure but would anyone be surprised if one day Matt Birk hoists the Lombardi Trophy and emphatically claims, “This is why I came to Baltimore!”
The big free agent signings get the media’s attention but it’s signings like Matt Birk’s that helps win championships.
Score one for Ozzie.
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