Matt Birk tells Rex Snider that reason for return to Ravens? Too cold in Minnesota

February 11, 2011 | Ryan Chell

Matt Birk

Ravens center Matt Birk just finished his second of his three year contract that he signed with Baltimore before the 2009 season. Birk-a Harvard grad, six-time Pro Bowler, and two-time All-Pro, was brought in to replace Jason Brown, who left via free agency signing a lucrative deal with the St. Louis Rams.

Birk-while not the player he was in Minnesota-has filled in nicely since Brown’s departure and has been that veteran presence on the offensive line. Rumors floated around toward the end of the 2010 season that Birk, 34, would call it quits and retire.

Fortunately for the Ravens, Birk announced Tuesday that he would finish his contract with the Ravens and return for his third season as a Raven. Baltimore is no doubt happy with the move, and he joined Rex Snider this week on “The Afternoon Drive” to discuss what went into his decision process on returning and a neat event he has going on at the end of the month of February teaming up with a few ex-Raven Matts…

On the winter…

“Yeah you kind of get into that sports abyss right now, and then you look outside and there’s not much going on. So bring on the spring time.”

On the snow…

“Yeah this is nothing, Minnesota definitely, 9 out of 10 times when I tell someone I’m from Minnesota they say, ‘Oh boy its cold up there’… that’s the first thing that they associate the state with, and they’re absolutely right.”

On Minnesota…

“That’s how it gets up there its no joke.”

On returning…

“Well I appreciate that it makes me happy too.  I just wasn’t sure after the season, and I wanted to be up front with the Ravens, and let them know where I was at. I did get a little R&R, and I actually went back  to Minnesota for a little bit, and said ‘You know what…it’s really cold here I’m not ready to move back.’ So I better keep playing…”

On his body recovering…

“Yeah you know I think when you’re banged up, its hard to remember what its like to feel good, even though you know you go through it every year. There’s other factors that play in too. I have five children and a wife that I brought out here all the way from our families, which is great. Its been a great experience here, but eventually my wife and I being from Minnesota, will move back out there and settle down, and put our roots back in the ground. You know you just kind of want to take in everything, and just like everybody in life, you just want to make sure your doing the right thing by your wife and your kids and just make sure that your heart is still in it, and mine definitely is.”

“It was more of an issue of just physically and mentally being able to gear up and do it again. I came back from vacation and talked with Coach Harbargh a couple days ago, and I just told him my intent because obviously they need to know and the sooner the better… so yeah I feel good and I’m excited.”

On the difference a month off has…

Oh yeah, there’s still some bumps and bruises. But specifically I was dealing with a knee injury at the end of the year and that’s the game of football. Thats just the way it is and that’s fine. Certainly in the last month it’s certainly healed up some and by all accounts it’s going to be fine. I’m starting to work out again and try to get the body feeling good again. That’s what February and March and for

On “Football and Faith”….

Yeah it’s pretty unique. Myself and Matt Stover, and hopefully I can get one more player to join us. Stan White is going to lead the panel of discussion. Were going to talk about the role that faith has in our lives as men and as football players, I mean it’ll be a fun night. Were going to talk about obviously the ravens and all those things, have a silent auction, a meal, and lots of freebies too.  I think its kind of a unique event in a sense that you get a chance to know a side of players that you don’t see a whole lot of. It also benefits a great ministry called Kingdom Rain which travels to the poorest parts of the world in the Uzbekistan and other places, and actually train religious leaders in these places where people literally put there lives at risk to worship. They train leaders so they can be more effect in spreading the word of God, so we thought this would be a great opportunity for people to see a different side of us, and also get people to raise money and some awareness for a great cause.”

On things more important than football..

Absolutely and that does start with faith, and I think that’s a case no matter what career or what business your in. its exciting for me because it’s a platform and an opportunity to talk about something that’s important to me and I think so far the response has been great, we’ve got hundreds of people coming out and I just think its going to be a very special and unique event for anybody and everybody that’s involved with it.

On the CBA…

It is, its uncharted territory for us, the NFL and the players have enjoyed labor peace for a long time. Inevitably there’s going to be bumps in the road there seems to be every so often. We kind of don’t know if the lockout does occur, if the owners do lock the players our after March 3. I just sort of found out for sure, if that makes sense, that our health insurance is going to be canceled, we cant go to the facility, cant communicate with coaches. There are a lot of unknowns out there and as a football player you become a creature of habit you rely on structure and schedules. 12 months a year you know what it is every January is like this. February is like this.  But we don’t know, and nobody seems to know exactly what it’s going to look like, what’s free agency going to look like if we get locked out. What is the draft be like…its kind of a looming threat that’s getting closer everyday. Hopefully cooler heads prevail and an agreement can be reached and we can avoid this whole mess.

On how CBA  impacts lives….

“Well yeah. Nobody likes the unknown…everyone wants to know what’s next, everybody wants the security and like I said its something that we haven’t gone through before with this generation of players. It’s unfortunate and whether you’re a player, a fan, an owner. It’s a business, it’s a sport that’s great and all those things. But it’s a business and there’s billions of dollars at stake, so of course certain human elements can rear there ugly head, and I guess things like this happen.  And I know nobody wants to hear about it but hopefully we can reach an agreement and we can actually have the game and the business better off for years to come.”

On Biscotti’s comments on the CBA and professionalism in the organization….

Oh there is no question that the Ravens are first class and that starts with  Mr. Biscotti, and John Harbargh, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome and all the way down. It just resonates class. I’ve only been with one other organization, and when I came  here to visit I was just so impressed by what was going on here. Just the feel and the sense you got. Really, the strength  of any organization is the people and that was evident right when I got to 1 Winning Drive, and that reputation is the Ravens throughout the league.

People that I know in other places that have never been here, we talk and then say that’s a pretty good organization to play for isn’t it. And I say absolutely. That doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Biscotti said that, and it doesn’t do any good to sling mud or say bad things about the other side. It’s a negotiation  and people a lot smarter then me will be handling that, and im sure an agreement will be reached because theres too much at stake for the business of the NFL but more so for the game of the NFL and whats been built up here for the last 80, 90, 100 years of football.”

On Football and Faith info…

“The event is at 7pm, and people can go online to footballandfaith.org and find out all the information you need, read up on it some more. Obviously I’d love to see as many people out there as I could, I think its gonna be one of those special things.”

Want to hear Birk’s chat with Rex Snider? Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!

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