Matt Birk Announces Retirement

Updated: February 22, 2013

After 15 years in the NFL, Baltimore Ravens’ center Matt Birk announced his decision to retire. Birk made the announcement today, which is just 19 days after he and the Ravens defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

The center’s  15-year career started when the Vikings took him with the 173rd (6th round) pick of the 1998 NFL draft. The center out of Harvard was selected to six Pro Bowls over his career, and as recently as 2007.

Birk has earned many other awards over his career as well. Birk was named the Vikings Man of the Year from 2002-2007, was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award in 2006, and was named to the All-Pro team in 2000 and 2003.

The former Harvard center played with the Vikings from 1998 when he was drafted until 2009. Birk then signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Ravens during the 2009 offseason. The center signed a three-year, $8.525 millon dollar deal with Baltimore last March but decided to retire after his first Super Bowl win instead of continuing to play.

Birk was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2011 for his community service. The center also said that he has made plans to donate his brain after his death in order to help doctors study the effect his concussions had on his brain.

The center finished his career with 112 straight starts which was the longest active streak for a center in the NFL as of today.

Birk told reporters today at Baltimore elementary school “I’m old. I’ve got six kids. It’s time to do something else.”

The center, 36, would turn 37 at the beginning of this year’s training camp. The Ravens drafted Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round of the draft last year to take over for Birk when he retired.

ESPN reported that Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said, “we were all so fortunate to have Matt Birk as a Raven – the team, everyone in our building, the community.”

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