Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
If you've been paying attention to the NFL playoffs. . .and, if you're reading this, the odds are good that you probably are. . .you know that Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis has said that this will be his final season of professional football. The flamboyant Lewis has said that this is his "last ride," and that seems to be working as a bit of a rallying cry for his teammates.
However, as Pro Football Talk pointed out a little while ago, there's another venerable member of the Ravens that might see his career ended tomorrow. . .or after Super Bowl XLVII, if the Ravens can knock off the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Ravens center Matt Birk, who spent the first eleven seasons of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, could also be riding off into that proverbial sunset. Birk was drafted by the Vikings in 1998. . .in case you're unaware, he went to Harvard. . .and was primarily a special teamer on the squad that lost the NFC Championship Game to the Atlanta Falcons. He is in his fifteenth year in the NFL, having joined the Ravens prior to the 2009 season.
Obviously, his potential retirement isn't getting the same attention as Ray Lewis'. . .and Birk kind of likes it that way.
"A guy like Ray Lewis, you send him off properly - press conferences, all that stuff," Birk said after Friday's practice. "Guys like me, I just disappear, and then you're sitting around one day wondering, 'Hey, whatever happened to that guy whose locker used to be over here?' That's how it goes."
Birk, a native of St. Paul, did a lot for the Twin Cities during his time as a Viking, and was a six-time recipient of the Minnesota Vikings' Man of the Year award, receiving that distinction every year from 2002 to 2007. I don't know if he's a Hall of Famer at this point or anything like that. . .but if the Ravens should get past the Patriots tomorrow and find themselves in the Super Bowl, it's going to be tough not to cheer for the guy, in my opinion.
Birk hasn't confirmed whether or not this season will be his last. If the Ravens can get a championship "for Ray," I suspect it would make Birk's decision a little easier.