I will admit that leading up to the Super Bowl, I was a bit surprised at how many people are not big fans of Matt Birk. Granted, I do agree to an extent with the argument that, had Birk not bolted for Baltimore in 2009, we would have won the Super Bowl. (After all, the offensive line was the critical weakness that brought us down in the NFCCG- yes, the Saints* were playing very dirty both in intent as well as in the actual plays, but our line should have still prevented a lot of things from happening.) That said, I always considered him a bit of an unsung hero (not amongst Vikings fans, but more along the lines of the general football media), and I always liked how he stood up to Randy Moss during their tenure together here. And he's always been a good standup guy. And yes, that is my opinion- others disagree.
Oh, really quickly. I hate that I have to write this but it became a bit of an issue on Ted's Birk vs. Moss post. Yes, Birk disagrees with gay marriage. Yes, he wrote an article outlining why. But you know what, the guy didn't beat up a gay person, he didn't say hateful things about gay people. He just took a fair, open, constitutionally protected free speech stance on the issue, no different than Chris Kluwe. (Actually, it was different in the fact that Sparkle Ponies did not make an appearance.) Heck, as outspoken as he has been on the issue, even Kluwe respected Birk's right to speak his opinion. I don't care where you side on that debate, this is a football forum- nothing else. Feel free to jump on Facebook, Twitter, or go find a political/ social blog to talk about that. This is your one fair warning. Post about it, and I will delete your comment and warn you. Push it and I will lift the mighty ban hammer against thee with a terrible vengeance. (I've yet to do that, don't make me.)
Ahem, now then. Birk if you didn't know is more than just a former Viking center who is now a championship winner in Baltimore (and foiler of Moss The Champion, WOOT), he's also a homegrown Vikings fan. He continues to reside in Minnesota and has never been shy that he always holds the Vikings near and dear to his heart; I don't know that he necessarily roots for them during the season, simply because I'm sure he's so focused on the Ravens, but he typically has good things to say about the organization. And speaking on the Vikings' chances of achieving what the Ravens just did, Birk had this to say to Bob Sansevere via the Pioneer Press:
"I truly do feel that the way the Wilf family is getting the hang of this ownership thing, I don't think it will be too long until the Vikings are winning a championship. I loved the way they ended this year (with) those four wins. I think football is a character game. It's different from other sports because you practice so much. You practice 95 percent of the time opposed to playing. It's a character game. Your character is revealed. I thought the way the Vikings finished was just awesome. I thought it showed they've got championship-caliber stuff. They just need a few more pieces."
OK sure, you can take it for what it's worth considering Birk is a Vikings fan himself, but I like to think the big guy knows what he's talking about. I don't care what your take on Birk is, but to me, you should always find it heartening when a player of another team, who just won a championship themselves, looks at a potential rival and goes "yeah, they could do this too".
We'll have to see where Birk goes after this. He mentioned the possibility of hanging up his cleats after this season, although it wasn't along the lines of a 95% guarantee or anything of the sort. You'd have to think that having just won the Super Bowl, and potentially facing being on a now-rebuilding team whose chances of repeating may not be that great, will factor in. Me personally being the Birk-o-phile that I am, I'd love to see him retire here via the "one last snap" move, but considering he won't be a free agent or anything like that this season I'm not sure how that would work. I bet the Ravens would agree to release him if he wanted to do that, but who knows.
Anyways, there you have it- Super Bowl winning Center Matt Birk thinks the Vikings are close. Woot!