For 11 seasons, Matt Birk and Brett Favre battled one another as team leaders of the Vikings and Packers, respectively. Had Birk not left this past offseason as a free agent to join the Baltimore Ravens, the one-time border rivals would’ve been teammates, a seemingly unthinkable proposition even 3 years ago.
Now that’s he’s full-throttle in his 1st season with Baltimore and he’s preparing to face his former team for the 1st time, it’d be easy to look back at his decision to leave home and question it. Instead, Birk says he doesn’t regret choosing a change of scenery, and in listening to his head coach speak, it’s clear the Ravens certainly don’t regret it, either.
“Matt has really been great for our offense and for our team,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “We have a young offensive line and a young quarterback and Matt’s maturity, his experience, just the kind of guy he is ties the whole thing for us. He obviously has had a tremendous career at Minnesota. The kind of person he is and the character family man that he is has been very good for our team. It really is necessary for our team. He has been really valuable for us.”
Birk met with Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday and indicated his decision to leave the Vikings was not a squabble over money. Rather, it was a decision he made with his family and one that was based primarily on the desire to embrace a new challenge.
“I’ve said before it wasn’t a money thing,” Birk explained. “The offers were very similar. It was a decision that I thought in my heart and in my gut and talking it over with my wife that we wanted a change, a new challenge, a new experience, and a new adventure and that’s why we’re here in Maryland.”
Birk also told reporters that he doesn’t keep regular contact with any old teammates, but that he does check scores around the league, including the Vikings score each week.
The biggest change for the Birks now that they live in Maryland, a time zone away from their home state of Minnesota? Dealing with being away from the support of friends and family.
“We have a new appreciation for those people that you are close to in your life, the people that really care about you and that you really love,” Birk said. “That is kind of a bad thing but obviously a great thing too. It kind of reminds you of who and what is really important.”
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