On Now
Coming Up
  • Fri., Feb. 12, 2016 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM EST Poe Grams Poe will be available to surprise your loved one at work, home, or school. Poe will be stocking up for your Valentine at Giant Food, Smyth Jewelers, and Merritt Athletic Clubs to create a memorable experience that your loved one won’t forget!
  • Sat., Feb. 20, 2016 10:00 AM EST Cheerleader Prep Clinic The purpose of the clinic is to provide prospective cheerleaders with the best preparation for try-outs on March 5th.
  • Sat., Mar. 05, 2016 9:30 AM EST Cheerleader Tryouts Come join us and become part of the best cheerleading program in the NFL!
  • Sat., Mar. 12, 2016 11:00 AM EST Playmakers Tryouts The Playmakers are the Ravens promotional team. Come join us and become part of the best organization in the NFL.
  • Sat., Apr. 02, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Marching Ravens Tryouts Come join us and become part of the best marching band in the NFL!
  • Sat., Apr. 02, 2016 2:00 PM EDT Torrey Smith Charity Basketball Game Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith announced that his annual charity basketball game will return to Baltimore on April 2 at Royal Farms Arena.
  • Thu., Apr. 28, 2016 8:00 PM EDT NFL Draft The 2016 NFL Draft will be held from April 28-30 in Chicago, IL.
  • Fri., Apr. 29, 2016 7:00 PM EDT NFL Draft The 2016 NFL Draft will be held from April 28-30 in Chicago, IL.
  • Sat., Apr. 30, 2016 12:00 PM EDT NFL Draft The 2016 NFL Draft will be held from April 28-30 in Chicago, IL.
  • Thu., Jun. 02, 2016 8:00 AM EDT Ravens Beach Bash This summer will mark the 5th annual Ravens Ocean City Beach Bash, presented by Miller Lite, June 2-4 in Ocean City, Md. Join Ravens Players, Cheerleaders, Playmakers, Band, Mascots and talent from 98Rock and Miller Lite as they turn Ocean City into Ravenstown for the weekend.

News

Print
RSS

Matt Birk: Gino Gradkowski Is 'The Guy'

Posted Mar 2, 2014

Matt Birk published his first book, "All-Pro Wisdom," outlining seven choices that lead to greatness.


Matt Birk spent a year mentoring Gino Gradkowski. Then he spent a year watching him.

After Gradkowski’s up-and-down 2013 season replacing Birk as the Ravens’ starting center, the elder statesman is as convinced as ever that Gradkowski is still the long-term solution despite media and fan chatter that the Ravens need a change.

“He is the guy, no question,” said Birk, who was back in Baltimore Thursday to promote his new book, “All-Pro Wisdom: The 7 Choices That Lead to Greatness.”

“It’s a process. It’s a journey. I think the best thing Gino has going for him is his attitude and his character. That comes through when you’re playing football. As a Ravens fan myself, I don’t worry about Gino.”

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Gradkowski started the year with five straight negative performances. His play leveled out after that. He had five games with either neutral or positive grades. On the year, Gradkowski received a -5.9 grade for his run blocking and -14.2 in pass blocking from PFF.

It wasn’t Gradkowski’s size that gave him the most trouble. He held up well physically for the most part, he said after the year.

It was the mental part of the game that took adjusting. It was a matter of reading defenses, including complex blitzes, and making calls at the line to get the unit on the same page.

“It’s challenging,” Birk said. “Until you do it, you don’t really know what you don’t know. That’s why experience is so valuable. Failure is the great teacher.”

Birk said Gradkowski will have an opportunity this offseason to slow down and evaluate himself with a different perspective – introspection that the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t allow for.

It took Birk three years to become a starter in the NFL. Once he did, in 2000, he went to the Pro Bowl. He credited that in part to having excellent linemen around him. Gradkowski had an injured left guard (Kelechi Osemele) next to him and turnover at left tackle.

“Gino played well. He battled his butt off, which I knew he would,” Birk said.

“He prepares the right way and does everything the right way. Those are the kinds of things you want. There’s no substitute for game experience in the NFL and I’m sure Gino learned a lot. He’ll pick up right where he left off and be better this year.”

Birk’s book, “All-Pro Wisdom,” is on shelves and for sale on Amazon. It’s something he began working on with neighbor Rich Champan, a successful businessman, during Birk’s final NFL season in 2012. It’s the retired center’s first shot at being an author.

“I think everywhere you look, people don’t have enough confidence, passion, focus, strength to overcome, self-limitations and those types of things,” Birk said.

“That’s what this book and the seven choices are about. It provides a framework for people to follow in order to accomplish those things and ultimately become the greatest version of themselves.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Related News

Recent Videos

Recent Photos