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  • Mon., Aug. 01, 2016 7:00 PM EDT Training Camp Military Appreciation Day The first M&T Bank Stadium practice will take place on Monday, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. This practice – free and open to all fans – coincides with the Ravens’ annual Military Appreciation Day. Approximately 3,500 special seats will be reserved for active service members and veterans who present valid military identification upon check-in at the stadium.
  • Sat., Aug. 06, 2016 6:00 PM EDT Training Camp Fireworks Night On Saturday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m., the second M&T Bank Stadium practice will showcase the organization’s third-annual Fireworks Night, an event highlighted by post-practice autographs for children and a fireworks/laser show.
  • Fri., Sep. 09, 2016 5:00 PM EDT Countdown To Kickoff Party Presented By Miller Lite Grammy Award®-nominated rock band 3 DOORS DOWN will perform at the Ravens Countdown to Kickoff Party Presented by Miller Lite on Friday, Sept. 9 at Maryland State Fairgrounds. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. Open to all ages.
  • Mon., Oct. 03, 2016 5:00 PM EDT A Purple Evening A Purple Evening is back! Join Purple on Monday, October 3rd for on-field drills, player appearances and autographs, giveaways, and much more! Tickets will go on sale soon. Check Purple-Just for Women on Facebook for the latest club and event information.
  • Sun., Oct. 23, 2016 7:30 AM EDT Purple Away Game Trip Up the Jersey Turnpike we go! Hit the road with the Purple Club on Sunday, October 23rd to watch our Baltimore Ravens take on the New York Jets for a 1:00 p.m. game at MetLife Stadium. Don't miss your chance to join the only NFL women's fan club to travel into unfamiliar territory!
  • Sat., Dec. 10, 2016 2:00 PM EST Army vs. Navy Football Don't miss one of the greatest events you can ever attend! The Army-Navy Game presented by USAA returns to M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, December 10, 2016

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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.”

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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.

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