Coming Up
  • Sun., Dec. 04, 2016 4:10 PM EST Live Post Game Presser John Harbaugh and key players will address the media following the game.
  • Mon., Dec. 05, 2016 4:00 PM EST Live John Harbaugh Presser Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will address the media.
  • Tue., Dec. 06, 2016 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM EST Purple Wine & Dine The night will include appetizers, a gourmet dinner served in front of each attendee by our stadium chefs, open bar and a custom Ravens giveaway. Ravens players will be in attendance to meet with all attendees, sign autographs, take photographs and mingle throughout the evening.
  • Wed., Dec. 07, 2016 12:30 PM EST Live Press Conference Head coach John Harbaugh and key players will address the media following practice.
  • Sat., Dec. 10, 2016 3:00 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
  • Sat., Dec. 10, 2016 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EST Ravens Report Hosted by WUSA-TV's Kristen Berset, Ravens Report, the flagship program of the Baltimore Ravens that showcases life in the NFL. Created by Ravens Productions, this magazine-style show features behind-the-scenes access to Ravens players and coaches as they prepare for each week's opponent.
  • Sat., Dec. 10, 2016 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM EST Ravens Report See the plays, hear the sideline conversations and feel the hits on Ravens Wired, the only behind-the-scenes show featuring a Ravens player wired for sound during each week's game. Go behind the Ravens bench for in-game adjustments and inside the locker room for Head Coach John Harbaugh's post-game speech. Produced by Ravens Productions, Ravens Wired is hosted by WBAL-TV's Keith Mills.
  • Sun., Dec. 11, 2016 1:00 AM - 1:30 AM EST Ravens Unscripted Ravens beat writers Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing join our host to tackle the latest Ravens headlines and hottest topics. Each week's show, brought to you by Ravens Productions, also features a special guest, including prominent sports media, front office staff, players or other Ravens insiders.
  • Mon., Dec. 12, 2016 8:30 PM EST Purple Club Happy Hour What's better than Happy Hour specials and Baltimore Ravens football? A Purple Club Happy Hour! Join the Purple club this season at various Buffalo Wild Wings locations to watch the Ravens on the road.

News

Print
RSS

Matt Birk Weighs In On Concussion Debate

Posted Oct 24, 2013

Matt Birk said despite the brain research he wouldn't change a thing about playing football.


Matt Birk played 15 seasons in the NFL and took countless hits to the head in the rough-and-tumble trenches.

He wouldn’t take back any of them – no matter what happens to his body down the road.

As of last week, Birk hadn’t yet watched PBS’s documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.”

He knows about it, and the work that has been done. But it’s not going to change his mind.

“I knew in high school before I read any studies that football wasn’t good for my head,” Birk said. “I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.”

It’s not that Birk doesn’t trust the doctors’ research claiming that repeated hits to the head in football can eventually lead to a neurological degenerative disease called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other problems. He does believe them.

But even if he knew all that long ago, he would have still suited up.

“If I was in my second year in the NFL and all these studies came out and said you’re at higher risk for CTE or ALS or Alzheimer’s by playing football, I would have just filed that away and kept playing,” Birk said. “We’re all called to do something in our lives. You’ve got to live your life.”

Birk is no brute, and he’s not ignoring the issue.

In 2009, the Harvard graduate pledged to donate his brain and spinal cord tissues after his [add] death to the Boston University medical school program that studies sports brain injuries. It’s the same program featured in the PBS documentary.

But Birk isn’t scared of what medical problems may lie ahead.

“Maybe it’s because I don’t have a choice, but I can tell you right now that whatever hand I’m dealt later on, I’m good with that,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it.

“To be able to make a living for 15 years playing professional football … the feelings you experience doing that, you can’t get that at other jobs. It’s more than just a job. In a lot of ways it was life.”

The documentary aims to leave the viewer questioning whether they should play football or allow their children to do the same. It questions the future of the game.

A devoted family man with three sons (and three daughters), Birk said he would let his kids play. At least once they’re in high school and have given their brains more time to develop.

“I’ll definitely let them play because it is one helluva game,” he said. “It’s a great game that teaches a lot of young people great things.”

Birk is also now in charge of enforcing the NFL’s player safety rules.

This summer, he accepted a position to replace Art Shell as one of the league’s two appeals officers. He joined former player and longtime coach Ted Cottrell in the role.

Birk got an early test on the job oddly enough from the player that replaced him, Ravens center Gino Gradkowski. Gradkowski appealed what was reportedly a $7,800 fine for unnecessary roughness in the Week 1 game in Denver. The result is not made public.

Birk laughed when asked if he gives Ravens players preferential treatment and said, “absolutely not.”

“I feel like it’s an important job,” Birk said. “You’re involved with the rules of the game and interpreting the rules. I thought it would be a way for me to make a positive contribution to the game and the league that I love. I’m honored to do it and I’m really enjoying it.”

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