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Super Bowl Trip Special To More Veterans Than Ray Lewis

Posted Jan 22, 2013

Veterans Ed Reed, Matt Birk and Terrell Suggs are going to their first Super Bowl.

Matt Birk’s 36-year-old face was swollen and cut on Monday.

He showed the visible remains of war with New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

The scar I actually got playing Scrabble. One of the pieces got out of hand,” Birk said, cracking up the media. “Do we really want to talk about this face?”

That face has been through its fair share of battles over the years. Birk has played in the NFL for 15 years. He had never gone to the Super Bowl.

So the veteran center was willing to do just about anything – including getting obviously mauled in the trenches – to reach New Orleans.

Linebacker Ray Lewis is getting the lion’s share of attention for his “last ride” back to the Super Bowl. But there are a handful of Ravens veterans like Birk who are also looking for an elusive ring.

“That’s your dream; that’s why you play,” Birk said.

The center considered retirement each of the past two offseasons, but he came back both times for another chance at the Lombardi Trophy. Birk said that was a “big” source of his motivation.

“At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you,” Birk said. “I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t think there was a legitimate chance that I could help the team.”

Safety Ed Reed, 34, had been to the playoffs six times without reaching the big game, including losing two AFC championship games. Reed was drafted in 2002 and became a future Hall of Famer over the course of his 11 seasons.

“It’s just awesome right now. A great feeling,” Reed said. “I have no words, man.”

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, 32, played in Super Bowl XLIII with the Arizona Cardinals on Feb. 1, 2009. The Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23, on a touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. Boldin posted eight catches for 84 yards.

“You look at guys who go their whole career and never make it to the Super Bowl,” Boldin said. “For me, I’ve got another shot. And I’m looking to finish it off this time.”

There are other veterans who are also making their first Super Bowl trip, including guard Bobbie Williams (13 seasons), tackle Bryant McKinnie (11 seasons), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (10 seasons) and defensive tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu (10 seasons).

“Me and Ed Reed kept saying we want to get to a championship like we did in college,” McKinnie said. “I mean this is my eleventh year and my first Super Bowl, so it means a lot.”

But Birk downplayed the importance of winning for the “old guys.”

“Nobody deserves it more than anybody else. It doesn’t matter how long you play,” he said.

“We wanted to be here before [Lewis] said he was going to retire. We all want to win the Super Bowl,” second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith added.

“Ray has won and we know this is his last shot at it. We have Ed Reed who has never been to a Super Bowl. Terrell Suggs. Anquan Boldin has never won one, but he’s been there. These are all guys as well that we play for each and every day.”

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