Page last updated on Tue Aug 30 03:23:21 EDT 2016
Fri, 25 Jan 2013 01:30 AM EST

The only reason why Matt Birk brought his aching knees and battered body to training camp for a 15th NFL season was to get to the Super Bowl.

The 36-year-old Birk was bothered by neck, elbow and knee injuries during his previous 3 years with the Ravens, yet he never missed a good starting point. During the offseason, the 6-time Pro Bowl center went through surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs.

Still, Birk knew the Baltimore Ravens had a shot at a championship, and he needed to play a part of it.

”At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you,” Birk recounted. ”I would not have come back if I didn’t think there had been a legitimate chance that I could help the team.”

Birk, safety Ed Reed and guard Bobbie Williams head a list of longtime veterans who will be making their first Super Bowl appearance when the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on February 3.

”It means a lot for all the fellows to have an opportunity to take part in that,” Coach John Harbaugh related, ”to be in a position to be involved with that as a leader is a big thing. It makes you feel good, and now you try to make the most from it.”

Birk endured 11 fruitless years in Minnesota, reaching the playoffs 5 times without a meeting title. Then, after joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2009, he was a part of 3 more playoff runs that ended short of the Super Bowl.  Now, Birk is poised to join the NFL’s biggest game.

”It’s great, obviously,” he revealed. ”That’s the goal. That’s your dream. That’s why you play.”

Maybe Birk deserved it, after everything he went through over his first 14 years. But Birk exudes no such feeling of entitlement.

”Nobody deserves it more than anybody else. It doesn’t matter how long you play,” he said. ”To be doing it with this team and just, I think, the closeness of this team and kind of the journey that we have been thru my 4 years here – every year getting close and getting close – to finally break thru, it’s pretty special.”

Reed, 34, has earned 9 Pro Bowl invitations in 11 years with Baltimore and has for some time been recognized as one of the best free safeties in the game. But he never got into the Super Bowl till now, and to make it even sweeter, his first appearance will be in his home state of Louisiana. Scores

”It’s been a long time coming, nevertheless it takes time,” Reed expounded. ”We’ve built up to this point.”

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t win the AFC title game in 2008 and 2012 under Harbaugh before finally breaking thru.

”For everything we’ve been through since coach Harbaugh got here, he had a dream of working us a certain way and taking us thru something to build something and to make this moment,” Reed announced. ”We believed it, but it was just something we had to go through as men and understand one another and understand the process together.”

Sponsored Links

Download Printable Schedules
Now you can download and print schedules for each sport so you can plan ahead and track your results.
FOOTBALL: 8/7/2016 - 10/31/2016
BASEBALL 8/10/2016 - 10/2/2016
RK Team
New York Mets
Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays
Kansas City Royals
Detroit Tigers
MLBWashington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies4:05 PM PST
MLBToronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles4:05 PM PST
MLBSan Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves4:10 PM PST
MLBMiami Marlins vs. New York Mets4:10 PM PST
MLBMinnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians4:10 PM PST
MLBChicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers4:10 PM PST
MLBTampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox4:10 PM PST
MLBPittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs5:05 PM PST
MLBSeattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers5:05 PM PST
MLBSt. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers5:10 PM PST
MLBOakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros5:10 PM PST
MLBNew York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals5:15 PM PST
MLBLos Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies5:40 PM PST
MLBCincinnati Reds vs. Los Angeles Angels7:05 PM PST
MLBArizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants7:15 PM PST
College FootballIndiana vs Florida International4:30 PM PST
College FootballSouth Carolina vs Vanderbilt5:00 PM PST
College FootballOregon State vs Minnesota6:00 PM PST
College FootballColorado State vs Colorado5:00 PM PST
College FootballKansas State vs Stanford6:00 PM PST
College FootballToledo vs Arkansas State6:00 PM PST
College FootballGeorgia Tech vs Boston College04:30 AM PST
College FootballWestern Michigan vs Northwestern09:00 AM PST
College FootballMissouri vs West Virginia09:00 AM PST
College FootballOklahoma vs Houston09:00 AM PST
College FootballUCLA vs Texas A&M12:30 PM PST
College FootballLSU vs Wisconsin12:30 PM PST
College FootballNorth Carolina vs Georgia2:30 PM PST
College FootballSouthern Miss vs Kentucky4:30 PM PST
College FootballUSC vs Alabama5:00 PM PST
College FootballClemson vs Auburn6:00 PM PST
College FootballBYU vs Arizona7:30 PM PST