Monday, October 5, 2015

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Ex-Vikings center Matt Birk has been named the NFL’s new Director of Player Development, per Ian Rapaport. Matt Birk played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1998 to 2008 as a sixth-round pick from Harvard. He went to high school in Minnesota, at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.

He made six Pro Bowls while with Minnesota (missing out in 2002 and 2005, but making every other one between 2000 and 2007) and two All-Pro teams. He won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2011 with the Ravens and won the Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year award six times (and the Ed Block Courage award in 2007).

Birk founded the HIKE Foundation, which works with at-risk children to provide them with educational opportunities and has worked with 100,000 children in the Baltimore area alone to teach them to read. There’s little question about his character, though he has made political waves with ardently conservative politics. He is a pro-life activist, and penned an Op-Ed in the Star Tribune in favor of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. For these reasons, he refused to visit President Obama with the rest of the Ravens team after winning the Super Bowl.

All that aside, Matt Birk is probably a perfect person for this role. He cares a lot about many of the problems affecting NFL players and has promised to donate his brain to Boston University in order to advance the understanding of CTE and its relationship to football.

From the NFL Communications blog:

In his new role, Birk will assist in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He will also assist in the administration of NFL game day operations.

Birk will guide the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.

“I’m very excited to begin this next chapter of my football career,” says Birk, who becomes the eighth former player to take a job at the NFL office, joining Merton Hanks, Dwight Hollier, Patrick Kerney, James Thrash, David Tyree, Troy Vincent and Charles Way. “It’s a real honor for me to be entrusted with developing the game in so many different ways.”

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Birk will play a leading role in the continuing evolution and emergence of the Career Development Symposium, oversee the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program and NFL-NCAA Future Football Coaches Academy initiative.

“Matt’s experience as a terrific NFL player, a model citizen in his community and a reputation as a forward-thinking leader make him ideally suited for this role,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “There is no doubt he will continue to make a positive impact on our game and be a trusted advocate for those who play and coach at every level.”

Birk, who will also serve as a liaison for the Football Operations department on the international development of the game and assist in further strengthening the NFL High School Player Development program, will be based at NFL headquarters in New York.

Troy Vincent was previously the person in that role, but has been promoted since then.

For the most part, this is the time of year when “no news is good news” and the Vikings are doing a great job of (knock on wood) staying out of the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.  The lack of TMZ stories about our players can’t be a bad thing.  Training camp is drawing nearer and here is everything going on around the net:

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A week and a half ago, I posted a fundraiser for coverage of the Minnesota Vikings training camp, and you all responded magnificently.

As it stands, there are currently 85 people who I’m going to send a training camp guide to, and as of this posting we’ve nearly raised the total original goal. That’s fantastic news; thank you!

That’s going to allow me to continue to cover the camp with the most in-depth and hopefully up-to-date coverage for the Minnesota Vikings, and might be the most thorough coverage of any team at any training camp by any organization. I want to continue that tradition, and you all have helped me do it.

The draft guide is shaping up well, and it looks like it will be longer than I thought; it could get to 100 pages. There’s a lot of content in there that I haven’t put anywhere else, so it should be a really fun read before training camp (and if you’re OK taking a relatively thick magazine, during training camp as well).

Beyond that, we also have raised more than $200.00 for Dakota’s medical care. Pretty phenomenal stuff.


It has been too long. I won’t bore you with reasons for my absence as none of the excuses are legitimate. Instead, I want to jump right back into being a more involved writer here at Vikings Territory. There have been quite a few things happening behind the scenes here at VT. We’ve definitely evolved in the quality and quantity of content. Above and beyond that, a complete redesign of the entire site should be making its way to all of you soon.

Enough of that, though.

We’re going to start a new reoccurring post here at Vikings Territory. It’s a pretty simple concept. Every week or so I will host various people out there on the interwebs and ask them a series of questions for them to respond to. The questions may be regarding a recent Vikings news talker. It might be an off-the-wall question that has nothing to do with the Vikings. Sometimes there may be a theme to the questions. Other times there won’t. Who knows? Quite honestly, it’s going to be whatever I think is fun and interesting that particular week. I do know that I will try and keep the questions light hearted and the responses blunt.

It won’t always be the same people. And it won’t always be writers from here at VT. We will try and mix it up and have an array of different people join in on the fun. And after our guests have provided their responses, I will end each question with a response of my own. There are two rules to make things more interesting:

  1. Responses must be less than 140 words. If the responder goes slightly over this boundary, they aren’t disqualified or anything. This isn’t a contest. Really, the restriction is to simplify things a little big and get a straight-forward answer.
  2. There are “Unacceptable Answers.” I will decide what these are on a case-by-case basis. Typically, I will try and think of answers that I deem unworthy. (Primarily because they don’t really answer the question.)

With that being said, let’s get to it. As it is the first installment of this post, I wanted to keep things in house. This week our guests are everyone’s favorite Vikings blogger Adam Warwas and our beloved Vikings super brain, Arif Hasan.

Despite being stuck in the dumpster fire that was the 2013 Cleveland Browns, wide receiver Josh Gordon was easily one of my top five favorite players to watch last season.  With Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, it didn’t matter who was the latest starting quarterback in Cleveland, Gordon was going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch each Sunday.

Gordon has always had struggles when it came to staying clean.  The result was getting kicked off a team, sitting out a year, and having to enter the NFL via the supplemental Draft.  The Browns took a gamble, giving up a second rounder to get him, but it looked like a gamble that would pay off if he could stay clean.

Apparently that “if” was just too big.

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