Friday, May 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "matt birk"

matt birk

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Lindsey Young and her father.

I have heard countless sports journalists say that you simply cannot be a fan of a team that you cover. Vikings Territory‘s own Lindsey Young is well on her way to being an exception to that rule.

Lindsey is also incredibly humble, vocally refusing to use VT to promote her other works, so I decided to hijack this week’s “Fan Spotlight” (which she normally authors) and make it all about her.

Literally since before she can remember, Lindsey has been a fan of Minnesota sports of all varieties, and the evidence is on tape.

“There is a home video my parents have where I’m in the living room playing, and you can hear my dad watching TV in the other room,” she tells me of those early days of watching the Twins with her dad.

“Kirby Puckett is on!” he could be heard yelling from the other room. Little Lindsey hops right up, in this video, and books it for the room with the television in it to watch Puckett at bat. Even at that young age, she was interested in sports and knew which players were a cut above the rest.

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This week’s Vikings Fan Spotlight is the final segment of a 3-week project. I had such an amazing response on Twitter from Vikings fans all over the world, and I decided to break this feature into three separate parts. 

Simon Bruus – Denmark – @Bruusen

SimonQ: How did you first become a Vikings fan?
A: My grandfather’s great grandfather is from Minneapolis, and my grandfather […] calls himself “The biggest Vikings fan in Europe.” He religiously follows the Vikings every Sunday when they’re on, and he also religiously watch[es] the University of Minnesota’s football team, the Golden Gophers. Sometimes when I was younger, [I would] stay at my grandparents’ just to watch the Vikings with him, therefore the transition to becoming a Vikings fan was very easy.

Q: Are there a lot of other Vikings fans in Denmark?
A: In Norway [where I am studying abroad], there are almost none as I know of, but in Denmark there is a huge Vikings community. Denmark in general is a very “NFL-happy” nation and as far as I know one of the biggest followers of the sport outside the U.S.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

As far as football experience goes, Birk certainly has an impressive resume.

A Midwestern kid from St. Paul, MN, Birk played high school football for Cretin-Derham Hall. He then went on to become an NFL draft pick, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, a Super Bowl champion, and currently works as the NFL Director of Football Development in New York City.

And it all started with the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite having an excellent college career at Harvard University and earning several first-team honors, the center never fully expected to be drafted in 1998. He instead mentally prepared to be a free agent, to simply find an invite to a team’s camp. However, Birk took an opportunity over spring break to work out with the Vikings; the rest, as they say, is history.

“You think, ‘there are 32 teams—what are the chances I’m going to play for my hometown team?’ […] The phone rang, and it was [then-head coach] Denny Green—he said they were going to draft me with the next pick. My name came up on the TV, and it was a tremendously special moment.”

Birk played two seasons as a backup for the Vikings before taking over the starting center position in 2000. In that first year, he started all 16 games and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Birk continues to call 2000 his most memorable season, as the team rebounded from losing some significant players and impressively finished 11-5.

With the exception of missing a season due to injury, Birk cemented himself as an integral part of the Vikings roster for a decade. In addition to Pro Bowl honors, the center was named All-Pro twice and Minnesota Vikings Man of the Year six years in a row.

Despite going on to finish his career with four seasons—and a Super Bowl victory—with the Baltimore Ravens, Birk remains tied to Minnesota. A part of Birk’s spirit will undoubtedly always wear the purple and gold, and he felt incredibly optimistic about the Vikings’ year, calling the 2014 season’s end “tremendous.”

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Here is an interesting topic for us during this Super Bowl Week that doesn’t involve Ray Lewis, murder, deer antler spray, brother-on-brother action, Joe Flacco’s political incorrectness, or a diva tight end’s complaints about how he is being used.

Instead, I want to know who you are cheering for in the upcoming contest and which former Vikings you would most like to see get a Super Bowl ring.

Randy Moss hasn’t exactly been a juggernaut reminiscent on the 1998 version of himself, but if you are like the then you still have a soft spot in your heart for the seldom used 49er receiver that once made Minnesota the most exciting football team to watch.

Playing for the Ravens, though, are two guys that were once considered to be mainstays along the offensive line in Minnesota.  Matt Birk and Bryant McKinnie are both playing for Baltimore on Sunday.  They left two very different legacies behind in Minnesota, and McKinnie may actually be cheered against by some Vikings fans, but it is hard to imagine a more deserving-of-a-ring player than Matt Birk.

So, what do you have to say?

[Note From Adam:  Darren Campbell of Kick Ass Blog (formerly of Grant’s Tomb) is at it again.  Darren has been kind enough to do yet another guest post here at VT and this one is certainly worth the cost of admission (which is nothing, but still…).  Make sure to give it a read and head on over to his site (by clicking here) and let him know what you thought!]

Am I obsessed with whom the Vikings will pick Thursday night with the #3 overall draft pick? Not at all. But I have devoted a few posts to the subject this winter and spring. It is an important pick. And if Vikings general manager Rick Spielman gets it right, Minnesota will get an impact player for the next decade.

He could get it wrong, too. It happens every year with teams picking high in the draft. They miss on guys. That’s why every draft pick is important and the Vikings (so far) have 10 of them. If (heavy emphasis on “if”) the team uses those picks well in this week’s college draft, the Vikings rebuilding effort will be helped enormously.

A week ago, Viking Update had two columns listing the team’s top five best and worst #1 draft picks in the past 25 years. I wanted to take that idea in another direction. Who have been the best late-round draft picks the Vikings have made during their 52 years in the league?

What follows is that list.  For the readers who are wondering what a “late round draft pick” means to me, I decided all fifth-round and beyond to be the late rounds. Not everyone will agree with that decision. We are dealing with two different types of drafts in this list. From 1961-1992 the college draft was 12 rounds. But starting in 1993, it became a seven-round draft. Perhaps the fifth round isn’t quite late enough for some people when the draft is 12 rounds. But you’ve got to start somewhere. So I started at the fifth round.

Anyway, let’s do this.

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