Saturday, November 28, 2015

matt birk

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(photo courtesy of

In the spirit of the holiday, we decided to have a little more fun with this week’s question. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section as well. All of us at Vikings Territory are wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!

Name one Viking (past or present) most likely to ruin your Thanksgiving dinner.

Austin: “The Williams Wall”
Together, Pat and Kevin created havoc for the Vikings defense, with their best seasons together coming between 2006-2008. Their large presence inside helped the Vikings field the league’s best run defense for three years straight, and I’m sure they’d put a stop to leftovers at Thanksgiving as well. While both always seemed like great teammates, I think they’d make terrible dinner-mates, if only because there would be little in the way of leftovers. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, and Pat and Kevin would easily put a stop to that by eating most of the food on Thanksgiving night. No turkey soup and no turkey sandwiches the day after would ruin Thanksgiving for me.

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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

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?

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