Some players retire from the NFL and take retirement literally by kicking back and… Retiring. Some players, like Vikings legend Matt Birk, take their NFL retirement as just a change in employment. Birk, always the hustler, has teamed up with React LLC.
React owns the app Super Squares® which is a FREE live score matching “Predicter Squares” game show, combining a TV quiz show and sports prediction, with the football squares game played by millions at office pools and parties.
Here’s the announcement that Birk joined React.
We wanted to “sit down” with Birk to get his take on the current team, the offensive line, and MUCH more!
So, let’s get right into it!
We obviously wanted to start by seeing how you’re doing, and what people may not know you’ve been working on since you retired (from football)?
You mean other than being husband of the year and raising 8 kids in this crazy world? Well, I helped launch an app called Super Squares which I’m excited about. It’s a game based on the old football squares game that you play at Super Bowl parties combined with game predictions. It’s fun, free, and fans can win big prizes. I think fans aren’t treated with the respect they deserve, and that’s why we reward them for watching football.
I asked your former line-mate Bryant McKinnie on my podcast whether or not it was frustrating to play under the ownership of Red McCombs. He said that it was, as the offense was elite while the defense … Wasn’t (partially due to a perceived lack of investment). Is that how you remember those days?
My first 8 years in the League were under McCombs ownership, so I don’t think I knew how bad it was compared to other teams. I mean, I knew he was pinching pennies, but part of me was just happy to have a job and be playing in the NFL for my hometown team. I am proud of how much we did win without strong support from ownership. I think we kind of rallied around that.
Awhile back during media week build-up to SB XLVII you said that you and Randy Moss didn’t see “eye to eye” due to a “couple of incidents”. But otherwise Moss was a great teammate and someone you said was worthy of the HoF. Would you give us a peak into that era by describing one of those incidents or what sort of incidents they were?
Well, the most notable one is when he walked off the field with a few seconds left in the Washington game at the end of 2004 (I think that was the year). It was a tough year for all of us. I didn’t think he, as a leader, should have done it. I raced to the Lockeroom and let’s just say we had some heated words.
But I loved Randy as a teammate. He was a lot of fun in the Lockeroom and didn’t carry himself like he was better than anybody else. I think why I got so mad in Washington was because he was feeding the stereotype that he was a Primadonna and I knew the press was going to have a field day at his expense. He was better than that.
How much do you follow the current Vikings?
I follow them pretty closely. I’ve been a Vikings fan my whole life, with the exception of my 4 years with the Ravens. And I do some media work so I watch all of the games. I used to pretend I was Tommy Kramer in the backyard so I think being a Vikings fan is just part of who I am.
There’s been a lot of talk about the O-line during Zimmer’s time as head coach. As a guy who transitioned positions after joining the NFL, how difficult is that and why do some guys struggle?
I don’t think it’s that difficult to transition positions on the O line once you get to the NFL. Nobody comes into the League with very good technique, so you basically learn how to play football from scratch. Whether you have to learn guard or tackle, there really isn’t much difference.
Center maybe a little bit more adjustment, but you practice so much in the offseason and training camp that you get adequate work.
The biggest adjustment is mental- the NFL game is so much more complex than college. You don’t just ‘block the guy in front of you’ 99% of the time. If you are going to last in the NFL you have to know the game and understand the offense.
Coach Tice (who cohosts the Vikingsterritory Breakdown wednesdays @ 7pm on KDLM radio) has talked a lot about the zone blocking scheme and “athleticism” vs. good old fashioned blocking and it’s ability to create a clean pocket…
It sounds funny to say, but the lineman do a lot of running in the zone blocking scheme. We ran it my last 2 years in Baltimore and you can get pretty winded. So, that lends itself to smaller lineman.
In drop back pass protection, the centers and guards are responsible for the depth of the pocket, the tackles for the width.
In pass protection you are ‘giving ground grudgingly’ to DTs that weigh 320, 3300lbs. Even if you’re 5 or 10lbs lighter than the average, that can make a difference. In the zone scheme you need guys that are athletic but also have that anchor to stand up to the bull rush.
Having won a Super Bowl, in retrospect… What (if anything) feels different between the team that makes it all the way and the one that falls JUST short.
The best team doesn’t always win the Super Bowl, the hottest team does. Most years you don’t win it, and until you do, you don’t really know what it’s suppose to feel like. I think that feeling builds as you win and advance in the playoffs.
In Baltimore, we were very tough minded. We weren’t scared of New England (Brady) or Denver (Manning). Our defense had been playing against those guys forever, so that helped. And our QB Joe Flacco got as hot as he had ever been in his life, and there you go.
I’ve heard recently that Cris Carter and Randy Moss didn’t get along. Fan perception is that Carter mentored Moss, is that exaggerated?
I really don’t know the Ins and Outs of Cris and Randy’s relationship. If there was a rub it wasn’t evident to me. I know both of them are alpha males, so there is always the potential for some friction. I would bet looking back both of them feel fortunate to have been paired up for the 4 years they were together
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Birk and download Super Squares today to not miss out on the divisional round prizes!