QUOTES FROM BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA DAY
CENTER MATT BIRK
(on getting involved with the new device a sensor by MC10 and Reebok for tracking the impact of hits) "I guess football has done so much for me in my life and I think it's a great game. Not just aside from playing professional football, but I think it's a great game to teach a lot of lessons and a lot of things about life that are very valuable. I think especially as NFL players, we should try to help the game in making it as safe as possible. That's certainly a hot topic these days, and in our game that filters down to the kids' level, and as a father and as someone who's concerned about kids and their safety and just doing everything we can to make the game safe and make it positive."
(on the device a sensor by MC10 and Reebok helping the college and high school level) "The device were talking about is the sensor from MC10 and Reebok. It gives you instant feedback on the impact of hits during a game and it talks about head injuries and concussions it's not like a broken bone or something that's very evident to the eye or to a medical doctor so this device gives you instant feedback as far as the impact and how great it was, in order to measure that so coaches and parents and medical staff aren't waiting until after to get that data. Right away they know there's an impact and a reason to be alarmed and get the kid out and taken through the battery of testing."
(on how the concussion message has changed the NFL) "The culture has definitely changed. Way back when you didn't really talk about it and it wasn't really considered, in a lot of ways, a real injury by players because that was just the talk in the locker room. You just played through it, you did everything you could to play through it. Nowadays with all of the things we're finding out with the long term effects, attitudes have changed among players, and, if a guy has a concussion, it's definitely accepted in the locker room because it's so important as a player and on a team to have the respect of your teammates. Now a days with all of the unfortunate data and cases that come across now, its okay to say ‘Yeah I have a concussion I can't go back out.'"
(on donating his brain for research) "It's my obligation as a professional football player to try to do my part to make the game as safe as possible for future generations. I don't really look at donating my brain as that big of a deal, it's kind of like donating an organ. I think it's something that I should do."
(on motivating his teammates to also donate their brains for research to the Boston University project) "I've talked to them about it and just try to explain it. It's kind of a morbid thing when you think about it and it kind catches you, but really if you think about it, it's not that big of a deal. You don't need it once you're dead and I think it's important for the cause and for them to compile as much data so they can learn as much as they can about head traumas and the effect it has. CTE and all these things that weren't on anybody's radar five years ago."
(on what his hope is in donating his brain and his involvement in this cause) "Just to make the game safer. I think this is great that we're having this discussion now. Five years ago we weren't talking about this and it's so important for our game at the professional level and the future of it, but especially and more importantly, for the hundreds and thousands of kids that play football. It's a great game. The best thing about football is the things that it teaches you about life and being a part of a team, something greater than yourself, values, teamwork, hard work, overcoming adversity, all of those things, and to show all these kids who play that they're as safe as possible and can have a positive experience."
(On if he will let his kids play football) "I'll let them play when I think the time is right. My personal belief is that tackle football isn't really a grade school game, talking about grade school kids, for a couple of reasons. One, it's kind of a complicated game. I don't know what the age is, but when kids are really little and when you watch a little kids game half the time they fumble the snap and they're just kind of running around out there doing whatever. Also, I think kids mature physically at different points and rates, and sometimes those differences and gaps can be pretty large. You're talking about little kids and that's when it does get dangerous. There's a physical aspect of football. There always has been and there always will be. Growing up as a chubby kid, big boned and husky, I didn't play football as a little kid. I tried it once and they put me as a lineman, and no kid wants to be a lineman. Every kid wants to throw the ball and catch the ball. That's where I think flag football is a great game for kids. Once they get to high school, I have three sons, and if I feel like they're physically able to go out there and compete and not put themselves in danger, then yeah, absolutely they can play."
(on when he saw the offensive line hit their stride or felt satisfied with their play) "We're never satisfied. We had an injury the last game of the year. Jah Reid went down so we had to shuffle. Two guys had to move their positions. Football is a team game and nobody knows that, realizes that or is more onboard with that than offensive linemen. That's our job. We had to make the changes because of the injury to Jah (Reid). Mike (Oher), Kelechi (Osemele), and Bryant (McKinnie), we all just said, ‘Okay no big deal, we're all just going to go to work and do whatever we can to make this work.' You talk about chemistry with offensive lineman because you work in combination with guys. You'd love to have all five guys out there for 16 games, but rarely does that happen. We had to make the change going into the playoffs and we just played."
(on being able to quickly get over switching two positions to fix one) "I think it's a tribute to those guys that had to move around. They're great players and great students of the game, and they said ‘Okay that's fine, this is what's best for the team so I'm going to work as hard as I can and we're going to make this work.'"
(on looking back at his rookie season and wondering then how long of a career he would have) "My story and where I came from, I was just trying to hold on every year. That's how I've always looked at it. This is a heck of a way to make a living and it's a heck of a lot of fun. It will come to an end, and the majority of your life will be spent not playing football. It's one of those things and it's one of those sports that when you're retired, you can't put on your shoulder pads with your friends and you can't play tackle football. When it's over, it's over. I just try to enjoy it every day and every year."
(on his time with Randy Moss with the Minnesota Vikings) "Being there with Randy and what he did his rookie year, it took the league by storm. He was a huge contributor on that team in 1998, I was not. Being from Minnesota, I was almost more of a fan than a player and just being able to watch that was an amazing experience. The think about Randy (Moss) was that he was always a great competitor and he worked extremely hard. He was a very productive player."
(on if Randy Moss was the funniest guy on the team) "He was a lot of laughs. He was great in the locker room and he didn't act like he was any different than anyone else. It's important for great players to be like that just as far as team chemistry and camaraderie."
(on what football has taught him) "The importance of hard work. Football's a sport, but you don't play a lot of games, you spend most of your time practicing. Preparation and practice isn't the most fun thing to do in the world, but you have to do it, it's essential for success. Being part of a team and getting that feeling and satisfaction of being something that's bigger than yourself. You learn about delayed gratification, especially more and more importantly in this day in age with younger people and technology. To get to the Super Bowl, I wouldn't say we'd just been working on it this year, I'd say it's been years in the making in this organization and for the core guys that have been here. Everybody has their share of failures in football and in life. Football teaches you that you just keep working, work as hard as you can and get as good as you can. That gives you the best chance of success."