The only reason why Matt Birk brought his aching knees and battered body to training camp for a 15th NFL season was to get to the Super Bowl.
The 36-year-old Birk was bothered by neck, elbow and knee injuries during his previous three years with the Baltimore Ravens, yet he never missed a start. During the offseason, the six-time Pro Bowl center underwent surgery to repair varicose veins in his legs.
Still, Birk knew the Ravens had a shot at a championship, and he wanted to be a part of it.
"At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you," Birk said. "I wouldn't have come back if I didn't think there was a legitimate chance that I could help the team."
Birk, safety Ed Reed and guard Bobbie Williams head a list of longtime veterans who will be making their first Super Bowl appearance when the Ravens face the 49ers on Feb. 3.
"It means a lot for all the guys to have an opportunity to be a part of that," coach John Harbaugh said.
Birk endured 11 fruitless years in Minnesota, reaching the playoffs five times without a conference title. Then, after joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2009, he was part of three more playoff runs that ended short of the Super Bowl.
Now, Birk is poised to be part of the NFL's biggest game.
"It's great, obviously," he said. "That's the goal. That's your dream. That's why you play."
Birk could find reward for battered body
Packer Report Top Stories
Scout-Team QB Gets Defense Ready to RiseThe Packers will face many of the top quarterbacks in the league this season. It's a good thing they've faced one at practice throughout training camp.
Packer ReportYesterday at 8:14 PM
Report: No New Evidence in PED Investigation"It's what we expected," a source told Packer Report.
Packer ReportYesterday at 1:48 PM
Podcast: PEDs, UDFAs and Dark DL HistoryClay Matthews and Julius Peppers talked to the NFL on Wednesday. Hopefully they learned from Tom Brady. Plus, the ugly defensive line history under Ted Thompson. And while Thompson…
Packer ReportYesterday at 6:39 AM
Why Is Lowry Playing In Front of Clark?In the base defense, fourth-round pick Dean Lowry has been with the No. 1 unit. Kenny Clark, the first-round pick, has not.
Packer ReportWednesday at 7:40 PM
Undrafted Corners Making Play for Roster SpotMakinton Dorleant and Josh Hawkins have made plays on defense and are making a move on special teams.
Packer ReportWednesday at 1:41 PM