Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk has been one of the most successful center’s of his generation, both on and off the field.
Birk, 35, has been named a Pro Bowler six times in his career and he’s also been a part of eight playoff teams.
But the achievement that exemplifies Birk as a person was given to him on Saturday night — The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. It’s an award that recognizes a player’s work on and off the football field.
Birk has been the definition of reliability among NFL linemen, starting and playing in 96 consecutive games. His streak is the NFL’s second-longest active among centers.
However, it doesn’t measure to the impact he’s made in the community during his 14-year career.
A father of six with a passion for stressing the importance of education, Birk has dedicated a great deal of his time and energy on promoting literacy among the youth around him. The Harvard graduate’s “Ready, Set, Read!” program, an initiative of his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education), reaches nearly 100,000 kids in the Baltimore area and drives students to read at home through an incentive-based system.
Birk will be honored on the field Sunday night, prior to kickoff between the New England Patriots and New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
“I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Birk said, via CSNBaltimore.com. “This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live.”