Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 22, 2000

New Viking Matt Birk visits Winsted

By Ryan Gueningsman

New Minnesota Vikings starting center Matt Birk was the guest of honor at Holy Trinity High School's athletic banquet May 17.

At the banquet, Birk spoke about his life in general, including football stories and life at Harvard University.

When Birk graduated from Cretin-Derham High School, he thought his football career was over. Little did he know that it was, actually, just beginning.

Several scouts from major universities had checked Birk out, including Harvard. He figured that he wouldn't make it to Harvard on his own, so Birk accepted on a football scholarship. He led the team to an Ivy League Crown during his Harvard years.

When Birk graduated and his college career ended, he was looking forward to hitting "the real world." His college coaches told him that a few NFL teams were interested in him, so he made himself eligible for the draft, and was chosen in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998.

The first Harvard graduate to play in the NFL since 1986, Birk played on special teams, and filled in if someone was injured for the next two years.

This year, Birk has been given the opportunity to step up and fill the shoes of departing All-Pro center Jeff Christy. Birk is anxious to be playing full-time for the team he grew up watching on TV.

Birk is only one of two players on the Vikings roster that are native Minnesotans, the other being Corbin Lacina.

"I've been good friends with Corbin. We've worked out together and been buddies since we were kids," Birk said.

As he gets ready to step up to the line, Vikings fans will be sure to notice the talent that Birk has to offer.

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