Baltimore Ravens starting center Matt Birk has retired leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their offensive line. Birk, who exits the league with 112 consecutive starts, was a six-time Pro-Bowler and one of the league’s best interior lineman since graduating from Harvard. With his retirement, the clock starts toward his chance to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
He was also attacked as a homophobe for his defense traditional marriage.
In October, citing the NFL’s free speech policy, Birk penned an op-ed lamenting the collapse of marriage in which he states that marriage should remain between a man and a woman.
“The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as ‘marriage’ for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people,” Birk argues. “With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids.”
Although he condemned the movement towards same-sex marriages, Birk primarily focused on the cultural ills.
“Marriage is in trouble right now -- admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions,” Birk declared. “In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced ‘I am my brother's keeper’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ with ‘live and let live’ and ‘if it feels good, go ahead and do it.’”
“The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution,” Birk continued. “How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?”
Birk, a reigning Super Bowl champion and 2011 Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award winner, announced his retirement in front of a group of fifth grade students at Battle Grove Elementary School.