2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Ravens' Birk, Reed finally reach the Super Bowl

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-22 15:54

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - 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 San Francisco 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. ``To be able to be involved with that as a leader is a huge thing. It makes you feel really good, and now you try to make the most of it.''

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.''

Maybe Birk deserved it, after everything he went through over his first 14 years. But Birk exudes no such feeling of entitlement.

``Nobody deserves it more than anybody else. It doesn't matter how long you play,'' he said. ``To be doing it with this team and just, I think, the closeness of this team and kind of the journey that we have been through my four years here - every year getting close and getting close - to finally break through, it's pretty special.''

Reed, 34, has earned nine Pro Bowl invitations in 11 years with Baltimore and has long been recognized as one of the finest free safeties in the game. But he never got into the Super Bowl until now, and to make it even sweeter, his first appearance will be in his home state of Louisiana.

``It's been a long time coming, but it takes time,'' Reed said. ``We've built up to this point.''

Teammate Jacoby Jones, who grew up in New Orleans, will be making his Super Bowl debut in his sixth season. After the Ravens beat New England 28-13 in the AFC championship game, Reed prepared for a trip to familiar territory with Jones in tow.

``I really don't have any words for it,'' Reed said. ``I rushed into the locker room to call my mom, because I know that my family has been going through some things, so I'm just thankful to be going home and for the whole of New Orleans to see some hometown guys. Jacoby, we talked about it. We haven't been there since (Hurricane) Katrina. We're just grateful.''

The Ravens failed to win the AFC title game in 2008 and 2012 under Harbaugh before finally breaking through.

``For everything we've been through since coach Harbaugh got here, he had a vision of working us a certain way and taking us through something to build something and to create this moment,'' Reed said. ``We believed it, but it was just something we had to go through as men and understand each other and understand the process together.''

Williams, a backup on the line, played for Philadelphia and Cincinnati before getting into the Super Bowl in his 13th NFL season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs (10th season) and former Houston Texans stars Vonta Leach (ninth) and Bernard Pollard (seventh) signed as free agents with Baltimore for the chance to perform on the sport's grandest stage.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, who needed only five years to get it done, takes delight in seeing some of his older teammates finally heading to the Super Bowl.

``No doubt about it, I am excited for everybody that has been in the league as long as those guys have been,'' he said. ``To have this opportunity is pretty cool.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Arian FosterAug 4 02:53p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) will undergo surgery on his injured groin. He should return during the season, however.

Arian FosterAug 4 02:23p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) may need surgery on his injured groin.

Arian FosterAug 4 01:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) suffered a groin injury during the team's first fully padded practice Monday, Aug. 3, according to sources.

Terrance WestAug 4 10:52a

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West appears to be on thin ice because of maturity issues, and his conditioning is a question, according to ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi.

Doug MartinAug 3 09:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin was confirmed as the team's lead back Monday, Aug. 3, by head coach Lovie Smith. 'We talked about being able to establish the [ More ]

L. WashingtonAug 3 07:22p

Free-agent WR L'Damian Washington signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Aug. 3.

Senquez GolsonAug 3 07:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Senquez Golson (shoulder) told ESPN Monday, Aug. 3, he might need surgery on an injured shoulder, and he will find out in the next few days. [ More ]

Ace SandersAug 3 07:02p

Free-agent WR Ace Sanders (Jaguars) was suspended 10 games by the NFL Monday, Aug. 3, for a second violation of the league's drug policy.

Stephen HillAug 3 05:52p

Free-agent WR Stephen Hill (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Monday, Aug. 3, after being waived/injured Sunday, Aug. 2.

Michael EgnewAug 3 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Michael Egnew was released Monday, Aug. 3.

Kevin ConeAug 3 05:42p

Cleveland Browns WR Kevin Cone was waived Monday, Aug. 3.

Timothy FlandersAug 3 05:22p

Free-agent RB Timothy Flanders (Saints) signed with the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Jalen ParmeleAug 3 04:52p

Free-agent RB Jalen Parmele (Cardinals) was signed by the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Kyle WilliamsAug 3 04:42p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 3. WR Corbin Louks was subsequently signed.

Matt ElamAug 3 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (biceps) will have surgery on his torn biceps soon and will officially be out for the season.

Michael JohnsonAug 3 02:32p

Updating a previous report, Cincinnati Bengals DE Michael Johnson (knee) will be out four weeks with a grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain.

Matt ElamAug 3 11:12a

Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (arm) will likely miss the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps muscle suffered during a full-contact practice Sunday, Aug. 2.

Stephen HillAug 2 08:02p

The Carolina Panthers waived WR Stephen Hill (knee) after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament Sunday, Aug. 2.

Terrelle PryorAug 2 07:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Terrelle Pryor took reps with the first-team offense during training camp Sunday, Aug. 2.

Martavis BryantAug 2 04:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (elbow) will undergo a procedure for an elbow infection that will cause him to miss the Hall of Fame Game Sunday, Aug. 9, against [ More ]

Michael EgnewAug 2 03:02p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released TE Michael Egnew.

Tony McDanielAug 2 12:12p

The Seattle Seahawks released DT Tony McDaniel Sunday, Aug. 2. McDaniel should quickly find a new home.

Stephen HillAug 2 12:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Stephen Hill (knee) has an ACL injury, according to assistant head coach Steve Wilks Sunday, Aug. 2.

Sam BradfordAug 2 11:52a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) has been cleared for 11-on-11 drills Sunday, Aug. 2, and head coach Chip Kelly told reporters the quarterback doesn't have any restrictions.

Stephen HillAug 2 10:12a

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent WR Paul Browning Sunday, Aug. 2. Browning is expected to take WR Stephen Hill's roster spot.

Brandon BoykinAug 1 08:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Aug. 1, in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles could [ More ]

Kyle WilliamsAug 1 02:22p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') suffered at least a partially torn Achilles' tendon in practice Saturday, Aug. 1, according to a source. He may be out for the season.

Melvin GordonAug 1 02:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has struggled with pass protection through the first three days of training camp.

Devin SmithJul 31 09:32p

New York Jets WR Devin Smith (ribs) will miss a majority of training camp after suffering broken ribs Friday, July 31, according to the team. He will be held [ More ]

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:42p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland (knee) is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks because of a knee injury he suffered during practice Friday, July 31.

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:22p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland has been suspended one game by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Breeland received a citation for marijuana possession last year.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 31 06:22p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) is not allowed to use his injured hand while it is healing from the fireworks accident he had earlier this month. Pierre-Paul [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group