According to news reports yesterday, Matt Birk gave up the opportunity of a lifetime. Birk, the center for the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens, declined an invitation to visit the White House with his team. He explained that he didn’t go because of President Barack Obama’s comment at a recent Planned Parenthood conference: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.”
Birk told sports radio station KFAN, “I have great respect for the office of the presidency,” but, “Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I couldn’t endorse that in any way.”
His decision led NBC Sports reporter Mike Florio to call Birk’s decision illogical, saying if he would refuse to visit the president because he supports abortion, then Birk might as well leave the country since America holds abortion as a constitutional right.
Birk is Catholic and known for being pro-life and a proponent of traditional marriage—he didn’t do this for media attention, since he’s been in the spotlight before.
In 2009, he signed a $12 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Birk is a two-time Associated Press All-Pro player, six-time Pro Bowl Performer, and one-time Super Bowl champion. He retired after the Raven’s won the Super Bowl in January.
Birk was also rated the sixth smartest athlete in 2010. That is no surprise considering his close-to-perfect GPA and ACT scores in high school, and his degree in economics from Harvard in 1998. Birk won numerous awards for football in college and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings after graduation. Sports Illustrated described him as “maybe the best Ivy League prospect to come along in several years.” In 2002 he established the HIKE Foundation that helps at-risk kids get the resources they need for a good education. He received the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2011 for starting HIKE.
His wife, Adrianna, volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center and they participated in the Maryland March for Life in 2011, where he spoke in front of hundreds of people. Birk also publicly opposed same-sex marriage last year.
Birk’s stellar career guaranteed that the news media would cover his small act and bring renewed attention to the president’s support of abortion and Planned Parenthood.