BALTIMORE (CBS) – After an 11-year career in the NFL, Harvard alumni Matt Birk decided to go out on top.

Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl center who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens last month, announced his retirement on Friday.

During his time with the Crimson Birk was named to the All-Ivy League first-team, and was the first Harvard lineman to be drafted since 1985 when the Minnesota Vikings took him in the sixth round in 1998.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Drew Moholland caught up with Birk’s High School coach Mal Scanlan on Friday, who has been a football coach in the Twin Cities high school and college level for decades. He had nothing but praise for his former player — both on and off the field.

“What a wonderful career he had for a guy that didn’t play football until he was a sophomore in high school,” Scanlan said of Birk. “The championship is the frosting on the cake for him, and we’re very proud of him.”

Mal Scanlan Talks Matt Birk: 

Scanlan said Birk was a very good basketball player and golfer before they convinced him to give football a try.

“All of his friends were playing football, so we said why not come try it? If nothing else, be with your buddies for two hours a day. He just kept getting better and dedicated himself,” said Scanlan. “He just kept working and making his talent more obvious.”

While Scanlan played a major role in Birk playing football, he said all the credit goes to the athlete.

“It’s fun to be a part of and fun to watch him,” he said. “He’s approachable, and he’s a unique person for a professional athlete.”

Now that Birk is retired, an announcement he told Scanlan was tough to make, he does have a job waiting for him — though Scanlan won’t make it easy.

“I told him he can come back and coach with us. I told him we might have an assistant-assistant offensive line coach job on the freshman team,” Scanlon joked.

“He said ‘I’m coming back as the head coach,'” continued Scanlan. “He said ‘I’m taking your job, you can be the assistant-assistant freshman coach.”


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