Matt Birk '98 Named Director of Football Development for NFL

Published by David Steinbach on July 13, 2014 at 1:17PM
BIRK

Although he has retired from playing football, Matt Birk '87 will not be leaving the sport altogether. The NFL announced July 10th that the former Ravens center has been named the Director of Football Development.

While his football career may be over, Matt Birk ’98 will not be going too far from the gridiron. On Thursday, the NFL announced that the former Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens center has been named Director of Football Development.

Birk’s new duties will involve working with players, coaches, and members of front offices to promote football across the country.  He will look to improve all-star games for high school and college student-athletes, while facilitating the evolution of high school player development programs. The former center will also take on administrative duties for NFL gameday operations.

“I'm very excited to begin this next chapter of my football career,” Birk said in a statement. “It's a real honor for me to be entrusted with developing the game in so many different ways.”

Drafted by the Vikings in 1998, Birk took over the starting center position in 2000 and began a run of six Pro Bowls in seven seasons. He signed with the Ravens in 2009 and captured his first championship in Super Bowl XLVII. A few weeks later, Birk announced his retirement after playing in 210 games.

Birk also made his presence felt off the field during his NFL career, as his HIKE Foundation supports at-risk students by offering them programs and guidance during educational transitions. He received the 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his commitment to reading and education in schools.

Football Has Athletes Join NFL Squads

Published by Jacob D. H. Feldman on May 13, 2014 at 12:33PM
Cam Brate

Senior Cam Brate was one of four Crimson football players to sign with NFL teams this past weekend.

Harvard’s influence in the NFL expanded over the weekend as four graduating members of the Crimson, defensive tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu, longsnapper Tyler Ott, tight end Cam Brate, and defensive back Brian Owusu, signed with NFL teams after going undrafted in the seven-round NFL Draft.

Obukwelu, who recorded 109 tackles and nine sacks over his Harvard career, signed with the Indianapolis Colts Sunday. Ott will not go nearly as far to live his NFL dreams, agreeing to a deal with the nearby New England Patriots. Brate, meanwhile, will return to his Midwestern roots, joining a Minnesota Vikings organization that also includes former Crimson lineman Kevin Murphy.

Lastly, Owusu will return to San Diego, where he had five tackles in a 42-20 win over the University of San Diego Toreros to start the 2013 season. This time, Owusu will be suiting up in Chargers blue and gold.

Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid was the only Ivy League player taken in the NFL Draft this year, going in the fifth round, 158th overall to the Detroit Lions. Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews signed with the Atlanta Falcons after going undrafted.

Alumni Update: Ruggiero ’02-04, Kacyvenski ’00, NFLPA Forum

Published by Caleb Lee on May 03, 2014 at 4:17PM
Race and Justice in Sports

The full panel on Race and Justice included from left to right: Richard K. Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Arian I. Foster, Houston Texas running back, Larry D. Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals Receiver, and Domonique Foxworth, former NFL Players Association president and current Harvard MBA candidate.

With the seasons winding down for most of the spring sports, let’s take a look at some former athletes—some Harvard alumni—that have left their mark on the university recently.

Olympic Excellence: Angela Ruggiero ’02-04

A little over two months ago, Ruggiero—perhaps one of the most accomplished US women’s ice hockey stars in recent memory—came to speak at the Harvard Innovation Lab as a part of the tech company MC10’s sports advisory board.

The four-time US Olympian focused on key issues concerning the intersection of technology and sports, notably commenting, “At some point in time, your natural abilities aren’t going to be enough. I think at that point in time...you actually decide as an athlete that you want to get even better.”

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Takeaways from Harvard Football's Spring Game

Published by David Steinbach on April 27, 2014 at 9:21PM

While admitted students were exploring the campus for Visitas, this past weekend also served as a fall preview for the Harvard football team. On Saturday night, the Crimson took the field at Harvard Stadium in organized fashion for the first time since November to play its annual Spring Game.

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Alumni Update: Bryant '09, Chu '06-07, Hermann '06

Published by Caleb Lee on April 06, 2014 at 12:04PM
DESMOND BRYANT

After heart surgery, defensive lineman Desmond Bryant '09 is looking to make a full comeback to the Cleveland Browns' defensive line

The Back Page takes a step back from the NCAA tournament bracket madness to reconnect with some Crimson alums from years past.

He’s Got Heart: Desmond Bryant ’09

A little over a year ago, Crimson sports alumnus Scott Sherman covered Bryant’s new contract with the Cleveland Browns. Since his multi-million dollar contract, Bryant has been busy; after recording 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 12 games in his first season with the Browns, the former Crimson star underwent an emergency medical procedure in December to correct an irregular heartbeat.

With his career on hold, Bryant worked hard to return to his former strength. Just a few weeks ago, the defensive end was given full clearance to return to full football activities. He is currently preparing to make a full comeback to the Brown’s starting defensive line.

The 6’6” Bryant turned town offers from Duke, Florida A&M, and Towson to come to play for the Crimson, and he became a key starter on the perfect 10-0 2005 Harvard team that was led by fellow future NFL player Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05.

After the promising start, Bryant ran into some trouble and was suspended from the team twice, first for violating team rules and then for academic reasons. He returned for his senior year, though, recording 4.5 tackles for a loss and was granted second-team Ivy League honors.

Undrafted coming out of Harvard, Bryant got his chance with the Oakland Raiders as a rookie in 2009, recording 32 tackles in 16 games. Since then, the 310-pounder has found continued success in the NFL, recording five sacks in his third year and four in his fourth year.

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