If there's one thing we take pride in here in Minnesota sports, it's our home town heroes. From Kent Hrbek to Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor to Dave Winfield - we love to root for those that are "one of us" on the field of professional sports dreams.
Vikings Center Matt Birk is no exception, and like those listed above, is a hard working class act. The fact that he's in the last year of his contract and his absence during the volunteer OTA's a couple of weeks ago raised some eyebrows around here.
When it comes down to it, who really cares? Veteran players like Birk should be able to miss OTA's regardless of their contract situation. Hell, the Giants' Michael Strahan skipped out of OTA's, minicamps, and training camp last season and ended up with a nine sack season - four more than the Vikings sack leaders Ray Edwards and Ben Leber. At this time of his career, players like Birk should be able to spend as much quality time with their families as possible before entering the non-stop grind of a NFL season.
Is the timing of his current contract situtuation along with all this convenient? Sure it is, but don't blame Birk, blame owner Zygi Wilf. Zygi has opened his wallet up more as promised so far leading into the 2008 season, but it's a player like Birk, the anchor of the offense and leader of one of the most prolific running attacks in NFL history that deserves a chunk of the coin.
After all, the Madden 2009 Team and Player rankings were recently released and Matt Birk is rated 95. So it's on you now Zygi, take care of the guy that's been a solid cornerstone to your offense, and one that's going to be depended on for a certain running back known as AD. Besides, it's the fans you need to keep happy if you ever want a chance at getting a new stadium and we the fans love our local sports heroes.