Former NFL Super Bowl champion Matt Birk knew he had to do something more after hearing post-abortive women share their heartbreak at a Maryland pro-life rally.
Birk, who was raised Catholic, always had been pro-life, but those women’s testimonies motivated him to become active in the pro-life movement, he told the Catholic News Service in a new interview.
Today, the retired football star speaks all across the country about the value of every human life, using his fame to be a voice for the unborn.
A St. Paul, Minnesota native, Birk grew up attending Catholic school. He went on to graduate from Harvard University and play center for the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. He is a six-time NFL Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, according to the report.
He told CNS that his life changed in 2011 when Baltimore Archbishop William Lori asked if he would be willing to speak at a pro-life rally. It was that event that inspired Birk to really put his pro-life beliefs into action.
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“It’s not hyperbole to say that that night changed my life,” Birk said, remembering several post-abortive women’s testimonies. “That was just something really profound. It really hit me. I was thinking, ‘My gosh, these women, they’ve been through it all and they want to tell everybody that abortion is wrong and that it’s a bunch of lies and the pain lasts.’”
Two years later, his pro-life beliefs thrust him into the national spotlight.
His team, the Baltimore Ravens, had won the Super Bowl and received an invitation to celebrate at the White House with President Barack Obama. Just a few weeks earlier, Birk had heard the president say, “God bless Planned Parenthood,” the largest abortion chain in America; and it troubled him.
Ultimately, Birk decided that he could not accept the president’s invitation because of his pro-life beliefs, and his decision attracted media attention.
“I wasn’t ready for what happened next,” Birk said in a 2020 interview. “All of a sudden, I got introduced to the 24-hour news cycle.”
Since then, he has been using the spotlight to advocate for unborn babies’ lives, both publicly and privately. According to CNS, he is the father of eight children, including two who were adopted; his wife also has been a life-long pro-life advocate, including as a volunteer at a St. Paul pregnancy center.
Birk said he feels blessed to have been encouraged in his beliefs by many coaches and other players.
“The locker room is actually a very spiritual place,” he told CNS. “It’s really one of the few workplaces in America where you’re actually encouraged to grow in your walk.”
He said many of his coaches were Catholic and about half of the men who he played with kept Bibles in their lockers and attended Bible studies.
“The money and the fame and the attention and all that, we know it’s not true. And our hearts long for truth. And so the NFL environment is really conducive to guys asking the most important questions and seeking out the truth,” Birk said.
As he travels and speaks, he said one thing keeps sticking out to him: “Light always triumphs darkness.”
“It’s a beautiful thing and just proof that God wins in the end,” he told CNS. “All we need to do is just keep being his faithful servants and doing individually what he’s asking each of us to do in this battle.”