(L to R): Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, Matt Birk '98, Brian Hehir '75, the chair of Friends of Harvard Football, and Bob Scalise, The Nichols Family Director of Athletics, at the IFA reception Thursday evening (Denis Gostev).
NEW YORK — Harvard Athletics and the Ivy League honored the lifelong contributions of Matt Birk ’98 during the 2015 Ivy Football Association Dinner Thursday night at the Sheraton Times Square.
The IFA Dinner, led by co-masters of ceremonies Chris Berman, a 1977 Brown graduate and ESPN personality, and award-winning journalist Jack Ford, a 1972 graduate of Yale, recognized the on- and off-field achievements of Birk and the seven other 2015 IFA honorees: George Pyne (Brown ’88), Archie Roberts (Columbia ’65), General John Paxton, Jr. (Cornell ’73), Kenneth DeHaven (Dartmouth ’61), Terry Hensle (Penn ’64), William Powers (Princeton ’79) and Alexander Cutler (Yale ’73).
Each of the eight guests of honor had a chance to address the audience. Birk spoke about the impact on his life made by football and playing for Harvard and in the Ivy League. He praised the ideals of the Ivy League and expressed his gratitude to Harvard for the difference it has made in his life on and off the field.
Matt Birk '98, the National Football League's director of football development, graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics in 1998. An offensive lineman, Birk earned All-Ivy League and All-ECAC honors and was the first Crimson lineman to be selected in the NFL draft since Roger Caron '85 in 1985.
The NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012, Birk was a standout center for the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens from 1998-2012 and concluded his career by helping Baltimore to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. He spent the 2013 season working as an NFL-NFLPA appeals officer.
In his new role with the NFL, Birk assists in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He also assists in the administration of NFL game day operations. Birk guides the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.