The Sporting News recently came out with a list of the 20 smartest athletes in professional sports.
Ravens center Matt Birk ranks No. 6 on the list, which has not gone unnoticed around Ravens headquarters.
“Oh I heard that, yeah,” Birk said with a smile when I asked about the ranking. “And in other news, the Sporting News folded because they lost all their credibility.”
Now that’s a zinger. Apparently, Birk’s as funny as he is smart.
Birk got a 34 on his ACT while at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn., and graduated from Harvard in 1998 with a degree in economics.
He’s taking the Sporting News ranking in stride, although he says he’s gotten quite a few jokes about it from teammates and Ravens personnel since word came out on Thursday.
“It’s kind of a funny thing, I guess,” Birk says. “I was a little bummed, the guy who got fifth is a quarterback who went to Harvard [Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick], so at least that was humbling that I wasn’t the smartest Harvard guy.”
Oakland A’s pitcher Craig Breslow was voted as the No. 1 smartest athlete by The Sporting News. Tennessee Titans safety Myron Rolle, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, Anaheim Ducks forward (and enforcer) George Parros, and Fitzpatrick follow Breslow and rank just above Birk.
Birk, who is very active in the community, has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord tissue to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine after his death.
Apparently, they’ll be getting quite a large brain.
“It’s just all because of the Harvard thing,” Birk says. “There’s plenty of intelligent guys in sports, plenty of guys that are much smarter than I am. But like I said, the Harvard thing I think is what put me on the list.”