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Matt Birk urges fellow NFL players to donate their brains

Matt Birk

Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk speaks at an NFL Super Bowl XLVII football news conference on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


Ravens center Matt Birk has been using the high profile of Super Bowl week to talk to fellow players and the media about one of the issues most important to him: encouraging NFL players to donate their brains to a Boston University program that researches brain injuries in sports.

“I compare it to being an organ donor. To me it’s not that big a deal. Terrible pun – it’s a no-brainer,” Birk said. “It really is, because once you’re gone, you’re gone, and if some or your organs or body parts can help somebody else or help further the understanding of the effects of football then I’m all for it.”

Birk acknowledged that he’s concerned about the toll that all his years of playing football may have taken on his brain. But he said there’s a risk of overreacting to that.

“Sometimes you worry about it, especially if something happens like you can’t find your car keys,” Birk said. “You think, ‘Oh my gosh.’ You overreact a little bit. You think, ‘Is this from football, is that why I can’t remember why I came into this room?’”

Birk says he would allow his three sons to play football. And he hopes that brain research can provide insight that might make the game safer in the future.