EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Former NFL center Matt Birk has never been afraid to share his political views, and he made a stand this week by declining a trip to the White House.
Birk, who played 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings and won a Super Bowl this past season with the Baltimore Ravens, skipped the customary White House invitation and meeting with President Barack Obama when the rest of his former Baltimore Ravens teammates went to the White House this week.
Birk said he made a stand because of recent comments made by Obama.
“I wasn’t there,” Birk told KFAN radio in Minneapolis on Thursday. “I would say this, I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood.’ “
Birk, a devout Christian, has taken public stances before, especially recently when it has come to gay rights issues. Birk notably clashed publicly with former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who has been vocal in his support for gay rights.
So, when Obama made his remarks about Planned Parenthood, Birk decided to protest the issue by missing out on his chance to visit the White House with the rest of the champion Ravens.
“Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year,” Birk told the radio station. “I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way.”
Birk added: “I’m very confused by the statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.”
Birk, a Harvard graduate who is well respected, retired this offseason after spending 14 years in the NFL with Minnesota and Baltimore.