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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - Two days before the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens were scheduled to receive their long-awaited Super Bowl Rings, the team and it's ownership continued one of the great traditions within American sports and took a visit to the White House to meet with the President of the United States.
As a Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh presented President Barrack Obama with a #44 "Mr. President" Ravens Jersey, all the Super Bowl Champion Ravens players applauded. All except for a select few.
There were a few notable Ravens players who were not in attendance, all for various reasons. Anquan Boldin (SF) is no longer with the team and was tied up with 49ers mini camps. Paul Kruger and Cary Williams were also busy with their new teams (Cleveland and Philadelphia respectively) and linebacker Bernard Pollard is no longer on good terms with the team after being unceremoniously released during the offseason. But there was one player absent from Wednesday's festivities who remains on good terms with the team, is not tied up with OTAs or Mini Camps but simply declined his invitation for other reasons.
Retired Ravens center and former Minnesota Vikings center (1998-2008) joined The Power Trip Morning Show on 100.3FM KFAN in the Twin Cities Thursday morning and shared that he declined the president's invitation after having issue with some of the President's recent comments.
"I wasn't there," Birk told The Power Trip. "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, who also took a public stance during the recent gay rights movements that swung through our country last year, is a very open and public Catholic and claims that he took offense to these comments that were made by President Obama. So much so, that he declined a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and be honored by the President at the White House.
"Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year," Birk explained. "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."
Planned Parenthood is one of the nations leading sexual and reproductive health care providers. Their stances on birth control, abortion and the morning after pill have often pinned the in a head on clash with many Catholic and Conservative Christian groups across the nation.
"I'm very confused by [the President's] statement," Birk questioned. "For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."
While Birk may look back on Wednesday's visit and think about what could have been, for him, it will remain proud moment where he stood firm, standing up for something that he believes in. And that ladies and gentlemen, is an integral right, the First Amendment, that the current President and all of those who came before him, fought to preserve no matter what side of the aisle they may have been standing on.
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Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN