Pain the price willingly paid in NFL

Updated: December 31, 2009, 11:49 AM ET
By Elizabeth Merrill | ESPN.com

SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE BALTIMORE, JUST BEFORE 7 A.M. -- Four kids, whose ages range from 1 to 7, are snoozing in Matt and Adrianna Birk's cramped bed. They don't know that their daddy could've been a stockbroker on Wall Street, that a path of lesser resistance and stronger knees was waiting for him in his final months at Harvard. They don't know that crawling out of this bed will be one of the toughest things Birk does today.

No sick days. That's what Birk vowed when he made it ...

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