FLOWERY BRANCH–Each week during the season The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will conduct a question-and-answer session with a Falcons player about his off-field interests and activities. The intention is to give fans some insight into the players and a little sense of what makes them tick. This week we spoke with offensive tackle Sam Baker.
Baker, 27, is in his fifth NFL season and likely has a few more left in his future. Once football is done, Baker says he wants to write about high school sports.
Baker talked about where his interest in writing comes from and why he doesn’t want to write about professional sports.
Q: How did your interest in writing start?
A: It was actually that my dad (David Baker) was an English (literature) major in college, so he’s always been one of those guys if he asks you how your day was and you say, ‘Oh, it was a tough day,’ he would say, ‘Well, you know, (Rudyard) Kipling said … ‘” or “Abraham Lincoln said this …’ He’d always have a quote, and that was his passion. I’ve always been into literature. As an athlete, that’s where the transition is to writing about sports and writing about a level you used to be that.
Q: So that would be something you’d be interested in doing after football?
A: Oh, 100 percent. Maybe not at the level of you guys because you have to be so critical. It’s like your job to say the good and the bad and just state the fact. Whereas in high school, you can just write the good things about it.
Q: You are into literature, so do you ever write any fiction?
A: No, not really. My dad a long time ago gave me a big book called “The Book of Virtues” (by William J. Bennett), and it’s got a lot of different poems and stories in it. It was a thing that really grew my interest. There have been days when stuff is going on and you reach back to Kipling’s poems and different things like that just because he instilled that in me pretty early.
Q: Any particular writers you like?
A: (Henry David) Thoreau, Kipling obviously, just because my dad was into him. Just certain poems and certain things. He has on his wall the Teddy Roosevelt quote: “It’s not the critic who counts …” He always quotes that. It was something that I always admired about him. He was athlete, too. He had his passion on the court, but he also had his passion off the court.
Q: What does your dad do? Is he an English professor?
A: No, actually he’s done just about everything. He’s a lawyer; he went to Pepperdine (University). He was the mayor for a while of Irvine in Southern California. Then he went from that, he bought an Arena League team, and then he was the commissioner of the Arena League. And now he is in development, building a medical building. Kipling has a poem (“If”) where he talks about you can take your life’s earnings and risk it all on one game of pitch-and-toss and lose and never breathe a word of your loss. He’s done that before, where he’s gambled his whole life.