It has become a habit over the years, and a bit of a running joke in the Seahawks’ draft room, that the televised coverage of the NFL Draft goes to commercial just as the team is preparing to make its selections.
Jeff Baker is hoping that doesn’t happen in Saturday’s fourth round of the 2014 selection process, because he has been selected to announce the team’s pick in that round at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
“I’m really hoping they don’t do that, because I’ve got family and friends who are saying, ‘I’ll be watching for you,’ ” Baker said Friday afternoon, when he was en route from the airport to his hotel in Manhattan with his wife, Alison.
“I couldn’t even tell you how I felt, I can’t put it into words,” Baker said when asked for his reaction when told of his selection. “I was just so excited. Armando (Mejia, Seahawks fan development International outreach manager) had myself and my wife on speaker phone telling us we were chosen, and it was just a super awesome feeling. I can’t describe how excited I was.”
Baker is a Wounded Warrior, having been awarded the Purple Heart in 2012. A sergeant in the U.S. Army, he served three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and six in Operation Enduring Freedom. Baker is currently a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations unit in Ft. Benning, Ga.
Because he has TBI (traumatic brain injury), Baker admits, “I have a hard time remembering games from when I was younger.”
So his favorite Seahawks memory – before the Super Bowl win in February, that is – was a 34-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers in a Seattle snowstorm during the 2006 season. His favorite all-time Seahawks is Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent because, as Baker put it, “he overcame the odds coming from a small town to become a star.” Baker’s favorite current player is All-Pro cornerback
Baker also was at the team’s 2012 divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, when the Seahawks lost 30-28 on a last-second field goal.
“Unfortunately, we lost in the end,” he said. “But during this time of recovery, I have seen the Seahawks have a heartbreaking loss during the playoffs in Atlanta, but comeback, not give up and win the Super Bowl.”
And the players have pointed to that loss in Atlanta to end the 2012 season – and the feelings that lingered long after that loss – as the impetus for all the good things that transpired during the 2013 season.
Baker grew up in Stanwood and remembers going to Mariners games at the Kingdome. In fact, he attended the Mariners’ final game at the Kingdome in 1999. He was 10 when the Seahawks became his team, and his team they remain.
“That’s when I understood football a lot more, and I was always watching the Seahawks’ game with my family,” he said.
Baker was chosen to participate in the draft process, in part, because of what he wrote in his application: “To be selected to represent my home team would be a great honor. In this year, to be able to say I saw the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl, finally start overcoming my own obstacles because of my injuries, getting promoted and being selected to represent the Seahawks and announce the fourth pick, it would be one of my most memorable and life-changing years.”
Baker is ready to announce the 132nd pick overall. But if needed to also announce the fourth-round pick the Seahawks acquired in Thursday night’s trade with the Minnesota Vikings (No. 108 overall), he is ready, willing, able and would be doubly honored.
“As far as I know, I’ve got one pick,” he said. “But I’m on standby if they need me to make another one.”