The 2021 Super Bowl, COVID-19 and More with Al ‘Bubba’ Baker February 03 2021
We’re currently experiencing a football season like we’ve never seen before – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s plagued our nation. Despite that, though, the National Football League is still finding ways to adapt and carry on as ‘normally’ as possible. We wanted to know what former NFL Pro Al ‘Bubba’ Baker thought about the season thus far, and the big game set to play this weekend.
Question #1: What are your thoughts and comments about the NFL season overall in 2020?
Al Baker: First, I want to admit that I was wrong – I didn’t think this season should have (or could have) gone forward. It’s incredible that it did, and I’m truly amazed. The NFL produced 256 games this season, which makes them champions of fear in my book – The players, the coaches, the refs, and the owners… I truly applaud them.
Personally, if this had happened in my day, I would have opted out of playing over fear of the virus.
Question #2: Last interview, your Super Bowl pick was the New England Patriots. Has that changed?
Al Baker: Yes. A whole lot would’ve had to go wrong for the Patriots to be in the Superbowl. Kansas City is my pick this year – They’ve improved the team that they had last year, and they’ve done some really great things. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady lead in their seasons, but KC is the reigning champion. It’s really hard to argue with a champion.
I live in the Tampa area, so of course I would like to go with the Buccaneers… but as a winner, I’m going with Kansas City.
Question #3: What player(s) impressed you the most this season?
Al Baker: Wow! The #1 player on my list would probably be Aaron Rogers. I like the way he did it. Green Bay drafted a QB and it made him angry, which changed his game. He’s 37… You’ve got to respect that.
#2 would be my Rookie of the Year, Chase Young from Ohio State. I was impressed by him because his numbers didn’t reflect his impact on the field. Early on, they were double teaming him and yet he still made an impact. But the most impressive thing that he accomplished was becoming Team Captain as a Rookie. I’ve never played with anyone that was responsible enough to become a Team Captain so quickly.
#3 would be my MVP who goes beyond just being impressive – He also impacted the world. Alex Smith. 2 years ago, he broke his leg pretty bad and needed 18 operations. They grafted skin, exchanged veins… He literally has a bionic leg. He ended up getting an infection, and the doctors recommended amputation. He said no (and almost lost his life because of it). He came back and played this year, which is incredible. He came back to be the leader of the team, which to me, is why you play sports. When there’s seconds left on the clock, you go for a hail mary and go for the win.
Question #4: How do you think your old team, the Cleveland Browns, did this season?
Al Baker: The Browns are an inspiration to the city of Cleveland, even though they haven’t been in a playoff game in 18 years.
Funny story – My granddaughter is in school virtually right now. They were celebrating ‘Browns Day’ at school, and the teacher announced to the class that one of her students had a grandfather that played for the Browns. She turned to my granddaughter and asked her to say my name, but she didn’t know it. She only knows me as ‘Papa’ not Al Baker. How sweet is that?
Question #5: Do you think playing NFL games in stadiums with no live fans is similar to you and your daughter having to film cooking shows without a live audience?
Al Baker: With our cooking show, we don’t get the instant gratification like you get with football. Hearing the fans cheering and interacting with the game really helps motivate you to keep going. We really become dependent on each other for that when it comes to the cooking show.
Question #6: What are your plans for the Super Bowl? Watch party? Anything with the NFL?
Al Baker: Because of COVID-19, I am not doing anything. I don’t want to risk my health for one brief moment in time. I’m social distancing, doing my part and keeping safe. I have family that I’m responsible for.
We all have to hold on and get focused. That’s what I remind myself everyday.