Every summer, each of the 32 teams of the National Football League takes 90 players to training camp. That’s a total of 2,880 players, all fighting for their chance to make the league.
By this Saturday, each team must cut its rosters down to 53 players. That means that 1,184 would-be NFL players will have their dreams dashed as their teams cut them loose.
Edwin Baker is one of those 2,880 players fighting for his chance.
You may not know Edwin Baker’s name, but that doesn’t make his story any less interesting.
Three years ago, the San Diego Chargers drafted Baker, a running back from Michigan State, in the 7th round. Baker was pick #250. There were 253 picks in that year's draft.
As many 7th round picks do, he’s bounced around the league since then, spending time with the Chargers, the Denver Broncos, the Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints.
What sets Baker apart, especially for those of us in housing finance, is what he did with his off-season this past year.
After being active for three games during the 2014 season as a member of the Saints, Baker spent part of his off-season working at United Shore Financial Services, a wholesale mortgage lender.
According to a feature on Baker from the Detroit Free Press, Baker worked at United Shore for three months during the off-season, making $14 an hour in United Shore’s human resources department.
The job at United Shore didn’t happen by accident, as Baker formed a relationship with the company’s founder, Jeff Ishbia, through Kelly Trammer, an assistant vice president of finance at United Shore. Trammer is also a longtime close friend of Baker's family, the Free Press reports.
At United Shore, Baker fit right in, thanks to the company’s unique environment, which is set by the company’s president and CEO, Mat Ishbia.
Ishbia is no stranger to athletes, having played college basketball at Michigan State. Ishbia brought much of what he learned at Michigan State to United Shore. For more on Ishbia and the culture at United Shore, click here.
According to the Free Press report, Baker enjoyed the atmosphere at United Shore.
From the Free Press:
“Well, since Mat played basketball and he's very sports-driven, this company is built off of sports, as far as hard-working, dedication, team-building," Baker said. "Just knowing you have to rely on the person next to you in order for the company to work.
"And that's how football is. I'm very lucky that this company is like that, so I fell right and I felt comfortable with everything. The motivational speeches and everything that revolved around sports, I was used to. So I just jumped right in."
And Ishbia told the Free Press that he was “blown away” by Baker’s willingness to dive in and take on whatever was asked of him.
Again from the Free Press:
"To me, I was kind of blown away that he was kind of thinking like that because I've seen him on TV and I know of him," Ishbia said. "That's kind of how we heard about it. And I was excited and then I thought, 'Is he really going to show up and want to work every day?' We can't pay him what they pay in the NFL, so how is this really going to work?
"And it couldn't have worked any better. He came in and fit in with the team. He's not better than anyone. He's just part of the team and he's exceeded expectations across the board."
After spending three months with United Shore, Baker is back with the Saints and fighting for one of those 53 roster spots with cut down day quickly approaching.
According to a report from New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, Baker’s spot on the roster is anything but guaranteed, but Baker is doing his best to take advantage of his limited opportunities.
In Sunday’s preseason game, Baker played only 8 snaps, but turned one of those into a 45-yard touchdown run.
Despite the big play, the odds are stacked against Baker making the Saints. Times-Picayune Columnist Jeff Duncan tweeted Sunday that Baker is “NOT” making the team this year.
Payton then had to sheepishly back track (Because clearly Edwin Baker is NOT making this team, barring injury.)— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) August 31, 2015
But, there are probably a bunch of other teams that could use a guy like Baker.
If not, it seems like he has a place at United Shore waiting for him whenever his football career ends.
(Picture above courtesy of The Advocate)