Who is David Baker? President of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame

The arrival of playoff time in the NFL is also synonymous with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While the Hall of Fame needs little introduction itself, David Baker, the President of the Hall of Fame, is a man who raises eyebrows among NFL fans at this time each year.

David Baker has become famous for “the knock”

One of David Baker’s roles as the President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is getting to inform NFL players that they have been selected. Given his size and stature at 6-foot-9 and nearly 400 pounds, Baker makes for an imposing figure. While his role is a year-round job, the majority of his notoriety comes with “the knock.”

Prior to the NFL Honors awards show, Baker goes around to each player who goes into the award and knocks on their door. The players are then taken straight to the NFL Honors, where they are introduced.

David Baker also got the opportunity to inform Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher that they had made it into the Hall of Fame live on television for the NFL’s 100th season. Both of those moments have become famous for the reactions of Johnson and Cowher to getting the news.

However, Baker’s role with the Pro Football Hall of Fame is much larger than just one evening.

Baker has transformed the Hall of Fame since taking over in 2014

Baker’s physical stature is what many know him for, but those close to him know him for the size of his vision in projects. His focus since arriving in Canton, Ohio has been to focus on the organization’s mission: “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.”

Since his arrival into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame picture, David Baker has been part of the Hall of Fame’s transformation. The Hall of Fame has greatly expanded programming across the country, seen increased television ratings, and received broader exposure of their mission.

During his time, the Hall of Fame has experienced their greatest financial results in the organization’s 53-year history. In the first three years that David Baker was leading the Hall of Fame, their net assets grew by 161 percent.

In 2018, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was voted the Best Attraction for Sports Fans in the USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice contest.

Baker was at the forefront of the development of the Hall of Fame Village

Branded as a development that will transform the Hall’s campus into “Football Heaven” for NFL fans, David Baker has been at the forefront of the $600 million project. The Hall of Fame Village is made up of nine main components:

  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame museum;
  • Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium & Entertainment Complex;
  • Four-Star Hotel & Conference Center;
  • Player Care Center that includes Legends Landing Senior Living Community;
  • State of the Art National Football & Youth Sports Complex;
  • The Center for EXCELLENCE (Coaches University, an Academy of Corporate Excellence, the Institute for Officiating, and the Center for Athletic Performance and Safety);
  • Performance Center with an indoor 100-yard field and convention space;
  • Main Street Hall of Fame (restaurants and support retail that will feature the “World’s Greatest Sports Bar”);
  • Hall of Fame Experience (high-tech virtual reality attraction plus a football-themed indoor water park)

David Baker has been instrumental in growing the Hall of Fame around the world

Baker has traveled overseas to help grow the Hall of Fame and to some extent the game of professional football as a whole. He went with 18 members of the Hall of Fame and Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft to Israel, the second trip of its kind. Kraft commented on Baker’s passion and salesmanship during that trip.

“Wherever [Baker] is, I’ve seen him in whatever environment, he’s over there 7,000, 10,000 miles away, inviting people to come to the Hall of Fame and making it sound darn exciting.”

What is David Baker’s background?

David Baker has a wide-ranging background before coming into the NFL as the Pro Football Hall of Fame president. Baker played basketball at UC Irvine before pursuing a professional career in the sport in Europe. He played for a team in Switzerland while also playing worldwide for a Christian basketball team. However, after two seasons in Europe, Baker attended Pepperdine University School of Law. During his time there, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.

Following his law degree, Baker entered politics, where he served as the mayor and a councilman for Irvine in California. However, when looking to further his political career, Baker plead guilty to a forgery charge, ending his political aspirations.

David Baker was a successful commissioner in the AFL before becoming part of the picture in the NFL

Baker joined the Arena Football League (AFL) as the Los Angeles-based Anaheim Pirates owner in 1996. However, after just a single year as an owner, Baker became the AFL commissioner in 1997. Baker led the AFL for nearly 12 years, resigning in 2008. Under his leadership, the AFL became a profitable league and was in discussion to hold an exhibition game in Germany at the time of his resignation.

When Baker ran the league, the cost of a franchise increased more than 100-fold from $175,000 to $32 million. The league had fast become one of the most fan-friendly in the world under Baker’s leadership.

After leaving the AFL, Baker served as the managing partner for Union Village. The Village, located in Nevada, is the first integrated health village in the world. Baker left the project in 2014 to take up his role as the Hall of Fame president.

During his time in the AFL, David Baker was a candidate to take over as commissioner of the NFL

While commissioner of the AFL, Baker established a relationship with then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. He also met Roger Goodell, a man with whom he exchanged ideas regularly over the next decade.

David Baker’s passion for the game caught the eye of Jerry Jones, who owned an AFL team as well as the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Jones even tabbed Baker as a potential future NFL commissioner. However, after Baker’s son, Sam, was drafted into the NFL, a conflict of interest arose.

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