Pro Bowl nod an honor Cardinals’ Budda Baker doesn’t take for granted
TEMPE — Like any good leader, Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker has been hyper-focused on trying to get his team out of the rut it is in.
No one needs a reminder of what Baker brings to the table for the organization, whether it’s on the field or off of it.
But while some have been tuned out on the Cardinals season since they were eliminated from playoff contention this past Sunday — and even well before then — that hasn’t stopped those around the league and at home from catching the safety “work at work” as he calls it.
So much so that when the 2023 Pro Bowl selections dropped this week — as voted on by fans, coaches and players — Baker not only cracked the NFC roster for the fourth-straight time and fifth overall, he was elected as a starter by his peers.
“Players and coaches know more than the average fan, so to get those type of votes from those guys is very special to me, because I pride myself on playing really good football,” Baker said Thursday. “I might not be making splash plays here or there but I’m going to be doing my job every snap and hopefully I’m not going to be causing something that’s a big play here or there.
“What I enjoy the most is, win or loss, I gave it my all each and every game and after the game opposing players and opposing coaches, whether it’s DB coaches, head coaches, even special teams coaches are coming up to me and kind of praising me on how I play the game and how they see me on film. That’s definitely special for me, because I always want to put positive, good stuff on the film.”
Despite being a near-regular for the NFL’s All-Star Game, Baker and the rest of the 2023 Pro Bowlers will experience a whole new type of setup.
Instead of the traditional NFC-AFC showdown, the NFL has switched things up this season, opting for a trio of flag football games between the stars along with a full week of different skill competitions.
When it comes down to Baker’s participation throughout the week, the criteria is simple: do the easiest thing possible.
“That’s my mood,” Baker said Wednesday. “I could throw, I could play offense, I’ll probably do something like that. Do something totally different. I’m made as a safety, but you might see me running for a route.”
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about staying healthy “and (having) a nice water bottle filled with ‘water.'”