Baker racing past the defense
Starting a family and launching a personal business sounds like the makings of both a successful and memorable year. Add in four touchdowns, a trip to the postseason and a career-high 300 receiving yards in the NFL, and you've summarized the last five months of tight end Chris Baker's life.
Baker is fresh off his best season with the Green & White and things couldn't be any better for the Queens native. In January, Baker and his girlfriend gave birth to their first child, a son named Chris Jr. Just a couple of months earlier, Baker – an avid traveler to say the least – began his own online travel company, CBsplendidtravel.com.
"I figured it was the perfect line of work for me, just a win-win situation," he said in a recent interview with newyorkjets.com. "It's an all-out site like Expedia or Travelocity. It started up in November, but I didn't have too much time to get involved with it throughout the season. Then I had to take a class to get certified to be a travel agent, so I didn't really get my foot in the door until after the season."
Since becoming a member of the Jets in 2002, Baker took his admiration for traveling to the next level, visiting a variety of destinations throughout the Caribbean Islands and Europe. After a few trips, however, something just didn't feel right.
"I went to a travel agency and I could never get exactly what I wanted. They were sending me to places where I wasn't in the area that I wanted to be in and at hotels that I didn't like," said Baker. "I began to do it online on my own and I started thinking if I could do all this stuff and I enjoy doing it, then why not do it for other people too and expand from there?"
The new site offers everything from flight, rental car and hotel packages to featured deals for an assortment of vacations such as Las Vegas, the Cruise ships, and Hawaii. Since his rookie year, Baker has seen many corners of the globe, so it's obvious that he knows his stuff.
Baker formerly owned property in the Dominican Republic and made two trips to Venice and Madrid last year alone. European trips seem to intrigue the former third round draft pick from Michigan State, but there's a white sand beach here in North America that has his official stamp of approval.
"It's good just to see something different, see a new culture and learn something new about the world," said Baker. "You get to see things that maybe you've seen on TV or places you've heard about – I love it.
"My new favorite spot to go is Cancun because it has both styles. If you want to go partying and stuff like that, you can. If you want to just go and relax and take in the beach, you can do that as well," he said. "The beaches are beautiful and the fishing is unreal – anything you could ask for they have available."
Following the arrival of Chris Baker Jr., any trips to the Mexican hotspot are postponed for the time being, but that hasn't stopped the new father from preparing another big vacation project. At the end of February, Baker's new second home will be built– a quiet lakeside getaway in Atlanta, GA.
"It's nice; it's right on a lake, and I'm big into fishing and all that," said Baker, who owns a boat here in Long Island as well. "It's just a place where I can go and relax and do some fishing and things like that. Fishing and boating takes up most of my time – they are my passion. When I have time and when I have the warm weather, that's what I'll be doing."
But the 27-year old can't just pick up and place himself beachside on the drop of a dime.
"I'm going to travel a lot less now because I don't want to take him (his son Chris, Jr.) too far," Baker said. "I always think about him before I think about myself. It's put a whole new perspective on life, it's great."
As of now, Baker will continue to develop his new business and spend as much time with his family as possible. Every offseason for Baker means placing football on the backburner until late spring.
"It's a grind and the seasons are so long," said Baker of life in the NFL. "When you get to this point in time, you just really want to relax and enjoy your family and things like that – anything to get away from football. If you don't get away and take time off, you'll go crazy by September.
"I just want to get on the beach for a little bit and get away from the cold," he added.
Anyone know a good travel agent?