Baker, Al “Bubba”
As a 6-6 250 pound defensive lineman, NFL scouts would probably toss him back into the deep end of the talent pool today. But when Al Baker came out of Colorado State University as a two-time all-conference choice in both football and basketball, the Detroit Lions were only too happy to reel him in as their No. 2 pick, the 40th choice overall in the 1978 draft. He repaid their confidence with a spectacular inaugural season, leading the NFL with 23 quarterback sacks, (the first of five consecutive years he would top the league in that category), and earning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lineman of the Year, and first team All-Pro laurels. Two more All-Pro seasons would follow during his five years with the Lions. Traded by Detroit to St. Louis, he spent four season with the Cardinals, then was traded to Cleveland in 1987, left to join the Minnesota Vikings in 1988 and returned to the Browns for the 1989 and 1990 seasons. During his 13-year pro career, he was credited with 148.5 sacks and in 2004 he was picked by Sports Illustrated as the ninth Greatest Pass Rusher in NFL history. When he retired after the 1990 season, the Florida native and one-time New Jersey high school star elected to remain in Cleveland, stressing an affinity for the area and its residents. He settled in Avon where he owns and operates Bubba Q’s Restaurant and Catering. The restaurant won several “Best in Cleveland” awards and has also developed a reputation for feeding the homeless. He and his wife Sabrina are the parents of two children, Brittany Bo and James Landon.