Georgia football: shame on those who criticize Deandre Baker

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Deandre Baker (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Deandre Baker (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Georgia football cornerback recently changed his mind about his decision to play in the Sugar Bowl. Instead, he’ll sit out and help coach Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes.

After initially saying he would play in the Sugar Bowl after receiving the Jim Thorpe Award, Deandre Baker has since changed his mind. Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart said Baker made his decision after spending time with his family in Miami for Christmas.

For the most part, people support Baker’s decision, even if some don’t fully understand it. Smart understood and voiced his support for Baker.

"“We at the University of Georgia support his decision. It’s a tough decision when you look at it, he was forced to make it. He probably spoke prematurely at the Thorpe Award but it was on his mind.”"

Fellow senior Jonathan Ledbetter said he hoped Baker would change his mind again, but he wouldn’t think any differently about Baker if he still decided not to play.

"“He just wanted to make sure he was healthy for his career and his future. It just kind of hit him in the middle of the week and he expressed it to us, to Kirby and to the leadership guys. He’s a leader on this team and we support him and he knows that… If he decides to come back and play, we’ll let him. And if he doesn’t play we’ll still love him.”"

Most people would agree with Ledbetter. We all would love to see a true Georgia football legend play one more game for the Bulldogs. But with millions of dollars in annual salaries, signing bonuses and endorsements awaiting him in just a few months, I can’t criticize Baker’s decision. There aren’t any championships on the line Tuesday. Why should he risk a career ruining injury?

And it’s not like he’s staying home in Athens or Miami. He’s with the team in New Orleans and he’s going to help out Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes, the two starting corners for the Sugar Bowl, and likely starters for 2019. Instead of having to wait for the G-Day Game to see our 2019 starting defensive backfield play together, that group makes its debut next week, and Baker will play a role in helping develop them.

What more could you ask of a guy in his position who, by the way, didn’t surrender a touchdown in 28-straight games. He went up against elite receivers and shut them all down week after week. And some of y’all have the nerve to be overly critical of his choice to not play. Some of y’all on Facebook and Twitter want to question his allegiance to the team and the Bulldog Nation, after everything he produced for us. Playing a major role in Georgia’s 24-4 record in the last two seasons.

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Deandre Baker doesn’t owe us anything, and the fact that he’s finding a way to still pay back the team in bowl prep speaks volumes of his commitment to the team. He’s got nothing left to prove to us, the team, media or scouts. I support Baker’s choice. I thank him for his two and half years as a shutdown corner. I thank him for staying with the team and helping them prepare. And I wish him a long and prosperous career in the NFL. If you truly appreciate Baker and what he accomplished in his career, you’ll feel the same way.