The Giants have a new champion among them.
Angela Baker, an offensive quality control coach and the inaugural recipient of the Rosie Brown Minority Coaching Fellowship, was back on the field with the team Tuesday for the first time this training camp, fresh off a trip to Finland, where she helped Team USA win the gold medal in the IFAF Women’s World Football Championship. Baker was a wide receiver on the team that beat Great Britain, 42-14, in the final on Sunday.
“The players want to know: Did you do your job? Did you do what you had to do?” Baker told Newsday of their questions for her after she rejoined the team, having landed in Newark at about 9:30 on Monday night. “I tell them everything went well. I worked my butt off and the team did well. I’m sad to come back without any touchdowns, but that just goes to show it’s not what it’s all about. Blocks count for receivers just as much as touchdowns. It’s a nice lesson for some of the guys.”
Being able to take her own experiences and turn them into something the Giants players can use is what coaching is all about, and Baker, 29, is embracing that next step in her football career. After more than a decade of playing full-contact women’s football, Baker said this summer’s tournament was her last as an athlete. (She was first introduced to the sport as a student at Slippery Rock when she saw a flier announcing a tryout for the Pittsburgh Passion and also helped Team USA win gold at the 2017 World Championship.)
“I hung up my cleats,” she said. “That was kind of my grand finale. It’s hard, but at the same time, being in the coaching world, it’s nice because I am still surrounded by football every day . . . It opens my eyes a little bit more. I’m not focused on myself as much, I’m focused on [the players] and learning more from coaches here and putting that into my coaching.”
When Baker was interviewing for the coaching job with the Giants, she told them about her desire to play in the World Championships and the likelihood that she would miss the start of training camp, They were fine with it. Excited about it, too.
“Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll, they’re incredible and have been supportive from the beginning,” Baker said. “Joe Schoen came by my office [Tuesday] morning and was like, ‘How’d it go? How was everything?’ Hearing the excitement from the GM and the head coach, the people who really call the shots, is pretty awesome.”
It trickles down to everyone in the organization.
“We were keeping up with her,” quarterback Daniel Jones said of the team following Baker’s exploits in Finland while they were going through their own training camp. “She’s a great coach. She brings a lot to our offense.”
Baker began her NFL coaching career in the spring of 2020 when she spent three weeks with the Browns’ staff as part of the NFL’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coach Fellowship program. That experience was limited to virtual participation because of the pandemic, but she got to work with Cleveland’s quarterbacks, including Baker Mayfield, by analyzing video and studying the playbook.
She spent the 2021 season at the University of Redlands in California, where she helped coach the kickers and punters and was a defensive quality control coach.
As a quality control coach with the Giants, Baker works with Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney. At practices, she charts plays and reps and fine-tunes technique in drills.
At an unimposing 5-4, Baker dashes around the field swimming through the sea of professional football players, many of whom are a foot or more taller than her. Some weigh nearly three times as much as she does.
But Baker said having played — and won a pair of gold medals — gives her some added clout with the Giants.
“It helps get some of the players to respect what I do,” she said of her playing resume. “I’m not just coaching because I’ve studied it. I’ve played. Not necessarily at the same level as them, but the equivalent in the women’s world. I’ve been at the top tier of the female world, so it’s nice to come here and get the respect from the guys who are like, ‘You’ve done it, you’ve been on the field, you’ve been in between the lines.’ ”
Game, it seems, recognizes game . . . no matter the gender.