Sept. 20, 1964: The hit that knocked Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle to the ground and out of football was delivered by John Baker Jr. “Big John” (he was 6-foot-7 and weighed 279 pounds) played for the Steelers from 1963 to 1967. “He was a great player,” former assistant coach Dick Hoak once said. “But his big thing was rushing the passer. He was a big, tall guy who could get his hands up, and it was tough to see over him.”
After 11 seasons in the NFL, Baker returned to his hometown of Raleigh, N.C. and became a trailblazing sheriff. The profession must have been in his blood. Baker’s father was Raleigh’s first black police officer.