Bajema was their guy.
Less than 48 hours after getting the call, he was in the Ravens’ camp, but he wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot. In Baltimore’s four preseason games, he caught seven passes, including two touchdowns, but with Pitta and Dickson poised to be the primary pass-catching tight ends, Bajema was going to need to be more of a blocker.
He showed during the preseason that he could do that — and anything else the team needed.
One teammate nicknamed him “Crazy Bill.”
Bajema vaulted ahead of the other tight ends on the fringe of making the team and earned one of the Ravens’ final roster spots.
He and others around him knew then what an opportunity he had in front of him.
“You could go to a Super Bowl,” his wife told him at one point. “That’s a good team.”
Still, it’s been a bit surreal for Bajema the way things have turned out. Up until a few weeks ago, he’d never played in a playoff game. Now, he’s a week away from playing in the Super Bowl.
It’s every kid’s backyard dream.
And Bajema has had a hand in getting the Ravens there. While he has no catches this season, he has become a regular in the team’s short-yardage and goal-line packages.
When Ray Rice scooted into the end zone for Baltimore’s first score at New England last week, Bajema had a dominating block. He smashed the defender across from him, put him on the ground and helped open the way for the Ravens tailback.
When Joe Flacco connected with Anquan Boldin for a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown, Bajema blocked a defensive end and gave the Ravens quarterback a little more time in the pocket.
Bajema admits that he’d love to catch a pass or two — wouldn’t the Super Bowl be the perfect time for his first of the season? — but he’s not hung up any of that. He will gladly be a blocker “if it means being part of a Super Bowl championship,” he said.
Earlier this week, Bajema received a text from one of his former pastors.
“Only God could write a script this good,” the message said.
“The whole thing has been a blessing,” he said. “Six months ago to this day, I had no idea if I’d even get a chance to play this year. Now, I’m getting ready to head to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
“It’s kind of surreal.”
And absolutely cool.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
MORE FROM NEWSOK
Here’s a look at the Ravens who have ties to our fair state:
• Billy Bajema: The Ravens tight end was a three-sport standout at Westmoore High, then became a tight end at Oklahoma State from 2001-04. He amassed 676 receiving yards during his Cowboy career. Bajema now makes his offseason home in Oklahoma.
• Ryan McBean: The Ravens defensive lineman has been on injured reserve this season with an ankle injury. He was a defensive end at OSU in 2005 and 2006 after transferring from Hinds Junior College in Mississippi. He had 62 tackles and 12.5 sacks during his Cowboy career.
Super Bowl XLVII
• When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3
• Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome,
• TV: KWTV-9 (Cox 10/HD 709, Dish 9, DirecTV 9, U-verse 9/HD 1009)