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Super Bowl XLVII: Billy Bajema thrilled to be with the Baltimore Ravens

COMMENTARY — Former Westmoore High and Oklahoma State standout wasn't sure he would play pro football this season. But Baltimore gave him a shot, and now he will play in the sport's ultimate game.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 28, 2013
/articleid/3749586/1/pictures/1936852">Photo - Billy Bajema joined the Ravens in training camp, and now will play with them in the Super Bowl. AP photo
Billy Bajema joined the Ravens in training camp, and now will play with them in the Super Bowl. AP photo

He paused.

“But I'm sure thankful it did.”

About a week into training camp, Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a hand injury. With tight end Ed Dickson already sidelined by injury, the Ravens needed another tight end.

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.

Bajema chuckled.

“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.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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