The road to the Super Bowl is different for each player. But it's never easy. This is retired tight end and former OSU Cowboy Billy Bajema's story.
“I was never a highly recruited kid out of high school,” Bajema told News 9’s Dusty Dvoracek. “I played football, baseball, basketball at Westmoore, but I was a quarterback. You know the teams that wanted me said this is a big kid that can run, not afraid of contact. We can find a place to use him.”
It was in Stillwater where Billy switched to tight end.
“I never had my hand on the ground or blocked anybody, but I went hard and blocked the wrong guy a lot for the first year or so.”
It was a change that paved his way to the NFL.
“My senior year I kind of realized I started getting a little attention from scouts, I realized they were looking at me. I got invited to the combine. I figured out that this dream of being an NFL player could be a reality,” Bajema said.
It was. Billy was drafted in the 7th round by the San Francisco 49ers.
“We had ten draft picks and I was number ten,” Billy remembered. “It was almost being an undrafted free agent. You know they’re not going to keep all ten draft picks…I was in a position I was going to have to earn it.”
He eventually got a chance to play and made the team. After three years with the Niners, he signed a deal with the St. Louis Rams. In his second year there, he played with another Oklahoman, Sam Bradford. But after three years with the Rams, he clawed his way onto the Baltimore Ravens.
“It was the right group of guys to rise up and gel and get that chemistry as we headed into the playoffs and a really special season,” Billy responded when asked if he thought that team had a chance to be something special.
As an 8-year veteran, Billy made it to the Super Bowl.
“You are standing there for the national anthem and you are like I’m playing in the Super Bowl and you realize this is something I was dreaming about all those years when I was nine, ten, eleven,” Billy said.“When I had a chance to work and get better each day and to someday to play in this game and be in this moment and to actually do it was really a special feeling.”
Super Bowl 47 wasn't played without any big surprises, one big one that was off the field. The power went out during the game.
“It’s like almost a moment you try to keep yourself from being a little bit too reflective and your mind right and prepared for the rest of the game ahead. It was kind of a moment to take it in,” Billy said. “It was just different and unique. When I’m talking about that game people remember which one I’m talking about. The one the lights went out.”
The power came back on, but the Ravens' lead had slowly shrunk. Billy and his teammates had to fight until a kickoff in the final seconds.
“What I can remember is the confetti coming down. I had three children at the time. So, my wife and boys came down on the field at the time. You know we did confetti angels on the field and the whole deal and celebrated with teammates and touching the Lombardi trophy and all those things that I will never forget,” he said.
Now, a father of four, and a former high school coach, Billy spends most of his time coaching his kids and tossing dough at his metro Pie 5 locations. But he's not afraid to show off that ring.
“That ring is something that will always be cool to show off. They’ll never take that away from you,” he said.