Baltimore native and Calvert Hall graduate Kenji Bahar says it was a dream come true to suit up for the Ravens during their Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and credits his family for supporting him throughout his football career and making such a day possible.
Bahar played for FCS Monmouth from 2016-2019, throwing for 9,642 yards and 70 touchdowns while completing 61.8 percent of his passes throughout his four-year career. Prior to that, he graduated from Calvert Hall, where he was a two-year starter.
His career at Monmouth earned Bahar a look at the Ravens’ rookie minicamp in May, and an unusual series of events led to him being the backup quarterback against the Bengals. For a Baltimore kid who grew up a Ravens fan, it was quite the experience.
“Just to get the opportunity to go out there for my home team, play against Cincinnati, it’s been a dream come true,” Bahar said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 11. “Just watching them growing up as a kid, watching them play on TV, now you get to experience it live and be dressed up on the 53-man roster, it’s definitely a dream come true and not an opportunity a lot of people get to have.”
So how did Bahar get that chance to be the backup quarterback even though he was let go after rookie minicamp? It was quite a ride:
— He was signed by the Ravens in July after Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of training camp, but he was cut in early August.
— He was re-signed in mid-August after Trace McSorley suffered a back injury, but he was cut in late August. He did briefly appear in the Ravens’ preseason game against the Carolina Panthers Aug. 21.
— He was signed to practice squad in late November after McSorley was signed by the Arizona Cardinals, but he was cut six days later.
— He was signed to back up Josh Johnson in Cincinnati after Tyler Huntley tested positive for COVID-19. He did not appear against the Bengals and was cut after the game. A couple of family members who live in Ohio were able to make it to Cincinnati for the game, but the rest had to watch from home.
Bahar credits his family for supporting his football career throughout his life, making the day in Cincinnati possible.
“They were with me along my whole journey since I was a kid, just pushing me to be great and just having faith in me no matter what happened,” Bahar said. “They were always by my side. So I would definitely say my family and God — just keep my trust in God and whatever opportunity comes, taking full advantage of it whether I’m here today or gone tomorrow, on the team or not, it’s an opportunity. I’m just blessed, man.”
Bahar discussed some other topics relating to his stints with the Ravens …
On what his mindset was in Cincinnati:
“It definitely was an up-and-down feeling, especially being on and off of the team. This was my first time being actually active, so it’s definitely like I was one step away from playing. I was the backup quarterback that game. Just controlling my emotions, staying toward the path of being that person I’ve always been — cool, calm and collected and keeping all my emotions [in check] because it definitely was a lot of emotions going on with me being there. But if my opportunity [to play came], I had to be ready.”
On what the Ravens’ locker room is like:
“I haven’t been in a bunch of NFL locker rooms, but that locker room was special, especially being the last man on the roster, per se, that undrafted quarterback. A lot of the vet guys reached out to me and were pushing for me. I feel like you don’t see that in a lot of different places. In college, your star player, he’s not really talking to the walk-on every day. You don’t see that in a bunch of locker rooms. As soon as I came in, Calais Campbell, he had a conversation with me. He’s telling me he’s rooting for me, small-school guy just pushing. That’s different coming from a guy like that.”
On his hopes for the future:
“You really don’t know. Any opportunity that comes through, you’ve got to take advantage of, but the ultimate goal is to be in the NFL, but right now, I’m just staying ready. Hopefully I get signed to a team in the offseason, futures contract. But other than that, man, I’m always ready. I’ve got a wonderful agent John Perez that’s always getting me opportunities. But other than that, you’ve just got to stay ready. I’m just training every day, keeping focus and trying to maintain and be healthy, as everybody should be.”
For more from Bahar, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox