Ohio State will be represented at Super Bowl XL on Sunday in Detroit as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Seattle Seahawks.
Former OSU defensive end Rodney Bailey will be on the field Sunday as a backup defensive end for the Seahawks. Bailey, who played at OSU from 1997-2000, will actually be lined up against his former team, the Steelers, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft.
“I look at them as a great team,” Bailey said by telephone from Super Bowl media day at Ford Field. “They worked hard to get here as have we. I have some ties over there. I have a lot of friends over there. I think that will make it a great atmosphere for me.”
The Seahawks were the top seed in the NFC this season. But many pundits suggest the Steelers, an AFC wild card team, should be the favorite for this game.
“For me, personally, I do not look at the TV or what’s being written about us,” Bailey said. “I just look at them as another team we have to play. We just have to prepare hard for it.”
Bailey is in his fifth year as a professional. He admitted it is exciting to be on the game’s greatest stage.
“It is very exciting,” Bailey said. “It is an honor and a privilege to be here. The main thing I think about is there are a lot of players I grew up watching from the time I was 4 years old and they did not get the opportunity to play in this game. This is something I’m going to cherish.”
Bailey, who prepped at Lakewood St. Edward in the Cleveland area, said he keeps tabs on Ohio State. He never played for Jim Tressel, but did play for current defensive coordinator/line coach Jim Heacock during his four years with the Buckeyes.
“Being way out in the Pacific Northwest, I have been excited to put on the TV on Saturday when I can and watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play,” said Bailey, who graduated from OSU in 3-1/2 years with a degree in communications. “They had a great season. We talk college football all the time in the locker room. I am very proud of Ohio State.”
The 26-year-old Bailey has played in 56 NFL games over five years. He has amassed 58 tackles and 9-1/2 sacks.
Bailey, now listed at 6-3, 305 pounds, spent his first three seasons as a pro with the Steelers. His best year was 2002, when he had 24 tackles and 5-1/2 sacks. He moved to New England prior to the 2004 season when the Steelers declined to match an offer sheet from the Patriots. But he was lost for the year and never played a down for the Pats in 2004 because of a torn Achilles’ tendon.
He latched on with Seattle in early September and was activated at midseason. He was active for the last eight games, notching 13 tackles and a forced fumble.
Throughout college, Bailey was a very intense player who highly improved over the years for the Buckeyes. He started 34 games for the Buckeyes and finished his college career with 17-1/2 sacks.
His best year was as a senior and the team's co-captain and Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. He registered 31 tackles, 13 tackles for losses, eight sacks, and 4 batted-down passes. He was voted by his teammates as Co-Most Inspirational Player at the end of his senior year. Even as a freshman he had played in every game, starting four.
EDITOR'S NOTE -- Thanks to photo correspondent Terry Gilliam for arranging this interview from the Super Bowl media day event.