Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Victor Ochi is chasing his dreams and history as he faces the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
NFL players spend years training, practicing, and watching tape for their careers. They strengthen their bodies and minds to handle brutal, fast-speed hits and play through injuries that seem “minor” to them, but can keep a person out of action and have long-term repercussions. Why do they play this beautifully violent game?
Super Bowl: Two words that have become synonymous with ultimate goal for NFL players. Their ultimate dream. A goal shared by thousands including Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Victor Ochi, on the final roster as they entered their matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round.
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If Ochi reaches the Super Bowl, however, he could make history. He would become the first Stony Brook University player to reach the big game. Will Tye had the chance to make the same bit of history, but fell short with the New York Giants. Now, two games separate Victor Ochi and the Super Bowl—two challenging games. However, Ochi is no stranger to obstacles standing in the way of his dreams.
He grew up watching Michael Strahan crush quarterbacks and dreamt of following in his success. However, his NFL dream wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t play college football and even that was close to not happening before Stony Brook University offered Ochi a full scholarship and a chance to play. They were the only school to do so.
At Stony Brook, Victor Ochi played his heart out while becoming the career leader in sacks (32 1⁄2) and tackles for loss (49). He also caught the eyes of several scouts with his speed, good hands, raw talent and ability to get to the quarterback.
The undersized 6-1, 246-pound linebacker went undrafted, but didn’t give up. Ochi spent training camp and the preseason with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent, recording five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. His two sacks occurred in the final two preseason games in Baltimore and included a strip sack on New Orleans Saints quarterback Garrett Grayson in Ochi’s last game.
After suffering a shoulder injury in the last preseason game, Ochi was cut by the Ravens. However, he was then signed to the New York Jets practice squad and eventually, their active roster before returning to their practice squad.
The Jets’ dismal 5-11 season wasn’t what Ochi, or any player, wanted and certainly wouldn’t have lead to a Super Bowl. However, when one door closes, another ones opens. And for Ochi, it wasn’t long before the Kansas City Chiefs came knocking.
The Kansas City Chiefs were interested in Victor Ochi during training camp but he signed with the Ravens. However, they kept their eyes on him. And when linebacker Dadi Nicolas’ season ended with a major knee injury, the Kansas City Chiefs called Ochi. And though he was inactive on Sunday night, he still has a big opportunity in front of him.
Victor Ochi has shown his ability to overcome obstacles in the way of his dreams. And now, he has the opportunity to make a dream shared by thousands, a reality. If he reaches the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, he would become the first player in school history to make it to the Super Bowl. Not bad for a rookie from Stony Brook!