It was a wonderful night for the first ever draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens, left tackle Jonathan Ogden, as he spoke to the crowd of more than 11,000 in Canton, Ohio on Saturday night.

Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun
Photo by: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun

The first home-grown talent to enter the halls as a Raven, Ogden spoke to the crowd in Canton for 13 minutes.

Never one to be flashy with his personality, Ogden at times almost seemed embarrassed at the attention received for his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thanking coaches, teammates friends and then family, where you could start to see the emotion welling up in Ogden.

“My father, I’m not going to cry here, my father, Shirrel Phillip Ogden, was absolutely the most influential person in my life. He was the guy I wanted to be like. He was the guy that I wanted to make proud. He is the absolute biggest influence on my life as far as the way I try to be a man and the way I try to raise my son and the primary reason why I decided to play football. I wish he could be here today. I know he’s looking down on this and he’s proud of me. He really was a special person, and I miss him. Thank you, Dad.”

Fate could have been much different had Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome selected standout talent (at the time) Lawrence Phillips from the University of Nebraska as the fourth overall pick instead of Ogden. It was a move that some criticized Newsome for because it wasn’t a flashy pick.

But the pick ended up becoming a position-defining move as Ogden became the premier left tackle (and tackle overall) in the NFL for his entire 12-year career with the Baltimore Ravens, named to eleven straight pro bowls and winning a Super Bowl ring with the franchise during the 2000 season.

Being the first pick on a team in a city starved for professional football like Baltimore was in 1996 had to be a daunting task for a kid born and raised just 50 miles south of Baltimore in Washington D.C. The adopted son, upon reflecting on his time in Baltimore, had nothing but glowing things to say about the Charm City.

“It was a new team and we were new to the city, we were all rookies together. I watched us grow, myself as a player and the fans as an NFL city from infancy to one of – if not the best – football towns in the National Football League, with undoubtedly the best and most passionate fans that I’ve ever seen, and I want to thank you guys for being that.”

The mutual respect and admiration both Ogden and Newsome have for each other is even more apparent now as J.O. enters the Hall, calling Ogden the, “foundation of the franchise.” Newsome further added, “if you’re taking a journey, the first steps are the most important steps you have to take, and taking Jonathan was our first step.”

Another ally Ogden had in the infant stages of Baltimore Ravens football was former owner, Art Modell. A man Ogden greatly respected and admired, Modell would always say hello and want to know how you were doing, not as a football player, but as a human being.

Ogden reflected back on Modell and took to the stump in trying to get his former owner selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I really wish he could be with me today. Someone once said to me, if you can’t tell the history of the game of football without mentioning this person, then they are without a doubt a Hall of Famer. Well there is no way you can tell the history of pro football without mentioning Art Modell.”

If there were ever one person that deserved to be the first Ravens selection to represent the organization in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, its Jonathan Ogden. His modesty, quiet but strong leadership qualities and appreciation of the sport and of both Ozzie Newsome and former owner, Art Modell are unmatched.

Congratulations to #75.