NEW ORLEANS — Others to play for the Baltimore Ravens have walked through the doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden is the first to say he played his entire career with the organization.
The first draft selection in the history of the franchise in 1996 and regarded as the original Raven, Ogden was inducted into Canton in his first year of eligibility on Saturday evening in New Orleans, a day before the Ravens prepared to play in their second Super Bowl. The 6-foot-9 offensive lineman played 12 seasons in Baltimore and was named to 11 Pro Bowls as he was regarded to be the best left tackle in the NFL for a large portion of his career. Only four offensive linemen in NFL history — Bruce Matthews, Randall McDaniel, Jim Otto, and Will Shields — earned more Pro Bowl nods in their careers.
“With the Ravens here in New Orleans and me being the original draft pick of the Ravens, I just want to thank the city of Baltimore, the fans, Ozzie Newsome, who was tremendous,” Ogden said. “Hopefully, I get a chance to go out there on that field [Sunday] and see Ray Lewis play in his last game while I get to go into the Hall of Fame while he’s playing in the Super Bowl.”
Ogden was a key member of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV championship as he was the anchor of an offensive line for a dominating running game that featured rookie running back Jamal Lewis. He was also named to ten All-Pro teams and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.
He was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2008 and no player has worn his No. 75 since he retired following the 2007 season.
“I got a chance to be the first Raven, the chance to start an organization, and to start a new fan base because a lot of those guys didn’t even know the Colts,” Ogden said. “It was really just a tremendous opportunity, and our town has grown to become the best in the NFL. We’ve got the best fans in the NFL in Baltimore.”
The offensive tackle chose to retire in part because of a toe injury that hampered him over the final year of his career. He ranks third in all-time games played by a Ravens player (177) and is second in games started (176).
Ogden spent his rookie season playing the left guard position before sliding outside to left tackle for the final 11 seasons of his career.
“Preparing for the pass rush on the left side was never an issue,” former Ravens coach Brian Billick said of his longtime left tackle. “It didn’t take any meeting time. We’d start game-planning with: ‘OK, we’ll run behind J.O. and slide our protection to the right side.’”
Ogden was joined in the Class of 2013 by wide receiver Cris Carter, guard Larry Allen, lineman Curly Culp, head coach Bill Parcells, linebacker Dave Robinson, and defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Culp and Robinson were seniors committee selections while Allen and Sapp joined Ogden as inductees in their first year of eligibility.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 1996 draft joins defensive back Rod Woodson, cornerback Deion Sanders, and tight end Shannon Sharpe as members of the Hall of Fame to have played for the Ravens, but Ogden is the first of that group to spend his entire career in Baltimore. He remains beloved in Baltimore and will be on hand for Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.
That first draft produced Ogden and Lewis, who will play his final NFL game on Sunday and undoubtedly join Ogden in the Hall of Fame five years from now.
“His size gave you the confidence that we could run the world,” Lewis said in a statement released by the team. “His passion was the reason for his dominance. I was drafted with one of the best of all time, and no one deserves this honor more. He’s the first drafted Raven, and now he’s our first Hall of Famer.”
Former Ravens owner Art Modell did not make the final 10 and missed induction. He was also a finalist for Canton in 2001 and a semifinalist in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.