This past week, former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was present in Dallas, taking in the moment of yet another Super Bowl.
And over the weekend, yet another group of former NFL players were inducted into Canton’s prestigious group of Hall of Famers, including the likes of former Ravens teammates Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders as 2011 members.
The eventual Hall of Famer joined WNST in Dallas to talk about where he’s at in his post playing career, and maybe preparing to taking those same steps as his former teammates in Sanders and Sharpe.
“I am a happy man,” Ogden told WNST. “I am happy and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I feel like I did what I had to do. I can say that that I’m one of few people who played their entire career on just one team, got a Super Bowl ring, and actually feel like I fulfilled what I was doing out there.”
Ogden was the original Raven-drafted by Baltimore in the team’s first ever draft in 1996. Taken fourth overall, the UCLA grad and 1995 Outland Trophy winner was not only asked to be the foundation of the team’s offensive line, but a franchise as a whole.
The situation almost wasn’t meant to be, as both sides-Ogden and the Ravens-werent expected to be joining forces.
When Ogden entered the Draft, both Ogden and the experts said that they didn’t expect the tackle to fall to the fourth spot where Baltimore was drafting.
And a lot of the experts expected the Ravens to take Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips, who later fell out of the league and into prison for off the field issues.
But ultimately the two sides found each other and the rest is history.
“I had no control,” Ogden said. “It wasn’t in my hands. It was really funny, because I remember being in the green room in New York at the draft. Everyone was saying ‘You’re going to Arizona, you’re going to the Cardinals,’ and the phone rings in the green room. Keyshawn Johnson got drafted first, Kevin Hardy second, and the guy picks it up from the NFL, and I’m ready to get up. All of a sudden, he goes Simeon Rice, and I was like ‘Oh wow, they’re not going to take me?'”
But he then found himself knowing that he was going to be in a good situation with the Ravens despite them choosing him.
“It was amazing when Baltimore called my name,” Ogden said.
Ogden went on to play 12 seasons in a Baltimore uniform, making the Pro Bowl 11 times and being named a first or second team All-Pro eight times.
And the Super Bowl championship in 2000 made the Ogden’s time in Baltimore that much more sweeter.
“That was a great day in Baltimore history right there down in Tampa ten years ago,” Ogden said.
Ogden does have the ring on his finger, but he also continues to have the lingering pain of several playoff losses to the Colts and Steelers as well as some occasional flare-up from the toe injury that cut his career short.
“My toe to this day still hurts,” Ogden said. “I can go out and play golf, I can jog, but I can’t run. I’m like Deion complaining about our toes.”
“When we were playing Cleveland in ’06, the last game of the year, Quinn Sypniewski, our tight end at the time, got blown up by Willie McGinest on the goal line, and my foot was in the air. They both came down on the back of my heel, and I basically tore 90 percent of the ligaments under my big toe.”
“I remember I got ready, we had the bye, and I played in the playoff game against the Colts with the shot up toe. I couldn’t feel it, and had we won that game, I probably would not have been able to play the next week. I couldn’t walk for nearly a month.”
That next year, he knew his time in a Ravens uniform-and an NFL uniform as a whole-was coming to an end because of the toe injury.
“What happened my last year, I missed training camp because I was trying to rehab. Every game I’d have to either get a shot or I’d been getting treatment so much I could barely practice. It always hurt when I was out there. I was hurting all the time, and when you’re hurting all the time, it’s no fun. It’s time to go.”
Already having the Super Bowl ring and leaving at the top of his game helped make his decision that much easier.
“I still have residual pain, my neck still cracks all the time, my shoulders are a little sore, but considering how long I played-twelve years-I have never had a surgery and should’ve have the toe cut on a few years earlier, I consider myself pretty lucky for how I feel having done it so long at that level.”
But Ogden said that it’s the great players in this league who feel that way at the end of their careers. In other words, a healthy NFL player at the end of their career most likely isn’t playing at a Hall of Fame level not putting their body on the line for their team.
“If you want to be successful, you’ve got to have those guys that are willing to go out there and play through the pain, because you’re always going to be in pain when you’re out there. You think Ray Lewis doesn’t hurt? You might not know it here when he gives his interviews and talks, but Ray Lewis hurts you know.”
“He gets himself in great shape, he works out, he gets treatment, and he’s ready to go every Sunday, but he’s out there in pain-trust me.”
And while Ogden may be in pain right now and may not be able to sprint a lick right now, all of Baltimore hopes he can make the walk to the podium in Canton when he is eligible for the Class of 2013.
“I will be most likely,” Ogden said about being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “You know maybe around the fifth or sixth Pro Bowl, but thank goodness that toe was year twelve, not year two. You mention us in the same breath as Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Anthony Munoz, it’s overwhelming.”
WNST hopes to talk to Ogden again when he hopefully is inducted into the Hall of Fame two years from now! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!