Pro Football Hall of Fame: Baltimore Ravens’ Jonathan Ogden All Alone

Aug 8, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Jonathan Ogden during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Jonathan Ogden during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Eight of the NFL’s greatest will join the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. We look back at Jonathan Ogden, the only player in Baltimore Ravens’ history to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

There is a lot to look forward to this weekend. Not only is there finally a NFL football game to watch, but eight NFL icons will join the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, Marvin Harrison, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel will accompany the greatest to play the game. It is the second straight year eight players will join the exclusive fraternity and there is no doubting that each is deserving of the honor.

Favre will steal the show. He is the grittiest player to ever lace his boots and the cheeseheads always travel well. Favre will be the first quarterback to be the enshrined since Troy Aikman and Warren Moon in 2006. That is surprisingly considering how quarterbacks get all the attention.

Offensive linemen do not get a lot of attention. It is not often that they receive the notoriety to become Hall of Famers. However, Pace was herald as one of the best to enter the NFL Draft and he backed up the St. Louis Rams’ decision with the first overall pick in the 1997 draft.

Pace helped pave the way for the Rams Super Bowl win in his third second in the league. He was one of the most dominant left tackles in his 13 seasons in the game, and has seven Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections. Kurt Warner and ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ was able to be effective because Pace kept Warner’s blindside clean.

But while I give Pace credit for living up to his draft status, let me give the Baltimore Ravens credit for hitting a home run for making Jonathan Ogden the first ever pick in franchise history, and then the face of the franchise in that same draft.

There were two constants in every Ravens game: Ray Lewis bringing the heat on defense and Ogden paving the way for some of the best rushing offenses at that time.

Pace garnered plenty of accolades, but Ogden is in rare company in the record books. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 11 consecutive seasons from 1997-2007, which ties for the fourth-most Pro Bowl appearances in NFL history. He also was named an All-Pro 10 times and the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team with Pace.

What set Ogden apart from his peers is his size at 6-foot-9 and 345 pounds. A man of his size should not have the footwork and athletic ability to be a natural at his position. What few people know about Ogden is that he won a shot put championship while at UCLA that made him eligible for the Olympic trials.

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That is the kind of power we saw every Sunday when he would push defenders out of his way. He was tenacious in run blocking, and still had the finesse to shield off the best pass rushers. He took an opposing team’s best pass rusher and swallowed them up for an entire game.

The left side of the offensive line was a brick wall for 12 seasons, regardless of the revolving door at quarterback. Whether it was Head Coach John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, Vinny Testaverde, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Tony Banks, Kyle Boller, or Steve McNair, Ogden was there to keep them upright.

Ogden retired after the 2007 season, the same offseason where the Ravens used their first-round pick on a guy named Joe Flacco.

Ogden was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and the man who drafted him, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, presented him at his ceremony. Baltimore debated between Ogden and Nebraska running back Lawrence Philips, and to say they made the right choice is an understatement.

“I don’t know any left tackle that played the position better than Jonathan Ogden,” Newsome said. “He’s part of the foundation of this franchise, part of the reason why we have two Super Bowl wins here. 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.”

Ozzie is hopeful that this year’s top choice, Ronnie Stanley, will become the most dominant offensive tackle of this era. There will never be another Ogden, but 20 years ago when the Ravens drafted an offensive tackle so high in the draft, it was the best move in franchise history. Maybe they get the same fortune two decades later.

Two more Baltimore icons will get into the Hall once eligible. Lewis and Ed Reed set the standard at their respective positions and should be first-ballot members. Lewis is eligible in 2018, and we will have to wait until 2020 for Reed.

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Ogden knows his teammates will ultimately join him in Canton, but he will always be the Ravens’ first.

“I am so very proud to have been the Baltimore Ravens first-ever draft choice,” Ogden said during his Hall of Fame speech. “And I am so humbled to be the Baltimore Ravens first-ever Hall of Fame inductee.”