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Highlights from Jonathan Ogden's Hall of Fame speech

Excerpts from Jonathan Ogden's Hall of Fame acceptance speech Saturday night in Canton, Ohio:

Thank you very much. Thank you very much, wow. Whew, batting leadoff, all right. First of all, I want to thank you, Ozzie for that fantastic introduction. I've often thought about that day back in 1996 when you drafted me instead of Lawrence Phillips, I think that worked out well for everybody. I'm very grateful being in Baltimore with you for all these years, particularly Baltimore selector, Scott Garceau, you guys have a difficult job. Every year it seems like the job gets tougher and tougher.

I'm just thankful to be here along with these other gentlemen, Larry, Cris, Warren, Bill, Curley and Dave, what a tremendous new class. To be up here with these luminary legends of the game, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with these guys is just unbelievable.

You know, as I thought about what I wanted to say to you today, one of the first things that I realized was that I've never really thought that my story was that interesting. I mean, I had great parents, went to great schools and had great friends, so I thought I'd just tell you a little bit about myself and what makes me, and what I think made me a Hall of Famer.

As I examine my career, I look back and I kind of say this is where it was supposed to end for me, but not because of arrogance or cockiness, but it's because I was taught lessons. Yes, I was blessed with tremendous God given talent, yes, but talent is isn't enough. A lot of people have talent, but they don't always live up to it.

For me, it's about trying to maximize every little bit you have. It's about trying to give it your all. If you strive for perfection, maybe, just maybe, you can become great. You don't just develop these habits naturally. These habits are instilled in you by people. Please allow me to take a few minutes to salute these people. Without these individuals and the things they taught me, I would not be here today.

The first two people I'd like to acknowledge are my grandmother Margie Sneed and my father Shirrel Phillip Ogden, both of whom have passed away in recent years. My grandmother was a very, very sweet woman. She would always tell me, Jonathan, you are special. S-P-E-C-I-A-L. She would always spell it out for me. It was probably one of the first words I knew how to spell as a kid. I didn't always know what she meant, but now I do; and grandma, I want to say thank you.

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.

My mother, Cassandra Ogden, is here today, and I'll start by saying, Mom, I love you tremendously and appreciate everything you've done for me. No matter what the situation, you were always there for me. There was never a football game that I didn't see and/or hear you screaming in the stands. I want to thank you so much for the emphasis that you and dad placed on education and your decision to send me to St. Alban's School. That was a great place for me. I got a great education, learned a thing for myself, and it's also where my football career really began.

***

All right. On to Baltimore. My goodness, where do I begin? Okay. First and foremost, I'm going to thank Mr. Art Modell. Without a doubt, one of the most generous and kindest individuals that I have ever met. 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. When there is no way you can tell the history of pro football without mentioning Art Modell, so hopefully one day we can get him here because of what he's meant to the league has been tremendous.

To Steve Bisciotti, I especially want to thank you for continuing on with that fantastic legacy. Being a fantastic owner and leader of one of the greatest organizations in the NFL. 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Thank you for allowing me to continue to be a part of an organization after retiring and awarding me with a 2013 Super Bowl ring. You, Dick Cass, Ozzie, Kevin Byrne, David Modell, Ed Carroll, Bill Tessendorf, Mark Smith and the entire Ravens staff have always treated me with class and dignity, and I thank you for that. I would also like to thank my Ravens coaches, Ted Marchibroda and Brian Billick.

Brian, we won a Super Bowl in 2000. You were the man who really helped extend my career by bringing the practice schedule that everyone's using today. You had the fore thought to see that you didn't have to beat your players to death in practice in order to play physical on Sunday.

***

Now the most important people in my life today, my lovely wife, Kema, who puts up with me and my constant golfing and me going to yoga and going right back to the golf course. She's always been a loving and supportive wife. You've always been there for me through all the ups and downs, babe, and I really appreciate that. Thank you.

To my son, Jayden, right there. You're it, buddy. You are my best little buddy in the world. You know that. You are my life. You are my shining star. You are my best friend, and I love you to death, little buddy. And to Mya, my 18 month old, she's a little too young to understand what's going on right now, but they're both great kids and I love them truly. It's my family that could not be here, Kaylee, my brother Marques, and to my family that is here, my grandfather, John Ogden, my uncle Andre Ogden, Steve and Lee, the rest of my cousins and family, I really love and appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you all.

***

And finally, I just really want to thank the fans and the city of Baltimore. When I came to Baltimore in 1996, we had no team, we had no history. We didn't even have team colors. We just had a name. I can remember at the draft I had that black jacket with the white letters that say Baltimore Ravens, and the white hat with the black letters that said Baltimore Ravens.

In the back of my mind I was saying I don't really know where we're going with this right now, but Ozzie who just drafted me assured me our goal is to make a winner here, and I told him I want to be a part of that.

When we got there, those first few years at Memorial Stadium, the Ravens were new to everybody. 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 there. It was for you, who at the end of the day, I enjoyed performing. And you guys are the reason that we could go out there every Sunday and lay it all on the line because we knew you appreciated everything that we did, and you appreciated everything that I did.

I am so very proud to have been the Baltimore Ravens first ever draft choice, and I am so humbled to be the Baltimore Ravens first ever Hall of Fame inductee. Thank you all, thanks.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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