Ravens fan Robert Radawiec moved to Cleveland a decade ago, but he had never made the 45-minute drive to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That changed this weekend not only for him, but for so many other Ravens fans who descended on this northeastern Ohio city to welcome in one of their own. Left tackle Jonathan Ogden became the first player the Ravens drafted to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I've never had a reason to go," said Radawiec, who wore purple camouflaged pants and a Ravens polo shirt. "Now, I do."
About four hours before the ceremony, Robert was outside Fawcett Stadium with Larry and Tim Radawiec, his uncle and cousin, respectively. Tim Radawiec wore an autographed Ogden jersey, held up a life-sized sign of the player's face, wore Ravens shoes and showed off the tattoo of the team logo that he had on his leg.
"It was announced on the Saturday before the Super Bowl that he was going in, and by Sunday morning at 7:30, I was already on the phone calling the Hall of Fame," said Tim Radawiec, a Sparrows Point resident. "I wasn't going to wait for none of those [travel] packages. I wanted to make sure I had my tickets."
About 50 yards away from where the Radawiecs stood and awaited the start of the ceremony, Baltimore resident Dana Weckenesser sat on the curb with her husband, Scott Guthrie. She wore a purple wig and a Ray Lewis jersey and waved a stuffed likeness of the Ravens' mascot in the air.
Guthrie said they wanted to be here this weekend because Ogden is the first Raven to play his entire career in Baltimore to be inducted. Not only did he say that Ogden's "records speak for themselves," but he had met Ogden before and he appreciated the way the offensive lineman carried himself off the field.
Ogden spent a significant part of his speech, which lasted 13 minutes and 35 seconds, thanking the fans, who he called "undoubtedly the best and most passionate fans that I've ever seen, and I want to thank you guys for being there."
To Greg Lamp, a longtime Ravens fan who wore an Ogden jersey to the ceremony, it was an easy decision to make the weekend trip to Canton.
"As soon as I found out Ogden was in, I knew I was coming," said Lamp, who brought along his 10-year-old son, Joey. "He's the first Raven in. We were denied for so long."
Opening door for Lewis, Reed
Ogden doesn't think too far ahead, but he did say that he'd certainly be back in Canton next year for the Hall of Fame festivities. He isn't sure if he'll go every year after that, but you can expect him to be back in 2018. That's the year his former teammate, Ray Lewis, is expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Ogden thanked several teammates including Lewis, who attended the ceremony, and former Ravens safety Ed Reed.
"To Ray Lewis and to Ed Reed, both of who will be here, five years from now, and whenever Ed retired," Ogden said. "What tremendous times we had playing with and for one another."
Former Colt Berry 'in category by myself'
After a standout 13-year career with the Baltimore Colts, wide receiver Raymond Berry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973. He has been returning to Canton regularly since, but don't ask him how many times he's been back.
"I have no idea," Berry said. "At this particular stage of my life, I'm hard dealing with numbers. The only one I really know is 8-0 because that's how [old] I am right now."
Berry certainly hasn't lost his sense of humor or his fond memories of his time with the Colts. Speaking to a small group of reporters Friday, Berry told a few Art Donovan stories, talked about the tireless post-practice work with quarterback Johnny Unitas that helped develop the pair's great chemistry, and discussed his role in the development of Lenny Moore.
The trips down memory lane are constant for Berry during Hall of Fame weekend.
"The thing that draws you back here is getting to see all these guys," he said. "I was looking around the room today, and I think I'm in a category by myself. I played against a bunch of them, I coached against a bunch of them. You're talking over a 30-year span. I coached 25 years, I played 13. I'm not good on numbers, but it's getting close to 40 years. That's a lot of people that I had contact with one way or another and so many of them are in that room. … My computer gets on total overload here. By the time I get home, I have to lay down and rest for a week."
Ozzie meets Tiger
It was already shaping up to be a memorable weekend for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome before he stepped on the elevator in his hotel Saturday. Excited to spend the weekend with fellow Hall of Famers, along with welcoming his first-ever Ravens draft pick into the Hall of Fame, Newsome looked up and quickly realized that he was in impressive athletic company.
Golfer Tiger Woods, who was playing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in nearby Akron, was with him on the elevator Friday.
The two exchanged pleasantries, and later that day, Woods tied a career-best round with a 9-under-par-61 to take a commanding lead into the weekend.
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