A day before his official Hall of Fame induction, Jonathan Ogden had already had the opportunity to meet Earl Campbell, pose for a picture with Joe Greene and Joe Namath and exchange battle stories with fellow offensive linemen Jackie Slater, Art Shell and Russ Grimm.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Ogden, who will be officially presented with his gold jacket in a ceremony tonight. “It’s busy. I’m doing a lot of talking, which I haven’t done in a while. I’ve enjoyed it. I’m definitely soaking it all in. One of 280 guys. That’s amazing. You realize it is kind of a blur and a dream, really.”
Still, Ogden admitted that the nerves of having to give a speech Saturday night, something he’s been dreading, has been on his mind all day. Ogden will be the first of the seven inductees to be presented tomorrow at Fawcett Stadium and Ravens general manager and fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome will do the honors.
“Hey man, I liken it to just yanking the Band-Aid off real quick. Just get it over with,” he said. “I’ve never been that guy who wants to sit here in front of you guys or talk about myself in particular. I got a lot of people I have to thank. I’m glad I’m leading off. That way, I’ll get it done and I can enjoy everyone else’s speech and listen to what they have to say and not worry about mine.”
Ogden, who hates the spotlight, said that he still has a couple of edits to do in his speech, but he is confident that he’ll be ready to go when it's time. He said he won’t talk much about himself and he plans to take the time to thank all the people who helped him along the way. One of those people will be former Ravens owner Art Modell.
“Art is extremely important,” Ogden said. “You can’t talk about pro football without mentioning Art Modell’s name. For me, the only thing that would have made it more perfect in New Orleans would be the Ravens winning [the Super Bowl], I go in and Art goes in. But he didn’t and I’m going to make sure people know how I felt about him. He really was one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and hopefully one day, he’ll be in.”
Ogden also spoke highly of Newsome, who made the massive left tackle the team’s first-ever pick in the 1996 draft.
“After my father had passed, he was definitely the guy who I know and respect and who knows me both as a person and as a football player,” Ogden said. “There are other people who might know me a little better maybe as a person, my family. But I think Ozzie embodies everything I’m looking for as a presenter. Our relationship has been strong the last 17 years.”
Current Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome, team president Dick Cass, senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne and vice president of corporate sales and business development Kevin Rochlitz traveled here Friday to be part of the festivities. Several of Ogden’s former teammates, including Ray Lewis, Harry Swayne, Kyle Richardson, Brad Jackson and Larry Webster are also expected to attend tomorrow’s induction ceremony.
“It’s family,” Ogden said. “It kind of speaks to how the organization takes care of its own. I’ve been there from Day One. I’m glad they are here for me. I’m ecstatic because Steve has been a great owner, Ray Lewis has been a great teammate and friend. Everyone in the organization, from Dick Cass to Kevin Byrne, they’ve been great to me over the years. I’m glad I’ll be able to share that moment with them.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun