NEW ORLEANS - Jonathan Ogden did what a lot of tourists do on a free Friday night in New Orleans. The restless Ogden walked up and down Bourbon Street until early Saturday morning.
Ogden was nervous about his chances to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He need not have been. Ogden was one of seven selected for induction. Former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell was not.
The first draft choice in team history, Ogden becomes the first Ravens player to make the Hall though Rod Woodson, who played four seasons with the team, is already a member.
Ogden and fellow first-time finalists Larry Allen and Warren Sapp joined Cris Carter and Bill Parcells as well as senior candidates Curley Culp and Dave Robinson in this year's class.
"It's going to be one of the highlights of my life," Ogden said. "It would really have been really great if Art would have gotten in."
Modell was one of five finalists who didn't make the initial cut from 15 to 10 in the voting. Edward DeBartolo, who owned the San Francisco 49ers when they won five Super Bowls joined Modell, who died last September at 87, in not making the final 10.
There was lots of sentiment for Modell. "They are doing Art Modell dirty," tweeted Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams were the five who didn't make the final cut.
Hall of Fame selectors who spoke on the NFL Network's announcement program said the debates about this year's candidates were particularly heated because of the high quality of the choices.
Many fans thought that because of Modell's death and the Ravens presence in the Super Bowl, the late owner's chances were enhanced. That was not enough.
Ogden, was the fourth player selected in the 1996 draft. The left tackle played 12 seasons, and was a Pro Bowl selection in every year but his first. He made the All-Pro team 10 times and played 177 games, third most in team history.
"I am so proud that Jonathan is the Ravens' first Hall of Famer. My pride also extends to Ozzie [Newsome], because his first-ever draft pick became our first-ever Hall of Famer," Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti said.
Newsome, the Ravens' general manager said: "Simply put, I've never seen a player better at his position than Jon was at his."
Ogden, who provides pre-game commentary on Ravens' radio broadcasts, is excited about the team's success and also that he gets to see Ray Lewis, who was drafted later in the first round in 1996, play in his final game.
"I'll be like, 'Man, how did you last 17 years?' I had a long career, obviously, a good enough, Hall of Fame-worthy career, and he's still out there going, and obviously he'll be in here as soon as he's eligible as well," Ogden said. "But it will be really just a surreal, just an absolutely exciting moment."
Twelve years ago, Ogden and Lewis played on the first Ravens Super Bowl team.
"We both came in in '96, started the Ravens together and kind of a full-circle weekend here," Ogden said.
Lewis, who will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in 2018 praised his former teammate.
"He is a gentle giant, but a great competitor. His skill set was not matched by any player I've seen in my 17 years. As a teammate, it was one of the greatest pleasures to walk beside him. His size gave you the confidence that we could run the world. His passion was the reason for his dominance. I was drafted with one of the best of all time, and no one deserves this honor more," Lewis said.
Ogden, who is 6-foot-9 and played at 345 lbs., said he hadn't decided on his presenter, but joked that his jacket size was "big."
After passing Saturday by watching golf, Ogden said he was relieved.
"A lot of good, well-deserving guys did not get in on their first ballot, so I was just kind of like of the mindset, my resume is done. I did everything I could do, so no matter what happens, positive or negative, I was going to be happy either way," he said.