Commentary: Finally time to look at Ogden

Jonathan Ogden never really wanted anyone looking at him.

That's rare these days. We're a look-at-me society that revels in detailing every small triumph, complete with photos and videos, for all to see on the Internet. The most obvious manifestation of the look-at-me mentality comes in pro sports, notably the famous dance done by Ogden's former teammate Ray Lewis.


Ogden, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, never needed to be looked at, knowing full well that the only time offensive linemen are noticed is after a holding penalty or getting beaten for a sack.

Neither of those happened much during Ogden's 12 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He was the team's first draft pick. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler and, more impressive, a nine-time All-Pro.


You probably don't picture in your mind's eye what he was doing on any long run by Jamal Lewis or any touchdown pass to Todd Heap, but you can be sure he had something to do with pretty much every memorable offensive play the Ravens managed during his tenure.

He was the one springing Lewis or giving Kyle Boller enough time to find Heap. (Just imagine how bad the Ravens' quarterbacks would've been over that span had they been constantly worried about taking hits from their blind side).

"I always felt like I gave my all, and I was always consistent out there," Ogden said during a recent conference call. "I think that's kind of what led me to become a great player. This game is about consistency at the end of the day.

"I just want to be remembered as the guy who was dependable, who was a good teammate, who didn't go out there and make silly mistakes."

For many years, he was about the only dependable player on the Ravens' offense. And he was as consistent as anyone who's ever played in the NFL.

Ogden did his job, game after game, year after year, without fanfare. Without a need for attention. He would lock up with - and frustrate - the best pass rushers in the game, but he never felt the need to do any dancing.

Well, other than those Gebco commercials.

Ogden was massive, at 6-foot-9 and 345 pounds, and ridiculously strong. He was also surprisingly nimble with textbook footwork.

Because of all of the above, he probably never got enough credit for his intellect. But Ogden, thoughtful in the locker room when answering questions after games, was as smart as anyone on the team. He noted during the conference call that intelligence is an asset for an offensive lineman.

"The smarter you are, the less hesitation you have in what you're going to do, the better football player you're going to be," he said. "I always prided myself on never hesitating, because I always knew my assignment."

Ogden is in the Ravens' Ring of Honor and he most assuredly holds down either the first or second spot on the team's Mount Rushmore.

His significance to the Ravens can not be overstated. He was the team's first draft pick after moving to Baltimore - a better choice than Lawrence Phillips, huh? - and he was as responsible as any player on the team for four playoff appearances under Brian Billick and the Super Bowl XXXV title.


He could've played a few more years. Even old and slowed by foot injuries, he was better than most tackles in the NFL. But unlike so many who hang on too long, he left when he knew he was no longer the player he used to be.

He was always about "team" rather than "me," which, along with his considerable talents, helped him become the rare offensive lineman who is beloved by his team's fans.

And on Saturday, unlike for most of his Hall of Fame career, Ogden was finally, deservedly, the one everyone was looking at.

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