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Byrne Identity: Up Close With Ravens First Hall Of Famer Jonathan Ogden

Posted Sep 25, 2015

Twenty questions and answers with Jonathan Ogden in honor of the Ravens’ 20th season anniversary.

Up Close With Ravens First Hall Of Famer Jonathan Ogden

We were on the clock. It was the first draft in Ravens history, and we had the fourth pick in the first round.

“You OK with what we talked about?” Ozzie Newsome asked owner Art Modell.

“It’s your call. I trust you,” Art said as he put his arm around Newsome, who was sitting next to him.

“There might be some clamoring about it,” the Wizard added.

I know what my thoughts were, “Please don’t make Lawrence Phillips the first true Raven. Come on Oz, we don’t need that headache.”

Newsome turned to then-personnel assistant Eric Mangini, who was on the phone to New York and our draft reps, “Tell them to write down Jonathan Ogden, tackle, UCLA.”

Thank you, Ozzie.

How’s that for the initial selection in our history – the guy who became our first Hall of Fame player.

Ogden is one of the top 10 players in Ravens history, as selected by our season ticket holders. “J.O.” will be our Legend of the Game at our regular-season home opener on Sunday. He answered 20 questions as part of a salute to our 20th season. Here they are:

Your reaction to being drafted by the Ravens…

“My first was, ‘Who are the Ravens? Who’s that? Who do they have?’ On stage they gave me a little jacket and a little hat that had no design on it. We had no mascot. It was very interesting. I remembered visiting with them, but they had good young tackles, and I didn’t think they were serious.”

Jonathan Ogden, Hall of Famer…

“It does have nice ring to it. (laughing) I mean, I know it’s true, but it’s one of those things like you ask, ‘Did I dream this?’ It’s kind of unbelievable. But it really has been a heck of a ride, being a Hall of Famer, and representing Baltimore. It’s nice.”

What was your ‘This is the NFL’ moment?

“It was probably playing Green Bay in the preseason my rookie year. Gilbert Brown, I remember, he basically just threw me to the ground, which had never happened to me before. So, that was kind of like, ‘Hello, rookie! This is what it’s like.’”

While at St. Albans in Washington D.C., were you ever challenged physically?

(Laughing) “No, not really. Certainly not as a junior or senior. Maybe as a sophomore. I was 6-foot-7 and over 300 pounds as a junior and senior.”

Were you a good student?

“I was challenged there. I had been pretty much all A’s until I got there. It got a little tougher.”

Jonathan Ogden is frugal…

“That’s pretty accurate. (laughing) Frugal is not being cheap. Frugal is just being smart, to me.”

You’re a prolific reader, including lots of science fiction when you were a Raven. Do you believe in aliens?

“That’s a complicated question that deserves a complicated answer. Short answer is yes; I actually do.”

Do you talk to yourself?

“Well, I play golf, so yes.” Senior Tour someday? “Oh man, would I love that, but it’s a tough, tough, humbling game.”

What makes you smile?

“Our children, Jayden and Mia. Without a doubt … and some golf.”

A perfect day for Jonathan Ogden…

“Wow, it would involve the kids, some sort of fishing and golf.”

Art Modell…

“Classy and one of the nicest persons I’ve ever met. He’s the Godfather of Ravens football.”

Brian Billick…

“Just a great coach. My favorite pro coach.”

Orlando “Zeus” Brown…

“A great guy. My brother. He died too soon. He was not fully understood or appreciated by everyone, but he was a really good-hearted person.”

Favorite author?

“I’ve read so many. Let’s keep it simple, James Patterson. I like his ‘Women’s Murder Club’ mysteries. I like Stuart Woods’ books on Stone Barrington. I like Anita Blake. … I like so many.”

Favorite TV show?

“‘MasterChef.’ My son and I love to watch the way Gordon Ramsey rips into people. It’s a fun show.”

Your most memorable Ravens game?

“The Super Bowl. How could it not be? Others come to mind. … No, it’s the Super Bowl.”

Team you love to beat…


Best place to win on the road… “Tennessee.”

What does it mean to be a Raven?

“That you’re part of an organization that knows how to go out and do the right things. Once you’re part of it, you don’t want to let someone down. It’s about being first-class. It’s about being a true professional. Everyone in the building is like that. I like to think I had a little part in all of that.”

The phrase, “Run the damn ball.”

(Chuckling) “Guess the camera caught me a couple of times yelling that and throwing my helmet. Maybe I did it four or five times a season. Linemen love to run the ball. It had something to do with how well, or not well, we were passing the ball at the time.”

Where will you be in five and then in 10 years?

“In five, probably still in Las Vegas, trying to do some good work in the community and really enjoying my kids and what they’ll be doing. 

“Oh goodness, they’ll be 15 and 8. Ten years, I don’t know. Maybe coaching of some sort, who knows? There’s a world of opportunity out there.”

Good stuff from the big man. Jonathan will be at M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday as our “Legend of the Game.” We earned some good wins over the Bengals when he was our left tackle. Maybe he’ll add some karma to a Ravens’ victory.

Let’s beat the Bengals.

Talk with you next week,


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