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Jonathan Ogden Voted Into Hall Of Fame

Posted Feb 2, 2013

The franchise’s first overall pick is the lifelong Raven to go into Canton.

Jonathan Ogden was the very first Raven.

Now he's the first full-blooded purple and black Raven to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ogden was named as a selection for the Hall of Fame Saturday, the day before Super Bowl XLVII, in which his former Ravens will face the 49ers.

He was sent through Canton's doors on his very first time on the ballot. Ogden is one of just five modern-era finalists voted to enter after the list was narrowed to 15. Ogden will be enshrined on Aug. 3 at the start of the NFL preseason.

Going in on the first try is a testament to the kind of dominance and impact Ogden had on the game. Since he retired after the 2007 season, it was thought that Ogden would probably be an immediate selection.

But Ogden was a bundle of nerves the night and minutes before the decision. He said a lot of people told him he would be a first-ballot nominee, but that there was "no chicken hatched yet."

Ogden paced around New Orleans' famous Bourbon Street at 3 a.m. Friday night trying to calm his nerves. He watched golf all day Saturday in anticipation of the announcement.

"That was the most stressful I've been in a while," Ogden said on the live NFL Network announcement from New Orleans. "It's like your wife is going to the hospital and you're having a baby. You're just sitting there."

Looking nervous is something new for Ogden. He hardly looked like he broke a sweat during his 12 seasons in the league.

"J.O. had a way of making it look real easy," said Ravens Director of Player Development Harry Swayne, a former tackle who played with Ogden.

"He was never in a game where he was struggling. Nobody ever made him do anything he didn't want to do. He played most of his games with a very mental approach. He's a smart guy. Because of that it looked like he wasn't trying real hard."

Ogden made 11 Pro Bowls and in large part redefined the position, bullying countless opponents along the way. Since Ogden entered the league, the left tackle position has gained notoriety as one of the most important on the field.

Ogden will go in with another offensive lineman, former Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen, another first-ballot selection. The other five 2013 members are wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Curley Culp, linebacker Dave Robinson, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and Head Coach Bill Parcells.

"Nothing happens without the big guys up front," Ogden said. "I take pride keeping my quarterback upright and making room for my running backs. We are the engine."

Ogden was drafted fourth overall by the Ravens in 1996. After six or seven years, Ogden said he felt he could be on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He said he was most impressed by his own consistency.

Ogden impressed many others along the way too, including his former teammate and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson. The two won a Super Bowl together in 2000.

"A big, tremendous athlete," Woodson said on the announcement show. "I would hope J.O. was one of those lock-in guys."

Woodson is one of two former players that suited up for the Ravens who are already in the Hall of Fame. The other is tight end Shannon Sharpe, who went in last year.

Ogden was a Baltimore guy through and through. He entered the league with linebacker Ray Lewis in 1996, and will now get a chance to watch Lewis play his final game on Super Bowl Sunday.

"It's kind of a full-circle weekend here," Ogden said. "It's going to be a surreal feeling. It will be one of the best moments of my life."

Ogden was mobbed by friends and family in the green room when the announcement was made. His first call went to his mother, who was watching T.V. and starting screaming.

Ogden walked out of the green room with a huge smile on his face, wearing sneakers, jeans and a black button-up shirt. Now he'll get a golden jacket to put over his shoulders.

The massive 6-foot-9, 345-pounder was asked what jacket size he'll need.

"Big," he simply said as he let one of his classic infectious giggles.

Carter and Sapp shed tears when they spoke of their induction. Ogden, in his typical cool way, just sat back and smiled.

“You are amongst the greatest players in the history of the game," Ogden said. "That is so breathtaking. My feet aren't touching the ground – and I’m a heavy dude."

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