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Even in Retirement, Haloti Ngata Looks Back Fondly on Breaking Ben Roethlisberger's Nose


Haloti Ngata made a lot of big plays during his 13-year career. From 2006-2018, he was the NFL's only defensive tackle to record at least 30 sacks and five interceptions.

But what was Ngata's favorite play of his career?

"Breaking Ben's nose," he said with a chuckle during Wednesday's press conference, in which he officially ended his career as a Raven. "I didn't do it on purpose but it kind of just happened."

Ngata was drafted as a Raven, and that answer certainly shows that he was and always will be a Raven at heart despite playing in Detroit and Philadelphia to end his career.

The well-known play happened in 2010 when Ngata bulldozed his way into the Steelers' backfield and threw up his massive right paw. He didn't mean it, but he clubbed Roethlisberger inside his facemask. Roethlisberger's nose was visibly bent with blood running down as he walked off the field. The strike was so powerful that X-rays revealed nose bones that "looked like corn flakes" and required surgery.

Ngata told "The Lounge" podcast that he never spoke to Roethlisberger about the hit. Their trips to the Pro Bowl didn't overlap. Jokingly told that Roethlisberger may still hold a grudge, Ngata laughed and said he wouldn't care if he did.

Ngata was a dominant player throughout his career, and especially in Baltimore. He was the Ravens' first-round pick (No. 12 overall) in 2006, and a key part of some of Baltimore's greatest defenses.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said it took watching only 20 plays of Ngata's college film at Oregon to realize that he was a special player. Newsome hates giving up draft picks, but he surrendered a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to move up one spot and select Ngata.

Ngata joined a defense with greats such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Adalius Thomas, Bart Scott, Trevor Pryce and more. He said he instantly knew Baltimore was a place where he could "maximize" his unique talents.

"For me, I couldn't do anything but follow our leaders," Ngata said. "They definitely helped me become a great player."

Ngata went to five Pro Bowls during his nine years as a Raven. While some of the other defensive leaders around him got more spotlight, the soft-spoken gentle giant (off the field) made them all look good too by keeping blockers away.

His hard work, gritty play and humble personality gained immense respect from his teammates, coaches and fans.

That humility was very evident Wednesday as he was honored. He said everything people love about him, he got from his parents, who both tragically died before he ever stepped onto an NFL field. He said he simply followed the other defensive leaders around him. He credited Clarence Brooks, his former Ravens defensive line coach who passed away from cancer in 2016, with teaching him his craft and being a father figure.

Ngata was beloved by everyone that knew him, and it was evident by the attendance at Wednesday's press conference. Dozens of family members and friends, as well as former teammates, came to celebrate with Ngata. It was a standing-room only event.

Ngata was traded to the Lions in 2015 when he and the Ravens could not agree on a pay cut. It was a tough business decision, one that "shocked" Ngata but that he also understood from a business perspective. But there certainly were no hard feelings.

Even then, in the wake of the trade, he told Newsome he wanted to finish as a Raven one day. Four years later, the Ravens and Ngata made it happen. And in 2020, Ngata will go into the Ravens' Ring of Honor presented by Meritage Jewelers.

"I'm so excited to retire a Raven and be a part of this community again," Ngata said. "I'll definitely be back more often. I love being a Raven."

From Oregon to Baltimore and beyond, check out the career of former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

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