Jonathan Ogden never liked being front-and-center. He was never one to talk too much or thrust himself into the spotlight.
His humility is as defining as his hulking 6-foot-9 stature.
That modesty and gratitude were on full display Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, as the dominant left tackle delivered an introspective speech during his enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"I've never really thought my story was that interesting," Ogden said near the start of his 13-minute speech.
Ogden remained composed and flashed a big smile throughout his speech, where he spent most of his time thanking the people that helped him throughout his life. Ogden talked about his family, friends, teammates and coaches, and the first-ever draft pick in Ravens history also made a special point to call attention to the fans of Baltimore.
"It was a new team and we were new to the city," Ogden said. "We were all rookies together. I watched us grow, myself as a player and the fans as an NFL city from infancy to one of – if not the best – football towns in the National Football League, with undoubtedly the best and most passionate fans that I've ever seen, and I want to thank you guys for being that."
Ogden was inducted along with receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, offensive lineman Larry Allen, defensive tackle Curley Culp, linebacker Dave Robinson and coach Bill Parcels.
The Ravens drafted Ogden with the fourth-overall pick in the 1996 draft, and he's now the first home-grown Raven to enter the Hall of Fame. Ogden had the man who brought him to Baltimore, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, present him for the ceremony.
In the video segment before Ogden's speech, Newsome reflected on the decision to take the UCLA lineman with the team's first-ever pick.
"Some people call it a very conservative move," Newsome said. "Even though it may not have been a popular pick, it was a great pick."
At the time, the Ravens debated between taking Ogden and Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips. Ogden was the top-rated player on the board, and Newsome convinced Owner Art Modell that taking the lineman was the right move.
Ogden looked back on that day and used it to crack a joke to open Saturday's speech.
"I've often thought about that day back in 1996 when you drafted me instead of Lawrence Phillips," Ogden said. "I think that worked well for everybody."
The move worked perfectly for the Ravens, as Ogden went on to play 12 seasons in Baltimore. He spent his entire Hall-of-Fame career in Baltimore, where he helped redefine the left tackle position. Ogden was the bedrock of the offensive line, making 11-straight Pro Bowls, and a key part of the Ravens 2000 Super Bowl team.
"I don't know any left tackle that played the position better than Jonathan Ogden," Newsome said. "He's part of the foundation of this franchise, part of the reason why we have two Super Bowl wins here. If you're taking a journey, the first steps are the most important steps you have to take, and taking Jonathan was our first step."
Even though he retired in 2007, Ogden is still very much a part of the Ravens' franchise. Ogden thanked current Owner Steve Bisciotti, who gave Ogden a Super Bowl XLVII ring for the role he played in laying the groundwork for the foundation. Ogden had both of his Super Bowl rings on his right hand during his speech.
Bisciotti, Ray Lewis, team President Dick Cass, Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations* *Kevin Byrne, former trainer Bill Tessendorf and former equipment manager Ed Carroll all traveled to Canton for the enshrinement.
Ogden also made it a point to thank Modell, and advocated for the former owner's eventual induction into Canton.
"I really wish he could be with me today," Ogden said. "Someone once said to me, if you can't tell the history of the game of football without mentioning this person, then they are without a doubt a Hall of Famer. Well there is no way you can tell the history of pro football without mentioning Art Modell."
Ogden concluded his speech by reflecting on the early, uncertain years in Baltimore. He talked about the growth of the team and the city, and how the fans were the ultimate source of motivation. Just like he did throughout his career, Ogden never made it about himself.
Ogden left the stage with powerful words of appreciation for the franchise that drafted him, and the fans that supported him.
"I am so very proud to have been the Baltimore Ravens first-ever draft choice," Ogden said. "And I am so humbled to be the Baltimore Ravens first-ever Hall of Fame inductee."