With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, we asked Ravens Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden to share his draft-day experience. Here’s what he remembers from April 20, 1996.
The day I got drafted, I remember waking up feeling excited, nervous, anxious.
You don’t really know where you’re going to go, but you’ve heard rumors. You hear Arizona, you hear things about Baltimore, you hear things about the Giants.
At the end of the day, you just kind of want it to be over with. You just want to hear your name called and then move on to the next step because you knew that was just a step to the next phase of your life.
Did I think I was going to the Arizona Cardinals? Absolutely.
All the draft prognosticators, all the guys like ESPN’s Mel Kiper and all the experts, said I was going to the Cardinals with the third pick. Even talking to the Cardinals organization, even talking to my agent the night before, everything said Cardinals.
When the phone rang in the green room, I was ready to stand up and walk over to it. Then they called Simeon Rice’s name and I kind of sat back down. They said, “Simeon Rice, Arizona Cardinals.” I said, “Well, that’s part of the draft. That’s the way the game goes. We’ll just see what happens with Baltimore being on the clock next.”
I knew we’d had some things we talked about – [General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and I – but I really hadn’t comprehended that fully because I, at that time, still thought I was going to be an Arizona Cardinal. The Cardinals passed on me, but I didn’t wait long, obviously.
The phone rang and I went over to it. It was Ozzie, and he said, “Jonathan, this is Ozzie Newsome. Are you ready to become a Baltimore Raven?” I said, “I sure am!”
At the time, I hadn’t really thought that much about Baltimore. I knew it was close to my hometown in Washington, D.C. I knew that my mother, who was there with me in the green room, was extremely excited. My whole family knew I was coming back to the area [after college at UCLA].
For me, I just viewed it as an opportunity. We had no established identity. We had no team colors – from the hat and the jacket that I had to hold up. I just looked at it as an opportunity to come into a new city that hadn’t experienced football in a while, and try to build something special.
After I got drafted, I celebrated with the whole family that was up there in New York with me. I got on the plane and headed down to Baltimore. One of the first people I called in Baltimore was a friend of mine named Brent Guyton, who went to UCLA with me and lived in Baltimore. So I said, “I’m coming to Baltimore!” We went down there and hung out a little bit, did the press conference.
The first thing I noticed was how great a city and how enthusiastic the fans were in Baltimore. One of the first things I said was, “We’re going to find a way to build a winner here.” That’s what I imagined. I imagined myself and Ray Lewis and Jermaine Lewis, I was starting to see who we had. I just said we’re starting to build something and I wanted to be part of something special.