General Manager and Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome
We all remember the ambiguity that was there with [Lawrence] Phillips vs. [Jonathan] Ogden [in 1996]. In your mind, you had a clear path to who you were going to take, right? (Joe Platania)"If Jonathan [Ogden] would have been picked, then we would have taken Lawrence Phillips. But, in that he was not picked and he was still available, then he was clearly the No. 1-rated player on our board, and that's why we took him."
Can you talk about the conversation or what your feelings were when Jonathan asked if you would present him? (Jeff Zrebiec) "How it transpired was, obviously, we were all down in New Orleans. Because of Jonathan and Mr. Modell being in the Final 15, I kind of set aside the whole afternoon just to make it a Hall of Fame afternoon to wait and see the results of the vote. I got a call that Mr. Modell did not make it into the Final 10. I think that's the way it is set up. Jonathan was still alive, and then I got a call that Jonathan had made it. So, I texted him to say, 'Thank you and would he love to come by the hotel, and let's have a toast.' Fifteen, 20 minutes later he texted me saying, 'Hey, I'm downstairs.' We found a nice quiet spot near the meeting room, and we toasted, and we had a big hug. Then I started to leave and he said, 'I have one other thing,' and I said, 'What's that?' And he said, 'I want you to present me.' It was a powerful moment – very humbling moment at that point."
**Have you ever been asked to present before? I know you've been back, obviously, being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Is this something new? *(Jerry Coleman) *"This is my first. Having gone through it – having to pick someone – it's a tough decision. [There are] a lot of people that you like to recognize that have impacted your life, and you know you can only pick one. So, to be selected is really, really something special."
*Since you've been on the stage, you've written your speech before. What advice will you give J.O. in the process? (Brent Harris) "The years that I've gone back, us veterans always take bets on who is going to cry first, because it is a very emotional time. What I tried to tell Jonathan is take some notes, come from your heart and don't be up there too long." *(laughter)
What does it mean to you to not only present him but also to welcome him in as a fellow Hall of Famer? (Garrett Downing) "Watching his career, being a part of his career, seeing how it transpired – he played at a Hall of Fame level. He had the longevity. He played in and won a Super Bowl, but to be able to be there at the offset and then to be there [when] he's going in, I don't think I can put it into words. It's so different. I guess all of us have – most of us – have probably had a child in your life, and [it's like] watching a child grow up and then maybe seeing them go off to school for the first time."
What kind of legacy has he left for this organization? (Jason Butt) "I think when you think of that, you think about our foundation. The foundation of this franchise stands on the shoulder of Jonathan [Ogden] as well as Ray [Lewis]. But, Jonathan was first. To be able to have someone like that, and then if you combine that with Ray, that anytime that a player walked into that locker room for the first 12 years, they saw what it took to be a Raven. Jonathan was a big part of that because of the way he practiced, the way he prepared and the way he carried himself off the field."
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Jonathan as a player? (Ryan Mink)"Football is a hard game. It's hard to play. Jonathan made it look so easy. I don't know if he even had to sweat half the time when he was out there playing. He played against some very competitive people. He made the game look so easy with the way he played it. That's because of the way he prepared."
What do you want people to know about Jonathan? What should the wider world know about Jonathan? (Childs Walker) "It's a little bit about when I said when I had to do my presentation, because I have already done it – thank God. I don't have to continue to try to prepare; they do it differently now. I think if you could just take silence and the meaning of silence, Jonathan did his job so well you didn't even know he was on the field. The way he carried himself as a player, you didn't even know he was on the team. I just think of Jonathan as someone who was just silence – nothing. When he was playing, when he was living in this community, you never heard anything about it. You just got a chance to see how effective he was."
**Wally Williams just told me a story about how he found Jonathan just as impressive off the field as he did on it. He talked about his intellect, and how he would sit there with Jonathan watching Jeopardy, and Jonathan would just rattle off answers. I'm not sure if you have any similar stories like that. Do you have any off-the-field Jonathan stories? *(Matt Zenitz) *"The only thing that I knew about Jonathan is his preparation and the book that he carried about the people he would be playing against. He had his own notebook. Once he played against Tony Brackens or Jevon Kearse or Simeon Rice, he had a book, he would look at the tape, and then he would go back to his notebook, and he would compare the notes just to understand how these guys were playing and how they were playing at that point."
You've been around a lot of star offensive lineman. Is he the best you've been around? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Again, this is what I said in my presentation – whether it becomes a part of it, I don't know. But I was talking to James Harris about it, who was with us when Jonathan was here, and he said it this way: 'There are a lot of great offensive linemen, and there are a lot of great players who are in the Hall of Fame that are very deserving. But I don't know if there's anybody who played the position any better than Jonathan Ogden did.'"
Are there any plays that immediately come to mind when you think of 'J.O.'? (Aaron Wilson) "I think his rookie year … He was playing guard, as we all know. He was out on a screen pass, and he was leading Earnest [Byner]. And Ernest was having a tough time just trying to catch up with Jonathan [because] Jonathan was moving so fast. That was probably the one incident. And then there were probably – and I don't want to embarrass any other player in the league – but there were probably three or four games where I would watch Jonathan on tape on that Monday, and I would hate to have to be that player that had to go watch the tape that Monday because of the way Jonathan had destroyed him."
Ozzie, if you had to design a left tackle out of thin air, is he pretty much what you would design? (Childs Walker) "That's the poster child. And the thing about Jonathan – he was 6-8, 340-plus, but Jonathan could bend and get his weight down to be able to block the 6-1 and the 6-2 defensive lineman."
Is there anything else you can add to the impact of Jonathan Ogden using his intelligence and a player like that? (John Moore) "I think that's why the game was so easy for Jonathan. It wasn't just because he was athletic, and he was competitive. He had the intellect also. He had the ability to understand schemes, what other people were doing on defense, and that made the game so much easier for him to play."
*You thought he would be really good when you picked him. Did he turn out to be better than you thought? *(Clifton Brown) "I can probably say it this way: If we don't pick Jonathan Ogden with that first pick, I may not have this job. Jonathan [was] very good, but he got better. And if it wasn't for the toe [injury in 2007], Jonathan could have probably played another four or five years. But he decided to walk away from the game."
With offensive lineman, they don't keep stats. There's no way to quantify their worth. How could you quantify what made Jonathan better than his peers? (Mark Zinno) "To steal a quote: 'You never leave home without him.' *(laughter) *When we had Jonathan, we didn't care who we were playing. We played against some of the best pass-rushers – guys that have gone into the Hall of Fame. But when we had Jonathan, we didn't worry about those guys. That's how important … We didn't have to worry about keeping backs in, chipping, tight ends staying in to chip or help. We had Jonathan. And when you have someone like that, it just expands your offense and your ability to do things."
Going back to the Hall of Fame as a member, does this enhance it – going back as an executive now with a guy who is getting inducted? (Jerry Coleman) "I probably would have went back this year. This year is the 50-year anniversary of the Hall of Fame, and they started three or four years ago to ask all of us to come back for this 50-year anniversary. But this makes it even a little bit more special, that I'm going back because of Jonathan. I've already went there with [Rod] Woodson, Shannon [Sharpe] and Deion [Sanders] because they played within the organization also. But Jonathan grew up in the organization, so that makes it a little bit more special."
Explain the first time you watched him on tape when he was playing for UCLA? (Kevin Byrne) "J.J. Stokes was a receiver. We were in Cleveland, and I think we were picking 10th. J.J. was one of the guys that we were looking at, but as it is when you're watching tape, if there's another really good player that you can't help but go, 'Who is that guy?' And that guy was Jonathan Ogden. So, you start asking questions to your area scouts, going, 'Why is he not coming out [as a junior]?' Well, Jonathan wanted to go to the Olympics [for track and field]. But I saw Jonathan in his junior year when I was studying J.J. Stokes."