Legendary 75 Section | **Jonathan Ogden Bio**
It was an emotional Thursday in Owings Mills, Md., where several past and present Ravens came to team headquarters to witness the official retirement of one of the most dominant players in NFL history.
Jonathan Ogden sat on stage next to general manager Ozzie Newsome and spoke to a room packed with media and a large contingent of players.
There was Kyle Boller and Bart Scott, members of a current team that will certainly miss such a stalwart presence in the locker room.
Edwin Mulitalo shared the riser with Harry Swayne and Orlando Brown, all key parts of the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl squad.
Ogden's mother, Cassandra, wife, Kema, son, Jayden and brother, Marques, were all in attendance.
As the first draft pick in Ravens franchise history, Ogden's history in Baltimore was represented by Newsome and former president David Modell, who was in the crowd.
All in all, it was a packed auditorium to say goodbye to one of the most dominant football players in NFL history - a tribute to arguably the best player to ever don purple and black.
"For over 30 years in this league, I've witnessed a lot of very good football players," said Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end before heading the Ravens' personnel staff. "In my opinion, there was no one in this league that played their position as well as Jonathan played his position."
Ogden didn't want any of the fanfare, however. He talked about how he was hoping to just coming into the room and tell the media that he was finished. End of story.
"A couple years ago, I said that one day I was going to walk in here and say, 'You know what? I think I'm done. Take it easy,' and just kind of walk out of here," Ogden said with a laugh. "I tried to tell Ozzie I wanted to do that, but he wouldn't let me. He made me have this press conference, so I decided to come here and just say my thing."
Still, even the stoic veteran, the giant of a man that spoke more through actions than words, had to admit he was moved by the turnout.
"It means a great deal to me, from the old to the new school," said Ogden. "It just makes me feel like they appreciate what I brought to this organization and me as a person. I appreciate and love them for that.
"Football teams are families. When one person leaves the family, it's good to see the other people care. I just can't thank them enough for being here."
Ogden plans on staying connected to his Baltimore family for a long time. He wants to continue to work in the community, whether that is through his foundation's golf tournament or the time he spent with students at Patterson High School.
And for once, he also wants to enjoy games at M&T Bank Stadium as a fan.
"I'm a Baltimore Raven for life, obviously," he said. "I mean, there's no doubt about that. I definitely plan on being around here in this community. There's no doubt about that."
"I'm looking forward to going to the first home game and just kind of watching. I haven't gotten the chance to be a Ravens' fan yet. I've been playing for so long here that I wanted to sit there and just watch and root and be like everybody else who gets mad at the TV."
As much emotion that filled the auditorium yesterday, there wasn't a hint of sadness. Ogden never fought back tears, instead deadpanning his way through the memories of a decorated 12-year career.
It started when a logo-less Ravens team, fresh off their move from Cleveland, selected him fourth-overall in the 1996 draft. When then-owner Art Modell proffered Ogden an unfamiliar black and white helmet, he was at a loss.
"We had a hat, a white hat with black letters that said 'Baltimore Ravens' and a black coat with white letters that said 'Baltimore Ravens.' I'm like, 'What is this?'" Ogden quipped. "We didn't even have any colors!"
He reminisced about the first of his 11 Pro Bowls, where the 6-foot-9, 345-pound tackle ran down Deion Sanders from 80 yards to catch him. Although, "the story probably gets a little more [exaggerated]."
Ogden also claimed to have taught Boller, a near-scratch golfer, how to swing a driver.
Afterwards, those in attendance were eager to dish it right back at Ogden once they had the chance.
Ravens defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, who only faced Ogden once during his nine-year stint with the Denver Broncos, was recovering from an injured back when he met No. 75.
"I come around the corner and thought, 'Oh, he's 380 pounds. Let me try to throw him out of the way,'" Pryce said. "I don't think he lifted a foot off the ground. In the middle of the play, he said, 'Oh man, are you all right? You can't do that. Your back hurts!'"
Pryce was also quick to praise the lineman many would call the best of all time.
"In my 11 years of playing this game, he is by far the best I've played against," he continued.
Ogden's retirement comes at a time when many high-profile athletes are leaving the game, such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Farve and New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.
But unlike Farve, there will be no questions surrounding a potential Ogden comeback.
"That won't be happening," he said. "That's why it took me so long, really. I knew at the end of last season that I probably wasn't going to come back, but, at the same time, when you make a decision like that you need to give it time. You don't make that decision just on a whim."
Now, Ogden will have to wait five years before he can join Newsome in Canton. And while Ogden is reluctant to talk about his place in history, it was easy to let others do it for him.
"I'm grateful to be the person to thank Jonathan for 12 years of unbelievable football," Newsome said. "But, not only that, also for the way that he carried himself off the field and all of the contributions that he made to the City of Baltimore. It's been a great run. I've had the opportunity to enjoy each and every moment of it."
Legendary 75 Section | **Jonathan Ogden Bio**