Jonathan Ogden's grandma told him every time she saw him when he was a little boy: "You are S-p-e-c-i-a-l..."
Boy was she right.
The dominant 6-8, 345 pound 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.”
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.”