Former Ravens offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden took his place among the giants of the game when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 3.
The following is an excerpt of "Back In The Game," an article by Michael Olesker featured in "Jonathan Ogden: Baltimore's First Raven," a Hall of Fame commemorative magazine on sale now at PressBoxOnline.com.
For Baltimore football fans with bittersweet memories of a bygone era, Jonathan Ogden arrived as a giant figure reaching across the generations.
He was the first link between the distantly departed Colts and the newly arrived Ravens. He was Jim Parker reincarnate, a huge offensive tackle ready to protect some future Baltimore quarterback who might one day, if miracles happened, become another John Unitas.
With the birth of the Ravens and the arrival of Ogden, all things were suddenly possible. In Ogden, Baltimoreans saw the first promise of so many Sunday afternoons to come, that the bitterness of a dozen previous years in pro football's wilderness might be washed away.
All this weighed on the shoulders of a 22-year-old who understood almost none of it when he arrived in Baltimore 17 years ago.
Ogden was focused on making his next block; he didn't imagine he was making history. He didn't consider the two pieces of Baltimore professional football lore he was linking.
But, as the first collegian the brand-new Ravens selected during their first draft, Ogden was not only a ballplayer, but a symbol to Baltimoreans: After so many years since the Colts had been stolen away, and so many disappointments trying to get another team, and so many insults from the stuffed shirts of the NFL, we were back in the game.
Now, as the first lifetime Raven to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- and as a 10-time All-Pro who went to 11 Pro Bowls and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV -- Ogden is a reminder of how rich a history this franchise has compiled.
And how rich a football history Baltimore has compiled. The old Colts are enshrined in Canton, Ohio -- Unitas and Gino and Berry, Artie and Lenny, Parker and Mackey -- and now J.O. [has joined] them.
All are part of Baltimore's history, and Ogden's inclusion reminds us how a football love affair that once seemed doomed was revived beyond all doubting.
"The Baltimore fans?" Ogden said. "Oh, they're fantastic. Any time you go out, you see the passion. You see the Purple Fridays. Any time you do an appearance, you see how the city has become a Ravens town. It really is. That's the Baltimore football fan -- people who love the game and the team."
Issue 188: August 2013