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 "A Pleasure To Play With," an article by former Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett featured in "Jonathan Ogden: Baltimore's First Raven," a Hall of Fame commemorative magazine on sale now at PressBoxOnline.com.
I first saw J.O. right after the 1996 draft. I asked Ozzie Newsome about him and Ozzie smiled and said, "Rob, wait 'til you see this kid."
I first met J.O. in the cafeteria after one of the first shorts-only practices. He was a local kid who grew up in Washington, D.C., and he had high character and unlimited potential.
He was a good kid, devoid of ego or arrogant attitude and gifted with tremendous size and long arms, just the way you want 'em.
Needless to say, I was impressed, and I could not wait to get to Westminster to see this gentle giant on the field.
The first pick always gets a longer look, especially from the vets. From the first day of camp, we knew we had something special. J.O. made playing O-line look easy. He was fundamentally sound. You could tell he had been coached, but it was his easygoing attitude that stood out. This kid was the first pick of a new franchise with all the expectations of any player taken No. 4, but he didn't let that get to him.
His technique was outstanding. He stood out especially in pass protection, where his long arms and ability to bend at his knees made him a natural. You could tell his football IQ was advanced, and you rarely heard a coach have to repeat himself, something most rookies go through.
J.O. was an instant starter at left guard because we already had Tony "T-Bone" Jones, a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle. The thing that sticks out to me was the first one-on-one pass drill. J.O. lined up against Dan Footman. Footman was a unique specimen, 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.
Legend has it that Footman broke a Cybex machine during a workout. The Cybex machine tests leg strength, and Dan broke the machine. That's just a little example of what I mean when I say he was a unique specimen. Well, J.O. lined up and Footman, with his brash personality, yelled, "Let me get the big-money rookie!"
The ball was snapped and J.O. quickly stood to his pass set and grabbed Footman by his shoulder pads, and Footman could not get out of his stance. It was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen a rookie O-lineman do to a vet D-lineman. Truthfully, I don't think Footman ever recovered from that, because we played it over and over again in the defensive meeting room.
It was amazing, but it was just a sign of things to come as far as what type of player J.O. would become.
Issue 189: September 2013