Mohler, a St. Albans grad who was 6 feet 6, 250 pounds while playing football at North Carolina, was back on campus as offensive line coach. He had spotted Ogden, then a senior, in the St. Albans wrestling room during a workout and began engaging him in playful banter. Moments later they were on the mat — but not for long.
“We were just messing around, and so everybody was goading me into wrestling him,” Mohler said. “He was just in there staying in shape, so I wrestled him, and he almost killed me. But he was very nice about it and respectful after he basically strangled the life out of me and pinned me in about a minute and a half.”
Former teammates and coaches at every level used similar language when discussing the affable Ogden, the 6-9, 345-pound tackle who will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. The rest of the Class of 2013 comprises Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp.
The night before the ceremony, Mohler, former St. Albans athletic director Dave Baad and former Bulldogs football coach Doug Boswell plan to host a party at a Canton, Ohio, tavern to reminisce about the third player born and raised in the nation’s capital to be enshrined. (The others are Willie Wood and Len Ford, both from defunct Armstrong High.)
“I vividly remember a game, and it was a pulling play for him,” said Mark Hammond, a high school teammate who played college football at Navy. “I just remember on the film that you saw, it was a defensive end I think, all of a sudden you see the guy completely gone because he’s been completely enveloped within Oggie’s frame. It was almost an unfair match whenever he lined up.”
Those closest to Ogden in high school also mentioned the influence Skip Grant, the retired longtime athletic director and track and field coach at St. Albans, had on a young man whose father was an investment banker and whose mother is the executive director for a nonprofit helping minority students attend law school.
Under Grant’s tutelage, Ogden became All-Met in the shot put and still holds school records in that event and the discus. Grant laughs these days when he recalls how Odgen dwarfed students and faculty alike as he roamed the hallways in between classes.
“Definitely the folks at St. Albans had a huge influence on me,” Ogden said. “Skip Grant was really one of the first people. Honestly, integrity, he walked it and lived it. These guys, they taught you good lessons in life. St. Albans taught you a lot. I mean, it teaches you how to think for yourself, how to become a better citizen. Those are lessons that I definitely took.”