“Such a nerve-racking thing, just waiting,” Ogden said shortly after the announcement was made. “Your résumé is done; you’ve done all you can do.”
The other members of the Hall of Fame class are offensive lineman Larry Allen, wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Curley Culp, longtime coach Bill Parcells, linebacker Dave Robinson and defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
Sapp and Allen also were first-ballot selections. Culp and Robinson were senior candidates.
To pass the time and ease the stress this week, Ogden roamed Bourbon Street late at night, watching the faces pass, and spent Saturday watching golf on television. The election process is grueling and secretive; the group of NFL writers gathered Saturday for more than eight hours at the Ernest Morial Convention Center before emerging with a final list. Ogden said he had heard from supporters that he was a sure thing, but he didn’t know for certain until the announcement was made.
The committee, which began discussions at 8 a.m. Saturday before emerging after 4 p.m., spent nearly an hour debating Parcells’s inclusion before deciding to include the two-time Super Bowl champion in this year’s class on his fourth try. Carter had been a finalist the previous five years.
Ogden spent the final minutes in a waiting room at the convention center, with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake among those with him. Ogden was raised in Northwest Washington and beginning in junior high attended St. Albans, where he grew into a 6-foot-9 football star, before playing at UCLA and later becoming the first draft pick in Ravens history. He was selected fourth overall in 1996, 22 spots before linebacker Ray Lewis, whose final game will be Sunday’s Super Bowl against the 49ers.
“Kind of a full-circle weekend here,” Ogden said during the nationally televised announcement broadcast.
The election committee began the day with 17 finalists, and those trimmed first were former NFL owners Art Modell and Eddie DeBartolo, linebacker Kevin Greene, wide receiver Tim Brown and guard Will Shields.
Making the final 10 modern-era candidates but falling short of election were running back Jerome Bettis, defender Charles Haley, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive back Aeneas Williams and defensive end Michael Strahan, who was also a first-time finalist. Finalists must receive 80 percent of the vote to be elected.
Carter had struggled for years to move from finalist to inductee, despite 13,899 career receiving yards and 130 touchdowns. Allen was a six-time first-team all-pro, winning a Super Bowl in 1995 as part of those great Dallas teams. Sapp had 961
2 career sacks and also won a championship with Tampa Bay.
Culp was a cornerstone defender for Kansas City and Houston in the 1960s and ’70s, and Robinson played for Green Bay and the Washington Redskins before retiring in 1974.
Ogden wouldn’t say who might present him at the enshrinement ceremony next summer, wanting to consider a few names and discuss it with them before revealing his choice. But when it came to a size for his gold jacket?
“Big,” said Ogden, who played at 345 pounds and for years was known as the game’s most consistent left tackle.
He retired after the 2007 season, following 11 Pro Bowls. On Saturday, he said he called his mother shortly after hearing the news of his election. His wife, who he said was traveling to New Orleans when the announcement was made, hadn’t yet heard that her husband was now a Hall of Famer.
“It’s going to be one of the highlights of my life,” Ogden said of being enshrined in six months.