Jonathan Ogden, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2013, was best known as the premier left tackle of his generation during his career with the Baltimore Ravens and before that as college football’s top lineman at UCLA, where he won the Outland Trophy as a senior.
But well before those stops, Ogden’s foundation as a football player took shape at St. Albans School. Ogden not only learned the fundamentals of the game at the Northwest Washington school but also excelled in the classroom and absorbed the many life lessons.
Ogden was back at St. Albans this morning for a ceremony in his honor as part of Allstate’s Hometown Hall of Famers initiative. The Hall of Fame presented Ogden with a plaque that he elected to give to St. Albans, and the school in turn retired his No. 75 jersey.
“People always associate me with Baltimore or UCLA, but this is where it started,” Ogden said to a packed Martin Gymnasium that included students, current and past teachers and coaches as well as Ravens President Dick Cass, himself a St. Albans graduate and parent.
“He’s a wonderful representative,” Cass said of Ogden, whom Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome selected with the first draft pick in franchise history when it moved from Cleveland in 1996.
The student body wore purple T-shirts with Ogden’s number on the front, and current players on the varsity football team wore their jerseys. Two large screens to either side of the dais showed a montage of some of Ogden’s best moments, including the aftermath of the Ravens’ 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
Seated in the front row was Ogden’s mother, Cassandra, who was introduced at the start of the ceremony. Ogden also cited his late father, Shirrel, as the most important influence in his life. Shirrel Ogden was an investment banker who placed a premium on education after playing football at Howard in the 1970s.
“He would be crying right now,” Ogden said of his father, “just because of how hard he worked raising my brother and me. He sacrificed so much just to try make sure we never missed a practice, we always did our homework, did everything that we needed to do to be good young men.”
The 11-time Pro Bowl selection made sure to give special recognition to former longtime St. Albans athletic director Skip Grant, who was one of his early mentors. During his introductory remarks, Grant spoke about seeing Ogden for the first time, calling him a “man-child” as the rest of the student body barely came up to his waist.
In addition to becoming the All-Met Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 1991, Ogden was a prolific track and field athlete in the shot put and discus. He won every local meet he entered as a junior and senior under the watchful eye of then-Coach Dick Allanson, who also coached the football team, and he so enjoyed track and field that he spurned offers from high-profile schools that wouldn’t allow participation in both sports.
“It brings back all the memories,” Ogden said after addressing the crowd and fielding questions from students. “When you’re going to Omni history or going to the refectory, all these things you remember from being a kid, and looking at the IAC banners from the ’90s, I was part of that, so it’s kind of a trip down memory lane.”