When he was giving his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August, Jonathan Ogden kept coming back to how special a life he has lived.
The former perennial All-Pro offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens who is in town to play in this weekend’s Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course, said he’s still somewhat in awe that he’s among the game’s greatest players, coaches and executives.
“The lasting impression has been walking through the hall and actually seeing my bust there,” Ogden, who played 12 years in the NFL, all with the Ravens, said Friday before teeing off for his pro-am round. “It’s official, and there’s no getting cut. You’re actually in.
“You know how many people have played this game and to be considered among the top players, it’s unbelievable. As a kid, you dream about playing pro football. You don’t even dream about the hall.”
Ogden remains active in charity work through his foundation, which helps at-risk kids in Baltimore and Las Vegas by supporting educational and athletic programs. He said giving back is part of who he is.
“It’s important to reach out and help,” Ogden said. “That’s how I was raised, and my wife does a tremendous job (overseeing the foundation).”
As a football fan, Ogden admits he’s concerned about the direction the game is headed. He’s worried that parents won’t let their kids play the game because of safety concerns. And while the NFL claims it is addressing safety issues, Ogden’s not 100 percent sold.
“I’m glad they’re addressing the intentional head shots in the game,” he said. “But the bottom line is you really can’t prevent injuries from happening. It’s a violent game. It’s a collision sport. But at the same time, you can’t play it safe. But I appreciate the effort they’re making.
“Where I’m really concerned about football is at the grassroots level. A lot of moms don’t want to let their kids play because of fear of head injuries.”
Ogden said he’s trying to deal with watching an NFL that appears geared toward helping the offense.
“It’s not the same game,” he said. “They’re going to a little more openness. You’d think as an offensive lineman I’d like the new rules that helps the offense. But the truth is, I like the game the way it used to be.
“But nothing ever stays the same. Look at basketball. Look at baseball. Everything changes over time.”
Part of the game from back then was good-natured ribbing among teammates. As a former offensive lineman, Ogden followed the situation in Miami this season involving the Dolphins’ offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. He said that while the intentions of toughening up Martin may have been initially good, Incognito and the others took it too far.
“The linemen needed to handle that better in the (locker) room,” he said. “It’s about who you have in a leadership role. I think if Jake Long had still been there, things would have been different in Miami.
“It never would have happened on one of my lines. I called some people names. But it was to motivate them, and they understood where I was coming from. I also knew where the line was and never crossed it. I never lost sight of the fact it was a workplace. But you do bust people’s chops in the locker room. They just went too far.”
Ogden will be paired with entertainer-actor Alan Thicke at 9:40 a.m. today for the two-day, 36-hole event. They’ll be hard-pressed to win, but for Ogden, it’s about having fun.
“My game’s not where I’d like it to be,” he said. “Hopefully, I hit more good ones than bad ones.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org of 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.