Jonathan Ogden said his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech remains a work in progress. More importantly, so does his work with at-risk youth in Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-9-inch former All-Pro offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens is preparing for his Hall induction Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio. His ongoing mission, though, is trying to improve lives through the Jonathan Ogden Foundation, which works with students in disadvantaged communities by motivating them athletically as well as academically.
“We’re trying to make it fun for them and keep them engaged,” Ogden said at Shadow Creek Golf Course, where he’s playing in the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to give them a little extra boost.”
Ogden, who moved to Las Vegas in 1999 and lives in Anthem, was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection while playing his entire 12-year NFL career with the Ravens. He was a nine-time All-Pro and has a championship ring from Super Bowl XXXV when the Ravens beat the New York Giants on Jan. 28, 2001.
Despite that impressive resume, he’s still a bit mystified that his bust will reside in Canton.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel I did anything special,” the 39-year-old Ogden said. “My job was to protect the quarterback and open holes for the running backs. All I did was my job. I never saw myself as a Hall of Famer.
“That said, it’s an unbelievable honor and I’m really looking forward to that weekend. I can’t promise that I won’t cry a little. But I’m sure it will be emotional.”
Ogden’s foundation, formed in 1996, has benefited hundreds of youth in Southern Nevada and Baltimore.
“We work with high school kids, but we’re also working with elementary school kids with our ‘Fitness and Ready’ program,” he said. “That’s where it has to start — when they’re young. We try to build their self esteem and get them to use their minds.
“I know you can’t help every kid who needs it. But the kids who want the help the most seem to find their way into the program and they’re the ones who benefit the most. It’s the greatest feeling seeing someone succeed when the odds are against them.”
For Ogden, hitting the perfect golf shot might run a close second to helping kids. But he and his playing partner, comedian Rob Riggle, didn’t hit many good ones Saturday in the first round of Jordan’s 36-hole event. Ogden and Riggle shot 7-over-par 79, 14 strokes behind leaders Brandi Chastain and Ken Griffey Jr. The final round begins at 9 a.m. today.
Ogden, who took up golf in 2001, plays to a six handicap. Part of the reason he lives in Las Vegas is for the golf opportunities, he said.
“You can’t beat the weather and there’s so many great courses in Vegas,” Ogden said.
Unlike many of his NFL brethren, Ogden left the game relatively unscathed. He has chronic turf toe on his big left toe, which makes walking painful. Otherwise he’s in good shape for a man who spent 12 years of Sundays butting heads with the likes of Michael Strahan, Dwight Freeney, Richard Seymour and Brian Urlacher.
“I was lucky,” Ogden said. “I feel bad for the guys who are struggling. It’s a tough deal because we all signed up for it.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.