"Jonathan is, without a doubt, a Hall of Fame player who is one of the very best left tackles in NFL history," Cowher recalled. "We couldn't beat him with speed rushers, and he would just engulf power rushers. Those long arms, the great feet, the strength — he has it all."
Ogden won't be talking much at the induction ceremony this weekend. He never did much like boasting about himself.
"J.O. is one of the more humble guys I've ever played with," said Jamal Lewis, who ran behind Ogden plenty of times in 2003 on his way to compiling a franchise-record 2,066 yards rushing. "He led by example and was never outworked. I've never seen anybody protect the left side the way he did."
Ogden was only 33 years old when he quit the game after the 2007 season. He had been fighting a nagging foot injury for years and finally had enough.
"He could have continued playing," Mulitalo said. "His 75, 80 percent was probably better than most of the players in the league. But when you're that good, you hold yourself to a different standard, you know?"
Current Ravens coach John Harbaugh had just replaced Brian Billick in January 2008 when Ogden dropped by to talk.
"I was really excited to meet him," Harbaugh recalled this week. "And then he told me he was going to retire. After I wiped the tears off my cheeks, I hugged him, and I begged and pleaded, 'Can we get one more year out of you?' But he said no."
Harbaugh didn't get the chance to coach Ogden, but he knows enough about him to assess his place in NFL history.
"Probably the best left tackle that ever played football," Harbaugh said. "He's one of the two faces on the Ravens' Mount Rushmore, for sure."
The other, of course, being Lewis, who retired after last season and is a virtual shoo-in to join Ogden in the NFL Hall of Fame. But Ogden will always be the first pick in the history of the franchise, and the first to have his bust in Canton, Ohio.
"It feels great," he said. "When I was playing, I was just out there working. I couldn't help the fact that I was the Ravens' first pick. It just kind of happened, and in my mind, all I wanted to do was go out there and help the guys win. So I don't look at it in that perspective. When I do step outside of myself and look at it, it's like, 'Wow, that guy, he had it pretty good.'"