|Ogden: Year 12 is a go, but forget about 20|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2007 09:40|
The Baltimore Ravens' mammoth left tackle already had plenty of money, a Super Bowl ring and was coming off his 10th consecutive berth in the Pro Bowl. He also had a hyperextended left big toe that was giving him fits.
``I just kind of wanted to decide if I wanted to play football more. This is 12 years coming up, and that's a long time - not to mention college and high school,'' Ogden recalled Wednesday. ``You just got to examine, do I want to do it still?''
The answer, much to the delight of the Ravens, was yes.
``I woke up one day saying, 'You know what? Lets give it one more go,''' he said.
Ogden is participating in the team's involuntary minicamp this week and will be a major factor in Baltimore's bid to defend the AFC North title and build on its 13-3 record of a year ago.
The 6-foot-9, 345-pound Ogden will turn 33 on July 31. He has no problem playing a 12th season, but from this point on, any decision about extending his career will come on a year-to-year basis.
``I'm not going to be playing for 20 years,'' he said. ``Right now, I'm just trying to focus on getting my toe right and getting ready for this season.''
Doctors determined that Ogden won't need surgery on the toe, but the Ravens plan to take it easy on him this summer. He missed much of training camp last year after his father died, so it's quite evident that Ogden doesn't need all that much practice to get ready for the season opener.
``We appreciate that Jonathan is here. But our expectations were for him not to be ready to go until training camp, and we may very well adjust that first week to make sure we've got a firm footing underneath him,'' coach Brian Billick said.
With Ogden cementing the left side of the line, the Ravens finished with the second-best record in the AFC last season. But their bid for a second Super Bowl was ruined with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the playoffs.
Ogden missed the final two games of the regular season because of the toe injury, then returned to play against the Colts. In the wake of the defeat, he spoke of hanging up his huge cleats for good.
But Ogden ultimately decided that he didn't want to end his spectacular career on such a down note.
``Last year was a great season and a huge disappointment in the playoffs,'' he said. ``I just decided: You know what? The toe's going to be OK, we were close last year and I want to try to get another ring before I go. So that was basically the deciding factor.''
Ogden continued to run and lift weights while pondering his future, mostly because there would be no doubt which way he would go if he spent the offseason doing little more than playing golf near his plush Las Vegas home.
``I knew that if I didn't work out,'' he said, ``I wouldn't be coming back.''
His indecision created a stir around Baltimore, but his teammates fully expected No. 75 to be in uniform this season.
``It might have been on the fence for you all, but I knew he was coming back,'' left guard Jason Brown said. ``When you know a guy, been around him enough and know his personality...''
Ogden was the Ravens' first pick in 1996, their inaugural season. Since that time, Ogden has sealed the left side of the line, mentored dozens of rookies and provided a massive amount of guidance in the locker room and in the huddle.
``The guy's a Hall of Famer. That says enough in itself,'' center Mike Flynn said. ``Not only his leadership, but in his ability to play. Talent alone we need him, but just being a leader and guy who's been there and done that, young guys can watch and learn from him.''