OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Jonathan Ogden is expected to announce his retirement Thursday, ending a stellar career with the Baltimore Ravens in which the left offensive tackle garnered 11 Pro Bowl invitations and a Super Bowl ring.
Ogden, who turns 34 next month, told friends he won't return for a 13th season. The 6-foot-9, 345-pounder has been bothered by an hyperextended toe since December 2006.
Ogden played in a career-low 11 games last year and did not participate in the Pro Bowl because of the bothersome big toe on his left foot.
"That toe injury, I had it once. I know it's got to be emotionally draining on him," quarterback Kyle Boller said Wednesday. "That big toe, as big as he is, you've got to have that thing. I'm sure he got very frustrated with the whole situation. He probably sat down and decided that he wasn't going to be able to do it anymore."
Ogden was the first player drafted by the Ravens after the team left Cleveland in 1996. Plucked out of UCLA as the fourth overall pick, Ogden played left guard in his first season before finding a home at left tackle, the most important position on the offensive line.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in every season after his rookie year. He provided protection from the blindside for a variety of Baltimore quarterbacks, beginning with Vinny Testaverde and including Trent Dilfer, who helped the Ravens defeat the New York Giants in the 2001 Super Bowl.
"It was a blessing. To know I wasn't going to get touched on the left side was huge," Boller said. "I'm going to miss him."
|The giant Ogden is betrayed by a toe injury. (AP)|
"In the huddle and at the line of scrimmage, there's nobody else I would rather have standing next to me than J.O.," said tight end Todd Heap, now in his eighth season with Baltimore. "The guy was the smartest guy I've ever been around."
Ogden didn't scream and yell, but his will to win was never in doubt. If things didn't go right for the Baltimore offense, he often would rip off his helmet on the sideline and make his displeasure known.
"He could snap sometimes. I kind of wanted not to make too many mistakes and make him unhappy," Boller said. "He's a leader. He didn't say that much, but when he did it really meant a lot."
Those who played behind Ogden listened carefully and tried to emulate his technique. But there was no way to combine his size, quickness, talent and poise.
"I played behind him for three years (while I was on the ) practice squad, just watching and learning from him," backup tackle Mike Kracalik said. "He was a gifted athlete. I don't think could ever live up to what Jonathan Ogden was to this league. His composure when he had a speed rusher on him -- he'd just sit back and be relaxed, and almost had a smile on his face when he did it."