clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

#TBT: Ozzie Newsome's wit prevails in the 1996 NFL draft

New, comments

The 1996 NFL Draft was the first and best draft in Ravens history. If things turned out differently, it might not be so.

The 1996 NFL Draft is the best draft in Ravens history, as they landed two Hall of Fame players in the first round. If not for the prospect shooting up in the draft and Ozzie sticking to his guns, things might've not gone so well.

The Ravens held the fourth overall pick in the draft and had their eyes on two prospects — Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips and UCLA offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

It was all but certain that the Ravens were not going to be able to draft Ogden as it appeared that Ogden was the third best player in the draft after Keyshawn Johnson and Kevin Hardy, both of which would be drafted first and second overall that year. It seemed likely for Ogden be snatched up by Arizona at the No. 3 spot, leaving the Ravens with Phillips.

Fortunately for the Ravens, Simeon Rice's draft stock improved significantly and he was taken instead of Ogden, leaving him for Baltimore.

But former owner Art Modell still wanted Ozzie Newsome, then the director of football operations, to draft Lawrence Phillips. Newsome and the front office stuck to their guns and drafted Ogden with the fourth overall pick. Ogden would play in 177 games and start all but one, get voted to 11 Pro Bowls, get named an All-Pro nine times, make the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, win Super Bowl XXXV, and be the first pure Raven to make it into the Hall of Fame in 2013. The Ravens would also pick Miami linebacker Ray Lewis at the 26th overall pick, too.

Phillips would get taken two spots later, at sixth overall by the St. Louis Rams. Phillips would get cut by the Rams in the middle of the 1997 season because he couldn't stop getting arrested and because of his bad work ethic. He would bounce around with the Miami Dolphins, NFL Europe and the San Francisco 49ers. His career highlight is missing the block on Aeneas Williams which ended Steve Young's career.

Phillips would be released and later have brief stints in the AFL and CFL. He would get a 31 year prison sentence in 2008 for multiple counts of assault, false imprisonment, criminal threats, and auto theft. He recently made headlines again as he's suspected of murdering his cellmate, Damion Soward.

While there was a need for a running back in 1996, the Ravens made the right call by selecting Ogden. It's one reason why the phrase "in Ozzie we trust" still rings true today.