DC Star: Coaching With Passion


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Ogden's a football lifer who earned a spot on the Cowboys roster in 1998 as a rookie free agent from Eastern Washington University. In two seasons with the Cowboys, he caught 20 passes for 207 yards, with most of his contributions coming on special teams.

Chan Gailey took over as the Cowboys' head coach the year Ogden entered the NFL, and Gailey's installation of a new offense helped Ogden take that major step from a smaller college into the pros.

"It was beyond my whole thought process at the time," Ogden says. "Do I really get to put that uniform on and get into a preseason game? To come into that situation with Coach Gailey and a new offense really leveled the playing field for me mentally. Fortunately, I was able to do a few things and help out on special teams. It was a really great opportunity, beyond my wildest dreams. I learned so much being around all those Super Bowl veterans on that team. It was a priceless experience.

"I've been to several places and it was the best organization from top to bottom, from management to coaches to staff. I remember it as my favorite experience. Everything was first-rate, how they were seen in the community and how they carried themselves as an organization. To experience that my first two years really set the bar high."

Eventually, he was traded to the Dolphins, playing for Miami from 2000-01. His highlight there was an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown that won a game in 2000. After a season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2002, he decided to move on to the next phase of his football career.

His first coaching opportunity was in 2003 at the high school level in Mt. Airy, N.C., the town where the "Andy Griffith Show" was shot. He taught classes and coached receivers. While the experience had its rewards, he concluded that he would be better suited to college or pro coaching.

"I realized it was a little different than I was accustomed to," Ogden says. "Some of the guys would rather work on their car than go to practice or were on the team because their girlfriend was cheerleading. It was a different mentality, so I decided that wasn't the right level for me to coach."

The following spring, he tutored receivers in NFL Europe for the Rhein Fire, and then landed an intern coaching assignment with the Dolphins when he returned from overseas.

At camp, he was approached by the head coach of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, who was searching for a receivers coach. Ogden worked there for a season, then got into personal training and opened a gym. He's now the owner of Achieve A-Nu-Yu Fitness Club in downtown Pittsburgh.

Through his association with the gym, he met Teresa Conn, who was at the time a player for the Passion, the franchise she owns and founded in 2002. He was invited to join the Passion as an assistant coach last season before agreeing to share head coaching responsibilities with Conn this year.

Last August, however, it seemed unlikely Ogden would be involved in anything of an athletic nature after he suffered massive injuries in a head-on collision on a two-lane highway in the Pennsylvania mountains.

"I lost the whole offseason," he says. "So I've had to get my life back in order. But I did feel that desire to get back into coaching. Even growing up, I wanted to be a coach.

"I was in the hospital for two weeks and couldn't leave my house for two months before I could even get into a wheelchair. I broke or hurt pretty much everything but my right arm. Everything was broken head to toe: my left foot, my right femur has a rod in it, my left arm has a plate with screws in it, and I shattered the bone under my left eye. That has a plate. I never had surgery in my five years in the NFL, but I've had probably 20 for this."

Ogden says if he hadn't been protected by a substantial SUV, he probably would not have survived the crash. The driver of the other vehicle was attempting to pass on a blind curve, and Ogden had no chance to veer out of the way.

"I had no time to react," Ogden says. "He was trying to pass on a double-yellow line over a hill and around a turn, so we didn't see each other until the last second. I was very fortunate. One of the children in the other car didn't make it. I can't fathom why someone would take such a chance with children in the car, to pass around a blind turn over a hill going 50 mph.

"How close I was to losing my life and someone else did, it really puts life in perspective. They needed the Jaws of Life to peel the truck away from me. If I'd been driving anything else, I probably wouldn't have made it. You have a lot of downtime to think about what you want to do."

And for now, he wants to be coaching a women's team in Pittsburgh.

Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine, July, 2008

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