Offensive lineman Marques Ogden stopped by Crossroads United Methodist Church yesterday to speak to approximately 150 exchange students from all over Europe: Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Russia and Spain. The students are visiting the United States for the summer, studying abroad in Jacksonville.
Ogden was invited by the church to talk to the exchange students about American football and what it is like being a professional player. Recently returning from his trip to Europe where he played in the NFL Europe League with the Scottish Claymores, Marques struck a chord with the students when he told them all of the places he visited while in Europe; places some of the students recognized.
"I was in Glasgow, Scotland with a few players walking down the street, checking out the sites," said Ogden. "We came across this little boy and his mother, when the little boy turns to her asking 'Mommy, is he a giant?' talking about me." The students laughed at the story.
"I can understand what it's like going to a new country where nothing is familiar, and getting used to their customs and way of living. But I will say, I never thought football would allow me to travel the world."
Before Marques went into more detail about the game of football and playing the sport, the students watched the Jaguars 2003 Season in Review show. For some of them this was their first encounter with the American sport. They seemed to really get into the portion of the tape that showed Jaguars players hitting and tackling their opponents.
"The game of football is disciplined," said Ogden. "It makes you do things you're not used to doing… There's a lot of work that goes into what I do; most days waking up at 5:00 a.m. and not getting to bed until 10:00 p.m."
To demonstrate some of the moves he performs on the field, Marques called one of the students from the audience. He selected a 6'7" student from Sweden. Standing up from his chair, this tall, thinly-framed young man made his way to the front of the room to meet Marques.
"Don't hurt me," he said in broken English. "You are bigger than me."
After the demonstration, Marques opened the floor for questions. The students had a range of questions to ask.
One student asked, "Isn't it hard to start a family or get a girlfriend when you're training?"
Ogden replied, "It's been a while since I've had a serious relationship. When I meet girls I tell them it's going to be hard to maintain a relationship because I'm always traveling and practicing…I don't see myself getting married for a long time; I'm still young."
Another student asked, "Do you do anything outside of football?"
"I like to hunt, fish, and participate in outdoor activities," Marques replied. "I just bought a pool table not too long ago."
Another student asked, "How is the relation on the team?" Ogden responded, "We all work hard together; it's like we're brothers and we look out for one another."
The visit came to an end when Marques took time to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Each student was clearly excited to have been given this opportunity, and they will return home and be able to tell their families and friends that they got to meet a professional football player.