When Ozzie Newsome retired from the NFL following a Hall of Fame career as a tight end, the former NFL star immediately took a job in the original Cleveland Browns' front office as a special assignment scout.
Two years later, Newsome was promoted to assistant to the head coach/offense/pro personnel before later becoming a director of pro personnel.
It was a steady climb for Newsome, who learned the details of talent evaluation from Bill Belichick and Ernie Accorsi.
By the time the Ravens had launched in Baltimore, Newsome was running the personnel department as the vice president of player personnel. By 2002, the late Ravens majority owner Art Modell promoted Newsome and made him the first African-American general manager in NFL history.
The former NFL Executive of the Year can trace his scouting roots back to his Cleveland days.
"The preparation, I think it came when I was asked to stay within the organization," Newsome said. "I just asked Mr. Modell. I wanted to stay on the football side, and he allowed that, but the preparation came from being around Ernie Accorsi and Bill Belichick and being able to listen to those guys for the first two or three years and to gain as much education as I could get.
"We know how great Ernie was, and you see how good Bill has been, but bing able to learn from both of those guys really helped prepare me. The other thing that I think was so beneficial is that whole group that came over from Cleveland, me, Phil [Savage] [Jim Schwartz,] Kirk Ferentz, Mike Sheppard, Pat Hill, we were all just slappies together. We had all worked together. So when we moved over, it was like, 'OK, you know what? I have a title, but I'm just one of you guys. Let's go to work.' And it was fun."
Now, the Ravens are in the Super Bowl and travel to New Orleans on Monday afternoon for their matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
Newsome has one Super Bowl ring from the 2000 Ravens squad that defeated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
He has designs on earning another one with this year's AFC championship team.
"Ozzie is the foundation of the Ravens," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's been the GM since the beginning. He drafted Ray [Lewis.] He drafted Jonathan Ogden. He's drafted every player. He's made every free agent signing that's come through here.
"There is no us without Ozzie. We're not here without Ozzie Newsome. Ozzie would be the first guy to point to the rest of the scouts. You work right through the group: [assistant general manager] Eric DeCosta, [director of college scouting] Joe Hortiz, [senior personnel assistant] George Kokinis, [vice president of football administration] Pat Moriarty, the whole group. They do a great job."
Just as Harbaugh predicted, Newsome was quick to deflect credit for how this team was built, noting that it's an organizational accomplishment.
"From this standpoint, it's not necessarily about what I can do as an individual," Newsome said. "It's about me having a collective group of people around me that see the game, who work at the game the same way that I work at it, have the same visions and goals that I do. Tiger [Woods] can go out there and shoot 68, but when you're a general manager, it's not about you. It's about all of the other good people that you have around you that help you and have the same vision and goals that you do."
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