The Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome became the NFL’s first African-American general manager in 2002 after being appointed to the position by the team’s former and late owner, Art Modell.
Once that barrier was torn down, some other teams followed and Newsome thought the league had overcome the problem of overlooking minorities. But once Newsome steps down as the Ravens GM at the end of the 2018 season, there will only be two African-Americans in that position, the Oakland Raiders’ Reggie McKenzie and the Miami Dolphins’ Chris Grier.
Former New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese won two Super Bowl titles before he was fired at the end of last season. At age 55, there should be a lot of interest in Reese, who is African-American, but there hasn’t been any. He was involved in the Giants front office for 23 years, the last 10 as general manager.
“I’ve always said, did I do my part as far as getting African-Americans ready? Are there some that are in the pipeline that I think have a chance to be a good candidate?” Newsome said. “But the league has to look at this.
“At one point I think we got to about six or seven, but that number has dwindled in the last four or five years. I don’t think that’s an Ozzie Newsome problem. That’s an NFL problem. I will try to assist in every way that I can, but that’s something that collectively as a league we are going to have to take a good look at.”
Like Reese, Newsome has won two Super Bowls as head of the Ravens’ day-to-day operations, first at the end of the 2000 season and then at the end of the 2012 season. Newsome is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a 13-year career as a tight end with the Cleveland Browns.