JUDGE: Smart Ravens promote Newsome to GM

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Clark Judge

There was a story going around about two months ago that Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome was in line to be Atlanta's next general manager. What it neglected to point out was that Newsome was under contract to the , had not been contacted and wasn't really interested in leaving Baltimore. Besides, why would the let Newsome get away? They wouldn't, and on Monday they demonstrated it by naming him their general manager and executive vice president, making him the league's only black GM. Good for them. And good for Newsome. Not only should the keep him; they should promote him. Monday's move accomplished both, with Newsome gaining a new five-year contract in addition to the title change. "It's something we've been working on for about six months, if not longer," said Newsome, who had been the team's senior vice president of football operations. "But it shouldn't change things. I'll basically be doing the same things that I have been the last two to three years." Baltimore should like the sound of that. During Newsome's tenure as one of the ' chief executives there is no club that has drafted as well. His first draft in 1996 produced two five-time Pro Bowlers in tackle and linebacker . In his second draft he chose linebackers and , safety and center — all starters in Super Bowl XXXV. In 1998, he found cornerback and wide receiver with his first two choices. Notice a trend here? I do. As long as Newsome's been in charge of the ' draft, Baltimore has been in charge of the NFL drafts. Of the ' nine first-round choices, all have became starters — including eight still with the team. Only Starks, who signed a $23 million contract with Arizona in March, is gone. "It's all the people who are involved in the process," said Newsome, trying to deflect praise. Maybe. I don't know. What I do know is that Newsome's reputation is untarnished and deserved. This is a Hall of Fame tight end who's demonstrating it's possible to be a Hall of Fame executive, too. When the went to the Super Bowl in 2000, they made it thanks to critical moves pulled off by Newsome — including the signings of quarterback , tight end and tackle and the draft of running back . "He was the architect of our Super Bowl team of two years ago, and he's the mastermind behind the transition we are undergoing now," owner Art Modell said in a prepared statement. "This new title and contract salutes what he does for the organization and should assure fans that the team is in good hands for the future." The aren't in "transition" as much as they are rebuilding, and they're going about the business in a familiar fashion — with young players gained through the draft. Newsome is happy with the results and confident the club can return to the top by next season. You better believe him. After this season he will have the cap room they did not this year, so they not only won't have to purge the roster again; they can start their free-agent shopping early. Besides, they'll have more potential starters from another draft. "We felt very good about our young players," Newsome said. "Particularly guys like Ray (Lewis), Peter (Boulware) and (Chris) McAlister, and that's proven out. What we've been able to do this year is play some of our younger players, see what we have there and start building a winning approach where we can evaluate them." Believe me, the will win again. And soon. And Ozzie Newsome is one of the primary reasons I'm confident. Baltimore rarely makes mistakes on players. Sure, they let get away after the 2000 season, but you would, too, after the season produced in his rookie year. The couldn't make Holmes a starter, so he went to a club that could. Simple as that. Newsome and his pro and college scouting staffs do a marvelous job of finding talent and grooming it, and the Atlanta aren't the only ones who should've noticed. There isn't a team in the league that wouldn't benefit from having Newsome as its general manager. Unfortunately for them only one can have him, and it's Baltimore. "This is long overdue," said Atlanta's Ray Anderson, the team's executive vice president and chief administrative officer. "Ozzie's done a terrific job there, and he deserves this." Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address,
Tagged: Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Texans, Kim Herring, Jeff Mitchell, Jamal Lewis, Jamie Sharper, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Patrick Johnson

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