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ON THE RECORD: Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome

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Clark Judge

 
   
 
  • The Baltimore have one of the best and brightest front-office executives in Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome. The guy knows how to draft. He knows how to run a club. And he knows how to shape a career. Newsome recently was promoted to general manager, with a five-year extension, making him the highest-ranking African-American executive with an NFL club. But it's not race that distinquishes Ozzie Newsome; it's smarts. The guy has a marvelous record of draft choices, hitting on people like , , , and , and never ... never ... missing on a first-round draft pick. We caught up with Ozzie this week and had him set us straight on the Pro Bowl, the and . Here's what he had to say: Q: How fair is the Pro Bowl voting? NEWSOME: I think there has been a consistency about it through the years back to when I was a player ... and even before then ... that reputation does carry weight in the vote. A young player normally makes it the second time he has a good season. You have that first time, and it's hard to get in there. A lot of times you'll see guys who were better one year, then made it the next. Still, because it's voted on by players and coaches it's probably one of the biggest accomplisments a player can get. Everyone wants to be named to the Pro Bowl. Q: Was there ever a time you felt you deserved to go but were snubbed? NEWSOME: Yes. I remember in the strike year of 1982 I basically had a better year than I did in '81 but I wasn't chosen. I think Dan Ross from Cincinnati went. And I wasn't involved in '79, either, when two players from same team went. I had what I thought was a pretty good year, yet Dave Casper and Raymond Chester (from Oakland) went. So I had some disappointments there. Then in '83 I think I led the league in receptions, and I didn't make it. So I suffered through it. But, as I said, it's a timing thing. When I came in, you had Russ Francis, Casper and Chester, and it was just hard to beat those guys. Then it went from there to Kellen (Winslow), Todd (Christiansen) and me, and someone was going to be disappointed. Q: Is there a more equitable way of deciding on Pro Bowl teams than there is now? NEWSOME: No, because the players get a chance to vote; the coaches get a chance to vote and now the fans get a chance. I still think if it were left up to the GMs it wouldn't be as fair. And if it were left up to writers it wouldn't be as fair because you'd have some people voting for players they hadn't seen. This is as close as you can get because you have offensive linemen voting for defensive linemen and receivers voting for defensive backs. And that's how it ends up playing out. Q: Does Brian Billick get your Coach of the Year award for what he's done with this year's ? NEWSOME: The only coach I would have to wait to see is what happens to is Andy Reid (of Philadelphia). It's amazing what he's done with three different quarterbacks. But for us to have seven wins and be in contention, Brian and his staff have done a heck of a job. I know Philadelphia lost McNabb, but we lost . Still, for the to lose a quarterback who was basically 50 percent of their offense and not drop a game since is remarkable. Q: What do you like most about this year's ? NEWSOME: That they've been competitive; that as young as we are they've worked the whole year. I'm at basically every practice, and these guys come prepared — which is another testimony to Brian and his staff. Q: How soon do you see the being a playoff factor ... or a Super Bowl contender ... again? NEWSOME: I think after the draft next year we could potentially be saying we're a playoff team, just as we did in Brian's second year. I've got to wait until we go through free agency and the draft and see whom we acquire. But if we can get four to five players who make a difference and stay healthy, I think we'll go into training camp thinking we can go into playoffs — not just because of how we are but also because of the way the league is, where there's not a dominant team. Q: Can you bring me up to date on the future of ? NEWSOME: We had two players who had the same surgery as he did — (Alan) Ricard and — and neither one missed a beat. It's a four-month rehab process, and he had the surgery on Dec. 10. So I see no reason why we can't open mini-camp in May with Ray at full go. Q: Going into the season we said you must emerge with the quarterback position solved. Do you think you've done that? NEWSOME: I think we're in a better position than we were in the beginning. When Chris (Redman) got hurt we were not fully able to evaluate him. We have been able to fully evaluate Jeff (Blake), and we'd like to bring back him. He's a UFA (unrestricted free agent), and we'll fight to bring him back. If we go into the situation next year with Jeff and Chris we're in a better position than we were in 2002. Q: And what's the latest on Redman's back? NEWSOME: It'll be determined if he needs surgery after the season. He might. Q: What should Santa bring the Baltimore for Christmas? NEWSOME: We need a dominant inside player on defense and another 10-sack pass rusher. If we get those things on defense — a or "Goose" (Tony Siragusa) type player and another player to rush the edge and provide double-digit sacks for us — we'll be OK. Oh, and one other thing: We could use a gifted wide receiver. If Santa can deliver us those three things then I could tell you that we'll be in the playoffs. Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address, cjudge@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Raiders, Eagles, Ravens, Todd Heap, Chris McAlister, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware

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