Ozzie Newsome opening statement: "Thank you again for coming out. On Friday, I talked about how difficult it is to sometimes call players and talk to them about terminating their contracts. Sometimes it can get emotional because of what they have done for this organization both on the field and off. But also, there are some opportunities to make a call like I did on Thursday night to Brandon. The emotions that he had on that phone, the excitement, how happy he was, it was just something that my wife said, 'You are on a high!' And I was. Because just talking with Brandon and how he felt, I could just feel it through the phone. The other part of that is the whole building. When everyone knew that he had agreed to the contract, I think the whole building was lifted up. That is one of the great things about the job, about a player like Brandon and a person who I first saw down at the Senior Bowl. When you see a kid from a small school like Brandon and to see how he competed with those guys down there, and then we took him through the process and were able to draft him, and every year that he has been here, he has gotten better."
John Harbaugh opening statement: "Just to piggyback that part of it, watching [Williams] on that grainy tape that we got and to see the player on there ... You go through tape, and you work hard and you watch player after player after player, and then all of a sudden, a guy pops off the tape in college football from a smaller school. Yet, he was really exceptionally well coached. He had a great college coach, a great college D-line coach and head coach who had developed him. You knew you were looking at an elite – potentially – defensive tackle. To see that come to fruition four years later is really just … As a coach, it is the most rewarding thing you can go through. The thing that for me [that] strikes me is that this is a really good move, a really good investment for us because of who he is – the kind of player he has been and also the kind of player he is going to be. Because when you make that investment, you make that investment going forward. You are investing in the player you are going to get. But, past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Here is a person, here is a man, who does nothing but work as hard as he can work with as good as an attitude as you could possibly have and go out there and attempt to dominate every single play. That is his goal. Then, to have the moment when you (looks at Williams) came in the other day, I think it was Friday after you were getting ready to get the paperwork figured out, you sat on the couch and you sat there for what – about an hour? [We were] just talking and laughing and relaxing and telling stories. He said, 'This is pretty nice in here.' I said, 'Hey, you can come in here anytime you want – now, especially. I expect you in here.' (laughter) That is the next step. With something like this comes a great responsibility. You don't mind as a coach – as a matter of fact, you relish – trusting a person like this with that kind of responsibility and the leadership role that goes with this opportunity. It is exciting. I am thrilled that Brandon Williams is part of our championship run going forward."
NT Brandon Williams opening statement: "First off, I want to say that I am glad to be home. I just want to thank a few people before I start. First of all, thank God for giving me the ability and just giving me the chance to go out there and pretty much put it all on the field every day and every Sunday. I want to thank my mom for just raising me the best she could and me and my older brother … She is my hero. Just waking up every day and seeing how hard she worked just to provide for us – it ties into me being so humble, because I have seen her struggles for so long, and I have seen her just grind for so long to now. To be the man I am today and to be able to help her now, definitely [is great]. Also, I would like to thank my lovely fiancée Alyssa Karel for just having my back since college. Even when I was a broke college kid moving around porta potties, she was there, literally. There was a time when I was in Arkansas doing some porta potties in the park, and she came and brought me McDonald's breakfast and sat on the back of the truck with me and ate it. She has been there for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I thank you so much for that and for being the loudest fan in the stadium on Sundays and just supporting me no matter what, but also [for] keeping me humble when I come home knowing that I am a future husband and father first. Also, I would like to thank SportsTrust, my agency, Bill Johnson, and everyone else from the top to the bottom. They are an amazing group, amazing agents. They treat me so well, and they feel like family. I really do love them for helping me get to where I am. They are amazing. I do not know if I would be here with anyone else, so I appreciate them. Also, next is obviously these two fine looking men right next to me, Ozzie and coach Harbaugh for giving a guy like me from a Division II school a chance to get on the stage and show them what I got. I really do appreciate both of you. I can still remember the call like it was yesterday – me getting a call from a Maryland number, and the first thing I could think of in my head [was] 'crab cakes and football!' (laughter) Then, I talked to Ozzie and coach 'Harbs,' and after coming off a championship run and giving me a chance to be a part of this amazing defense … It really made me feel great, because already with them having one of the No. 1 defenses in the league then [and] just to think that I am good enough to come and kind of add it to it, it really kept me humble and kept me happy just to be here and to be in this organization. It is an amazing organization. Also, Steve Bisciotti, thank you for picking me and finding me and I guess being able to happily invest in me for the next five years and at the beginning. A man like that … Just a hard worker knowing his background … And also when [former Ravens defensive line coach] 'C.B.' [Clarence Brooks] passed, and [Bisciotti] gave us two of his private jets to go down there to see [Brooks'] funeral and to be with him and his family and [Brooks' wife] Justa, it meant a lot. It really meant a lot to me. That is the kind of guy I can play under no matter what. That is the kind of owner I love to be around and be on the team with, because that right there shows me how dedicated and how much family means to him. It is definitely hard to leave an organization like this when you know that you have an owner who is such a great, great man like that. Last, 'C.B.,' thank you for all the yelling, screaming and pushing me. I knew that you saw everything that I could be. When I first started, he saw this day, and he pushed me until I [got here]. I'm here now. I just thank him for everything. Thank you to the City of Baltimore for sticking by me, for coming to the games and just being the heartbeat of the team. I really do appreciate the fans. Without them, we are nothing. I really do appreciate everything they have done, especially in this free agency frenzy. I can definitely tell who the real fans are and who really appreciated me as a person, not only a player. You guys are amazing, and I am happy and blessed to come back here and call the City of Baltimore home."
Since it was your first time in free agency, you kind of did not know what it would be like. Coming back to the Ravens, did that surprise you? Was it a relief? What were kind of your expectations? (Jamison Hensley)
Williams: "It was a big-time relief. Going into free agency, most of you were there the last day when we had to clean out our lockers. I didn't [clean out my locker]. Everything is still there, even I think my last suit that I still had in there. I think it is still in there. I wanted to come back. I figured I would kind of try to leave hints and kind of speak it into existence and keep everything there so they know I am going to be there. It was a crazy experience. I was anxious not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing where I am going to be. I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I was trying to be strong, kind of go through it, I guess just trying to figure out where I was going to be. It was tough, but in the end, it worked out perfectly, and I am happy for it. I am glad to be with Baltimore. I told coach Harbaugh this: When it got down to it, I kind of just could not see myself in any other color but purple and black. (Newsome: "I wish I knew all of that before I negotiated that deal. Now, I am going to start checking lockers.") (laughter)
Ozzie talked about the phone call and how excited and emotional it was. What do you remember about that phone call and how emotional was that call for you? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Williams: "It was very emotional. This whole weekend has been emotional. That phone call … Knowing that I was going to continue being a Raven … Talking to Ozzie and just hearing the happiness and joy in his voice just kind of put a stamp on it that I made the right decision, I made the right choice. It just felt good to have your GM calling you on the phone and hearing him burst into excitement and have him laughing on the phone and all that stuff. It made me feel very honored to be here and play under him. It just meant the world to me and [I was] trying to hold in tears and trying to talk to him on the phone. It was an amazing experience – very amazing."
Ozzie, when it came down to talking dollars and you ran it by Steve Bisciotti and ran it by senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, how long of a consideration was that? Because it was a record-breaking number in terms of the nose tackle position. (Jerry Coleman)
Newsome: "Well, it started on Brandon in Jupiter, [Florida at the Ravens' offseason planning meeting]. We came to a number that we felt like would be fair for Brandon and fair for us. But then, there is always an adjustment that has to happen based on, No. 1, how high the cap went, which went, I think, up 12 million. Then, some of the deals that were made in the early part of the day and the early part of the week … So, it was a conversation I think on Thursday, Thursday morning … We had a conference call with Steve – Dick [Cass], John, Eric [DeCosta] and I. We talked it through. Before the deal got completely done, I got another call from Steve early Thursday evening basically saying to me, 'Do what you have to do to get the deal done.' So, having an owner like that really helps myself and Pat [Moriarty] to be able to put together a deal that can keep good players on our football team."
Brandon, I saw that you tweeted out, "Raven for life." This gives you a good opportunity to do that, and you look at some of the great Ravens like T Jonathan Ogden, LB Ray Lewis, G Marshal Yanda. How important is that to you to be a Raven your whole career? (Kirk McEwen)
Williams: "It is very important, because now-a-days you do not see that a lot. Usually after the first contract or sometimes before, you are on to the next team. Definitely being able to have a staple in a city, in a team for the long haul is what you want – especially if it is the team that drafted you. Growing up looking at Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti [Ngata], Marshal [Yanda], Jonathan Ogden – seeing the impact that they have in this community, in the city and on this team – it just spoke volumes. So, I want to be just like that. I want to be like the Ray Lewises or the Terrell Suggses or the Haloti Ngatas of the team and of the city – to give back and even after I'm done with the game, I can still be in Baltimore and have an impact in the community."
Ozzie, how important is the nose tackle to the Ravens? Did that go under the consideration that you guys all talked about in deciding to bring Brandon back? There has been a tremendous tradition of guys at that spot? (Dave Ginsburg)
Newsome: "I will let John talk about it, because that is more into football. But our ability to play with six and seven in the box is huge. But coach can talk more about that than I will."
Harbaugh: "Being strong down the middle is probably important in every single sport. When the Ravens have been at their best, historically, they have been strong down the middle on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. When you are strong down the middle right at the front point in your defense, it gives you a chance to build from there, and that is the idea here with Brandon."
John mentioned with the new contract, sometimes there comes a new role with new responsibility and leadership. How much are you welcoming that and looking forward to that? (Glenn Clark)
Williams: "With open arms. With great power, comes great responsibility. I am definitely welcoming it with open arms. I have already talked to some of the defensive linemen. I am talking about [Michael] Pierce; I talked to [Brent] Urban; I talked to Carl [Davis] and all of them. I just kind of told them, 'Let's get ready to go.' It is time to turn it into another gear. It is coming to be that time again. I really feel that this year it is going to be … I am really going to put it on my shoulders to get the job done up front and the front seven, day-in and day-out. It is not … We started No. 1, and we did not finish No. 1 [in 2016], so definitely, it is time to finish and get to where to where we need to go."
Can you reflect a little bit about how far you have come? You talked about the porta potties. I assume you are never going to pick up a porta potty again. What was it like when you see that dollar amount, considering where you have come from? (Ryan Mink)
Williams: "Oh man, it was a blessing. I am surprised I didn't cry up in Ozzie's office, because I have been crying so much this weekend, starting from the call and then with the cake. I just have been reminiscing looking at my kids, seeing that they never have to go through what I went through growing up. Growing up, it was tough. I had everything I needed, not everything I wanted. But at the same time, there were definitely some big-time lows growing up. For me coming from that, whether it be not having a stable home to live in or whether it have been just me and my journey through football going from high school to prep school to Division II and then making my way to the NFL … I look back and think about all of the hours and all the hardships I had to go through and all the extra ... I guess the extra running or weightlifting, just the extra hard work I had to endure just to get to where I wanted to go, it all paid off. That is a wonderful and amazing feeling. That is to anything. It feels good to be I guess a role model to kids to see it does not matter where you come from or no matter what kind of cards you have been dealt to know that as long as you have hard work and a strong mindset and just the will to work, then you can achieve anything."
Brandon, people talked a lot about Giants NT Damon Harrison's deal. Is that something that was kind of a blueprint or a goal to beat that? Or was that not really a consideration? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Williams: "Obviously, it was a starting point, I guess. You look at his deal, and then I guess you kind of go from there. Look at what he got and, I don't know … Mostly, I wasn't worried about his deal. It's not my job to worry about his deal; it's my job to play football. My agency, SportsTrust, did a great job doing the numbers, crunching the numbers and talking to Ozzie [Newsome] and coach [John] Harbaugh and getting the job done. [Harrison] tweeted me out; he said, 'Good job. Looks like you're the best now. See you on the field.' So now, I've got to prove my worth, so I'm ready to do that."
John, you guys have made some defensive additions at this point. Where do you see the defense as of now, and what areas would you like to see even more? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Harbaugh: "You know, Jeff, you've written extensively on that. So, I think you have a good feel for it. It's just exactly what you're saying, and I think everybody knows we're just one piece at a time, and I feel like Ozzie [Newsome] and [assistant general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and the coaches are all doing a great job of building those pieces, one piece at a time. You try to do it where you can, when you can, and this was one that we could do right out of the gate in free agency – really before free agency, as Ozzie said. We were planning on trying to get it done, and it's a big piece that is filled – literally and figuratively, a really big piece, and really the main piece for our defense to start with. Now we have to work our way out to the positions that we've talked about. And of course, it's in the secondary; we have to look at the WILL linebacker spot, and we're always looking for a pass rusher, right Ozzie? That's always part of it. So, all of those things come into play."
Ozzie, you've had the benefit of having some pretty good interior linemen here over the years. Where do you see NT Brandon Williams fitting in among the likes of those guys? (Jamison Hensley)
Newsome: "I think he's right up there with all of them. You start with 'Goose' [Tony Siragusa], Sam [Adams], Kelly Gregg, Haloti [Ngata] … I mean, I could just keep going and keep going. But he's right up there as a player, but also as a person. The big thing about guys like Brandon is it takes two. He'll make the play in the run game, but he also does a good job of pushing the pocket. So, he's right in there with all of those guys."
Ozzie, in terms of where you guys are with the salary cap and money remaining, are you comfortable with where you are right now, with what's been allocated and what's remaining? (Jerry Coleman)
Newsome: "Yes, yes, yes."
With DB Lardarius Webb, you talked about the door not being closed, but he put a tweet out saying goodbye to Baltimore. Is it over with Lardarius in your mind? (Jerry Coleman)
(NEWSOME) "Didn't I address that on Friday?" (Reporter: "You had said something about…") "I addressed it on Friday. I'm sorry you weren't here."
I didn't know if you had said the door would still be open or not? (Jerry Coleman)
Newsome: "Ask your colleagues."