Eisenberg: Newsome's Voice Absent In Trade Controversy

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The Ravens also weren't happy. Owner Steve Bisciotti was so incensed that he took the extremely rare step of calling a reporter (Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun) in the middle of the night to vent. Head Coach John Harbaugh also offered what amounted to a finger-wag, explaining that they were playing with their reputation within the league.

Whose voice was missing? The guy who actually dealt with the Bears and could have looked the worst.

"I'm not going to throw the Bears under the bus" was Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome's real-time, immediate reaction, according to a fascinating account of the episode that ran on this website courtesy of Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president of public and community relations.

Given several chances to comment about it, Newsome never criticized, never raised his voice, never did anything other than somberly recount the basic facts. As the draft wrapped up, he put his final stamp on it, echoing Bisciotti's words to Hensley: "End of story."

To me, that was the reaction of a guy who has been in the league a lot longer than anyone else on his side; a guy who has lived in the cutthroat trenches of the NFL personnel world for several decades and understands better than just about anyone that, well, stuff happens.

When Bears GM Jerry Angelo, another veteran who has been around, immediately took the fall, saying they had screwed up and failed to confirm the deal with the league over the phone, you can be sure Newsome was thinking back to when he was on the other side of such a situation.

In 2003, the Ravens agreed to give the Vikings two picks to move up from the tenth slot in the first round to the seventh because they wanted to select quarterback Byron Leftwich, but the deal didn't happen because, the Ravens said, they couldn't get through to the league on the phone to confirm the deal.

The Vikings took a real hit then -- their window expired and two teams jumped ahead of them and made picks before they could get their selection in. Hindsight shows the Ravens came out ahead; instead of moving up and getting Leftwich, they drafted Terrell Suggs in their original slot.

This time, both teams ending up getting the player they wanted (cornerback Jimmy Smith for the Ravens, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi for the Bears) so no one lost out.

"We got the kid we wanted and he can really play," Newsome said in the war room, according to Byrne's account.

The Bears either got buyer's remorse or really did mess up -- probably the latter. It was nice that Angelo apologized, but his guilt certainly wasn't enduring. By Saturday he was telling reporters, "There is a hell of a lot worse that has been done, believe me, on the clock."

If the Kansas City Chiefs had jumped ahead of the Ravens and taken Smith Thursday night, things could have gotten heated. But the Chiefs jumped ahead while the Ravens idled and took receiver Jon Baldwin, enabling the Ravens to get their guy.

While everyone else was getting hot, Newsome basically shrugged. His football team got better. That's what mattered.

Regarding the Bears, he stuck strictly to the facts, saying the deal was never consummated because "the other team" (he never said their name) didn't get in touch with the league. That's the exact same comment he made eight years ago after the Vikings snafu, except that time he said "we" didn't get in touch with the league.

The old football pro wasn't about to cast aspersions this time. Stuff happens.

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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