Ozzie Newsome is no longer General Manager of the Ravens. But his nervous stomach can't tell the difference.
"Anxiety," said Newsome, when asked how he felt 24 hours before the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night. "Just like I have in the past."
Newsome is a legend, a Hall of Famer who drafted Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis with the first two picks in Ravens history. Newsome's legacy as one of the greatest all-time talent evaluators is secure, after building teams that helped the Ravens win two Super Bowls.
In his new role, Newsome remains an integral part of the team's front office though he stepped aside as general manager in January. He remains a friend, advisor, and confidant for General Manager Eric DeCosta. Their offices are right down the hall from each other. They met for about 90 minutes Wednesday morning going over possible scenarios, totally focused on acquiring talent that will help the Ravens compete at the highest level.
In the team's draft room over the next three days, Newsome will occupy his usual seat, at the head of the table with DeCosta to his immediate right. Newsome has always been there for the Ravens, and he remains there for DeCosta. They are closer than many fathers and sons.
"I've never seen a relationship like that," said DeCosta's wife, Lacie. "Neither of them have an ego. They just want to do the best for the team."
Newsome, 63, gave credit to Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti for having the foresight to finalize a general manager transition plan well in advance. Newsome isn't sure how many more years he'll continue to be heavily involved in the draft process. But for the next three days, he still looks forward to being in the draft room and the butterflies that come with it.
"I like being involved as much as I have been," Newsome said. "I don't know if over the course of the next two or three years, that may change. But right now, this is what I'm accustomed to doing and feeling – having the anxiety."
Newsome was asked what his job title is, now that he's no longer general manager. He chuckled.
"That has not been determined, haven't talked to Steve yet," Newsome said. "You know what? It doesn't matter.
"It's gone very well. Eric was thoroughly prepared for this opportunity. The first two or three months, he's done an awesome job. It's almost been seamless, his ability to do this job. The communication between him and I has really been about the same. I utilized him so much over the last four or five years, we're just accustomed to talking to each other. And that has not changed."
A few things have changed for Newsome. He has more free time. A little more time to play golf. A lot more time to watch tape.
When the Ravens are having discussions in the draft room, Newsome's wisdom and input will remain an asset.
"I've had time to do what I like to do," Newsome said. "I've been spending a majority of it just watching tape. I've been able to do a lot more of that this year. I understand what my role is, and I'm very happy to play that role, and still feel like I have an opportunity to contribute to this organization and help us win a Super Bowl."