*JOHN BROWN PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
General Manager/Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome & WR John Brown
Ozzie Newsome opening statement:"Thanks for coming out. I'd like to begin with [that] we are still heavily involved in free agency right now – trying to improve our football team. But today, I'm here with John [Brown] to talk about him. I first remember John – we were at the Combine four years ago – and [assistant general manager] Eric [DeCosta] and I, we were sitting with some other coaches and some other GMs, and John ran his 40- [yard dash]. I remember I said, 'Coach,' and the other coaches turned to me and said, 'I guess we'll all be going to Pittsburg State this spring,' and, you know, he posted that [fast] number. So, he's had the career with Arizona. The thing about John is he can take the top off the defense. A lot of times when you're dealing with a vertical receiver, they have a very limited route tree; John does not. John can run every route in the route tree, and we think that's going to be important for us as the type of weapon he'll be used. The other aspect that attracted John to us is that we feel like his best football is still in front of him, that he will continue to get better, and we will be the beneficiary of that."
John Brown opening statement: "I'm just really excited to be here. Just thinking about going through free agency, and everything I had going on, I felt like this was the best fit for me. Looking at the past few years with the Ravens, way before my time, they like to use a lot of receivers with speed. I feel like I can come in and help this team."
John, when did you start talking to the Ravens, and when did you feel like it got serious? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Brown:"I started talking to them as soon as free agency started. It was just … My agent was going back and forth, and I knew [the Ravens] were really serious about me, because they kept calling. I reached out to Tony Jefferson, and he was telling me, 'This is the place to be. You're coming here.' He kind of told me where I was going to be at – but just hearing the excitement in his voice, I knew this was a place I could call 'home' and I'll be happy."
What were your impressions, from afar, of QB Joe Flacco? Is his big arm one of the things that attracted you to Baltimore? (Luke Jones)
Brown: "Just being with a quarterback that is really great – leaving one [Carson Palmer] and going to another one – and feeling like I could get a connection with him. He throws a lot of deep passes, and I feel like I can kick in to gear to go get those passes. I'm just excited to work with him."
Newsome:"I like that extra gear he has, too." (laughter)
In a general sense, could you talk about your pursuit of wide receivers during this free agency period? (David Ginsburg)
Newsome:"When I spoke at the Combine – for those of you that were there – I talked about changing the faces in our wide receiver room. A lot of that became because we have two guys that are UFAs – Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro – and we have some young guys. When we had our personnel meeting here, then the meeting down in Jupiter [Fla.] with [owner] Steve [Bisciotti], that was a topic of conversation. If you dial back to a year ago, we talked about wanting to get our defense stronger, and we did that. Then we said that we wanted to run the football, and we were able to do that. Well, the next piece is to get a better passing game – that comes with protection. Hopefully Alex [Lexis] and [Marshal] Yanda are going to be healthy, and signing James Hurst, who has been a starter for us, [will be important]. But we have to have some other weapons for Joe [Flacco]. Having a strong running game, with pass protection, if we give Joe some weapons … Then if we improve in the passing game, then maybe that will be enough to help us get over that hump – those one or two games that we need to win in order to get us into the playoffs. As I've stated before, once we get in the playoffs, we make some things happen."
We expected to have two guys talking today. Could you talk about what happened with WR Ryan Grant and why that deal never came to fruition? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Newsome: "Sure. Well, when you get involved in the open tampering period, you're negotiating deals, and several deals at one time, and then you come to an agreement. But with those agreements, it's always that … We have no ability to get a physical on a player before we come to an agreement in principle, and that was the case with both Ryan [Grant] and John [Brown]. When we got them both here late Wednesday night and they had the physicals, I did not get the results of Ryan's physical until about 4 p.m. yesterday. With some consultations between our doctors and other doctors around the country – just to make sure – they came back that he did not pass our physical. To me, that's not a football decision; that's a medical decision that I have no control over."
When you were talking with WR Ryan Grant and brought him in, was there any concern for him that he would not pass that physical? (Jamison Hensley)
Newsome:"No, we do a good job. George [Kokinis, senior personnel assistant], Vince [Newsome, director of pro personnel] and Chad [Alexander, assistant director of pro personnel] do a good job of tracking guys' injuries during the season. So we knew he had the ankle injury the latter part of the season with the Redskins, but he had passed their postseason physical. So, we had no indications that it could've been there."
You hear about players flunking a physical on one team and passing it on another. Does each team have their own standard of what they'll accept or not? (Stan White)
Newsome:"Yes they do – they really do. Over the years, having [former athletic trainer] Bill Tessendorf and [vice president & head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith], who were both trainers when I was a player, I thought we have been very fair. I thought we've been more on the players' side when it comes down to physicals, because they have such a history of being around these players. I just trust those guys. There have been other times that were on lesser guys, that we thought we were going to sign during the season, and they don't pass the physical. So you sit there and you just wait until you hear from the doctor. We have a scale, and they give me some explanation, and then we move forward."
You have been scrutinized about the decision because of the size of the deal. It was highly scrutinized around the league. Is that concerning you at all? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Newsome: "No. We evaluated the player. John [Harbaugh] looked at the player, [wide receivers coach] Bobby Engram looked at the player, [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] looked at the player. We felt there was a role. It would have been interesting, if we had been sitting here a year from now – or two years from now – and those same people that are scrutinizing us for doing it, what they would have been thinking. They'd probably be hiding in a hole somewhere. But that's what we have to deal with. You can scrutinize John's [Brown] deal; it's a one-year deal. That's what he wanted, and that's what we were able to get. I don't get caught up in that. I could talk chapter and verse about people scrutinizing our deals. They even scrutinized our deal with our quarterback, but he's won a Super Bowl for us."
Did the WR Ryan Grant situation have any impact on the pursuit of WR Michael Crabtree? (Bo Smolka)
Newsome: "No. As I stated early on, we were going to change the faces in our wide receiver room. If we had signed Ryan, we still would have pursued Michael Crabtree."
Have you been able to create more flexibility, salary cap-wise? (Todd Karpovich)
Newsome: "Yes, we have created the ability to potentially get two to three more – which we feel like would be quality players – to come to this football team. The thing that you have to also realize is that as teams are signing players now, other players are getting pushed out into the market. We've made a living on what we would consider 'cap casualties.' We've made a living on that – on guys getting pushed out. So we will also be working that market. But yes, we've created enough room to be able to acquire more players to come here to Baltimore."
Where are you at health-wise? There are some talks about sickle cell. Where do you feel like you're at managing that in this stage of your career? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Brown: "I'm healthy. I'm feeling good. Sickle-cell was never part of the problem. It was just something we couldn't decide on or what they could find. So, they just used it as a 'sickle cell trait' until they found I had a cyst in my spine. I'm fine; I'm healthy, and I know how to handle the situation."
Ozzie Newsome has been clear that they want to reset the receivers and change the look. Was that something that was attractive to you that you could be a part of, being one of the new guys coming in here and being one of the leaders of a young receiver group? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Brown:"Oh yes, that was the main thing, as far as looking into free agency. Seeing that they were getting rid of everybody, and I could come in and fill in one of those pieces to the puzzle [was intriguing]. [I want to] just come in and help the team the best way I can."
You said the sickle cell has never affected you? You can play in Denver and all those different places – it doesn't affect you at all? (Stan White)
Brown:"No, it doesn't affect me at all."
Ozzie, you have mentioned changing the look of the receivers' room. Have you closed the door on the idea of WR Mike Wallace or WR Michael Campanaro coming back? Have you discussed things with them? (Bo Smolka)
Newsome:"No, we have not closed the door on either one of them. I've had multiple conversations with Mike Wallace's agent. We've been in contact with Campanaro's agent. This time of the year – as we are looking, they are looking. They have to find the best situation for themselves as we try to find the best situation for us. But we've had conversations with both of their agents."
Where did you get the nickname "Smokey?" (Jamison Hensley)
Brown:"My grandma's boyfriend when I was first born, that's how I got the nickname, because of my skin color." (Reporter: "Not about the speed?") *"No." *(laughter)
Can you talk about the level of interest you see in WR Michael Crabtree? (Jamison Hensley)
Newsome:"No." (Reporter: "No?") "No. I mean, we played against him the last two years, and all of [the media] and our fans in Baltimore have seen what he's been able to do against us and against some pretty good corners that we have. That would probably let you know why we have a certain level of interest."
Ozzie Newsome said you wanted a one-year deal here. Do you look at this as a "prove it" year for you, where you show everyone what you're capable of being? (Jamison Hensley)
Brown:"Yes. I wanted the one-year deal, because the last two years I was fighting through injuries and didn't produce how I was supposed to. I feel like with a one-year deal, to go somewhere where I feel at home and be able to play football and be happy again, I feel like this was the best fit for me."
You talked about S Tony Jefferson reaching out to you to recruit. Do you think you'll be doing the same thing recruiting for the Ravens? (Kevin Richardson)
Brown:"Who me?" (laughter) "Oh yeah, of course! If it comes down to it, I will do the same thing. Everything Tony told me about the place – and I've only been here for two days – I mean, it's amazing."
You got a wide receiver, and potentially another. Has a tight end shifted into priority? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Newsome: "Yes – pass catchers, yes. We have been in conversations with tight ends. We still are in conversations with tight ends. So that could also be a position that we add to our roster, if possible."