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Ozzie Newsome's Brilliance Built Ravens


As Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh were surrounded by hundreds of reporters at Tuesday's media day, Ozzie Newsome sat in the stands of the Superdome counting down the time until his media obligations were finished.

"Only 10 more minutes," Newsome said as he wiped the sweat off his forehead.

Newsome would prefer to let others take credit for the Ravens' run to Super Bowl XLVII. He's fine with staying in the background, keeping a low profile and allowing the coaches and players to soak up the spotlight.

"I work with good people," Newsome said. "We have a good staff. I really enjoy my job. I've had mine.

"I'm in a business where when you do well you make sure everybody else gets all the credit and when you do bad, then it's on you."

Newsome gives the praise and credit to those he works with, but his role in getting the Ravens to the Super Bowl isn't lost on those inside the organization.

He is the architect.

"Ozzie is tremendous," Harbaugh said. "We would in no way, shape or form be where we are right now without Ozzie Newsome."

Newsome has pieced together a championship roster through years of solid drafts, shrewd free-agency acquisitions and a meticulous management of the salary cap. 

"All of the circles that I've been around universally consider Ozzie one of the top executives, if not the top executive in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "There are so many things that make Ozzie great. First of all, Ozzie is a brilliant guy. He's a very smart man. He has knack for understanding what's important."

Newsome also has a knack for acquiring top talent.

Whether it's through the draft or free agency, Newsome finds players that fit the Ravens' system and can make an immediate impact.

Newsome has one of the best track records in the NFL when it comes to drafting players, and the Ravens' first three picks this season – linebacker Courtney Upshaw, offensive lineman  Kelechi Osemele and running back Bernard Pierce – have all turned into impact players their first season in the NFL.

The Ravens roster is full of home-grown talent like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda and Torrey Smith. Under Newsome's lead, the Ravens have selected future Hall of Famers like Lewis, Reed and Jonathan Ogden, and the players currently on the roster drafted by Newsome have made 31 Pro Bowl appearances.

Newsome also made critical moves this offseason that have proven to be key in the playoffs. The signings of Jacoby Jones and Corey Graham – both viewed at the time as minor moves – have paid big dividends. Jones has had a resurgent season as an explosive Pro Bowl kick returner and wide receiver, and Graham went from a special teams player to a starting cornerback who picked off Peyton Manning twice in the divisional round.  

The effective offseason moves extend beyond this season. In recent years, the Ravens had also added Bernard Pollard, Vonta Leach, Anquan Boldin and Bryant McKinnie – all four starters – through free agency or trades.

"On a yearly basis, he gives the Ravens a chance to compete for a championship," Boldin said. "Over the years, you can see the personnel decisions that he's made – not only through the draft, but also through free agency going out to get the help that his team needs – and he always seems to hit the nail on the head."

Newsome, 53, also had a Hall of Fame career a tight end in Cleveland, and his experience as a player commands respect from the locker room.

"We love him, just talking to him, picking his brain, being around him," Boldin said. "Ozzie is a former player himself, so he gets it."

As the Ravens go through all of the excitement surrounding Super Bowl week, Newsome will be somewhere in the background, looking to stay out of sight of all the media. Cameras and reporters will flock to Lewis and Harbaugh, but Newsome will fly largely under the radar.

And that's exactly how he wants it.  

"Bottom line, and most of all, he's a good man," Harbaugh said. "He's a good person and he cares about people."

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