Ozzie Newsome is about the most even-keeled person you could meet. He entered this year’s draft saying he was putting no extra emphasis or attention on it.
But even Newsome couldn’t hold back the emotions after making his final pick as the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens.
After turning in the final selection in the seventh round and making the call to defensive end Zach Sieler of small-school Ferris State, Newsome received a long and loud standing ovation from everyone in the room, including scouts, coaches and other front-office personnel that packed into the room.
Newsome has been the only general manager the Ravens have ever known – 22 years. He’ll be replaced by his longtime understudy, Eric DeCosta, next year, but will remain in an advisory role with the team.
After Newsome made the final pick, he hugged Head Coach John Harbaugh, President Dick Cass, Owner Steve Bisciotti and DeCosta with a huge smile and glassy eyes.
“Yes, it was emotional. The kid [Sieler] told me he was going to make me proud. That was a good part of it,” Newsome said minutes later at a press conference.
“There have been a lot of picks, a lot of wins, a lot of losses. Even though there’s some finality with that, there’s not finality with what I’m going to continue to do as a Baltimore Raven.”
Bisciotti did a metaphorical passing of the torch, switching Newsome’s seat in the team’s draft room with DeCosta’s. DeCosta, who started as an entry-level scout with Newsome at the franchise’s beginning, has always sat on Newsome’s right with the man in charge at the head of the table.
“I think I’ll probably still sit there,” DeCosta said with a shaky voice before cracking a joke. “Because I can see the board. It’s actually the best seat.”
Newsome has built two Super Bowl-winning rosters. He drafted two Hall of Famers, Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis, with his first two selections and more will likely be added to his resume with Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. He’s selected 18 Pro Bowlers.
Beyond that, he’s been a mentor, confidant and best friend to many of the Ravens’ front office members. Harbaugh and DeCosta each said so themselves Saturday evening.
“It is emotional. It is, there’s no doubt,” DeCosta said. “Ozzie has taught me a lot about football but more about life. That’s going to continue.
“He’s probably my best friend. We’ll be together for a lot more time. Not much is going to change.”
Harbaugh and Newsome have been together for 11 years and have formed a special relationship between general manager and head coach that not many organizations can claim.
“That was one of the greatest moments that I’ll ever experience in professional life,” Harbaugh said of Newsome’s last pick. “The good news is it’s not really the end, it’s kind of the beginning.
“He makes you your best self. You can have a good day and he makes you be better. You can have a bad day and he still brings out the best in you. He’s a mentor, he’s a friend, he’s a confidant. It’s been an amazing 11 years and I’m looking forward the next however many years we both walk on this Earth.”