Ozzie Newsome has become the first Black general manager in the National Football League after signing a five-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Newsomes promotion from senior vice president of football operations comes at a time when the league is under scrutiny from civil rights organizations for lack of diversity in coaching and management. There are currently two Black head coaches among the leagues 32 teams.
From a historical standpoint, this is very significant, said Newsome, 46, during a news conference at the Ravens' Owings Mills complex. I think a lot of things have been about timing and where you are and when you are some place. In my life, growing up in the South and in the state of Alabama, there have been a lot of times where I was one of the first.
Ravens owner Art Modell met and formed a relationship with Newsome, as a player and as an administrator, before the franchise moved from Cleveland.
''I am proud to do this for him, not because he asked me, but I think that he deserves it,'' Modell said. ''He is, without a question in my opinion, the best, most proficient personnel man in the NFL.''
As a player, Newsome redefined the tight end position, setting a record with 662 career receptions from 1978 to 1990, which earned him a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame. As an administrator, he was the architect of the Ravens' Super Bowl championship team in the 2000 season and has surprisingly transformed a salary-cap-strapped team into a competitive one this season by digging up unknown talent.
I guess you could say that it will open some doors because I am a minority, I've had some success and been a part of a Super Bowl-winning team, Newsome said. [But] I don't think I will be under the microscope more than usual. I've always looked at this job through the eyes of a player. You're always under the microscope. You just go out there and do the best that you can.
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