December 18, 2004

Pay No Attention...

...to that man behind the curtain. The Wizard won't be coming back to Cleveland, the Baltimore Sun reports... (free registration required)

Ozzie Newsome will remain the Ravens' general manager and not become a candidate for the Cleveland Browns' vacancy, Ravens president Dick Cass said yesterday.

A Hall of Fame tight end for the Browns, Newsome was the architect of the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl championship team. He was officially named general manager in 2002, although he had been in charge of personnel decisions for the Ravens since they relocated from Cleveland in 1996.

Under his direction, the Ravens have drafted nine Pro Bowl players in nine years and signed such key free agents as Shannon Sharpe, Rod Woodson, Sam Adams and Michael McCrary. This year, Sports Illustrated ranked him 15th out of 101 on its most influential minorities list.

"Ozzie has told us that he is very happy with his job here in Baltimore," Cass said. "He is also under contract with the Ravens for several more years and is not free to talk to another NFL team."

Newsome, 48, was reportedly at the top of the Browns' list to become general manager and received an endorsement from Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown.

Because Newsome is under contract, the only way he could leave would be with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's permission. Newsome is designated as the Ravens' top decision-maker, and under NFL tampering rules, he couldn't make a lateral move unless Bisciotti granted it.

Meanwhile, Ravens director of player personnel Phil Savage is expected to receive strong consideration in the Browns' search.

Savage has been linked with the Dolphins' front-office opening because of his longtime connection with Nick Saban, the frontrunner for Miami's head coaching job. But Saban likely will have full authority in personnel matters, and Savage would prefer to have the final say as a general manager.

Tom Heckert, V.P. of player personnel for the Eagles is one new name that has been linked to the Browns opening. He joins New England's Scott Pioli, ex-Green Bay front office man Mike Reinfeldt, the Titans' Floyd Reese, and the Ravens' Phil Savage as early candidates for interviews, which will likely have to wait until the regular season is over to begin.

I like what I've heard about Russ Grimm as a possible head coaching candidate. The ex-Hog is the Steelers offensive line coach at present, and is said to have the ambition and the ability to be a good head man.

Posted by dan at December 18, 2004 1:05 AM