Modell names football director Newsome promoted to top front-office post

March 13, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM BEACH, Fla. - Ozzie Newsome says the biggest disappointment of his life was his failure to make the Super Bowl in his 13-year playing career with the Cleveland Browns.

Now, he hopes to do it as a front-office executive in Baltimore.

Newsome, 39, was named director of football operations of the Baltimore team by owner Art Modell yesterday, and he left little doubt he has super goals.

"I look at it now that my impact on the team at this point could be just as much as being out on the field and playing, and if we win it, then I'll be just as happy," he said.

Despite last year's 5-11 record, Newsome remembers 1994's 11-5 season and says the team can contend for the playoffs this fall.

"This team is already kind of put together," he said. "I was a part of putting it together with Mike [Lombardi] and Bill [Belichick]. All I've got to do is kind of put some finishing touches on it with the help of Ted [Marchibroda]."

Coach Belichick was fired and director of player personnel Lombardi forced to resign after the team's move to Baltimore was approved, and the team will start a new era with Newsome and Marchibroda in charge.

Newsome, who joined the front office as a scout in 1990 after he retired and also has been a part-time coach, becomes one of the highest-ranking black executives in the league.

Being a pioneer is nothing new for Newsome. When he came to Alabama in 1974, he was part of that school's fourth recruiting class to include blacks. He also was the only minority youngster in his grade-school class in Muscle Shoals, Ala. "That has been part of my life, probably 90 percent of it," he said.

There aren't any minority officials running an NFL team the way Bobby Beathard does in San Diego or George Young does in New York.

Under Modell's committee system, Newsome will share power with Marchibroda, and the director of business operations, Patrick Moriarty, will negotiate contracts.

Modell actually runs the team along with his son, David, and executive vice president Jim Bailey.

"Art's unique in that he's always been his own general manager, so he has the final say," Newsome said.

Newsome said he likes the committee approach.

"If you get enough people involved in decisions, it makes the final decisions a lot easier, because you get all the right information," Newsome said.

"I've got Jim Bailey I'm very comfortable working with, I've got David. The title is not as big to me as the responsibilities. . . . I know the impact I can make within the organization, so being the top guy, Newsomethat doesn't carry a whole lot of weight. Art's the top guy. We all work for him," he said.

Modell said of Newsome: "It would be hard to find someone better suited to head our football operations."

Explaining his responsibilities, Newsome said, "No. 1, the draft, trades, the acquisition of free agents, getting our players re-signed. Working with Ted as to which 46 guys are going to be dressing every week. Being able to have a good 80-man roster going into camp where it will be very competitive." Pub Date: 3/13/96

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