Newsome to maintain his role in front office

Vice president to make decisions on draft picks, free-agent acquisitions

January 20, 1999|By MIKE PRESTON | MIKE PRESTON,SUN STAFF

Despite the hiring of Brian Billick as Ravens coach yesterday, vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome will still make the final decision as far as draft choices and free-agent acquisitions.

Ravens owner Art Modell has come under criticism for the team not having a general manager, and there was strong speculation that Modell was willing to turn the team's football operations over to Mike Holmgren before he was hired by the Seattle Seahawks.

But Holmgren had been a head coach for seven years with Green Bay, and his Packers had appeared in the last two Super Bowls. Billick has impressive credentials as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator, but he simply doesn't carry enough clout yet to run his own show.

"The success of this organization will depend on Brian and his staff coaching the talent, and my staff working to find the kind of players they want and need through the draft and free agency," Newsome said. "We'll continue to work hand-in-hand with the coach just as we did before."

According to Newsome, Phil Savage will remain as the Ravens' director of college scouting and James Harris as director of pro personnel in charge of free agency. Previous Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, fired Dec. 28, had a major role in identifying free agents he wanted the team to sign.

Marchibroda was instrumental in the team signing receiver Floyd Turner, fullback Roosevelt Potts, quarterback Jim Harbaugh, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa and cornerback Eugene Daniel. Billick will have significant input as well.

"This hire wasn't about control," Newsome said. "I was the first to submit if we could have gotten Mike Holmgren because I wanted to get the best head coach possible and was willing to work with him or below him in any capacity as long as it was best for the team. Brian and I will work hard to get the best people for this football team.

"From what we understand, Brian is a good leader, very organized and has a progressive mind. He believes in working within the structure and having the team concept. He worked very well with [Vikings coach] Dennis Green."

Newsome points out that Billick has been able to develop talent.

"Take a look at some of the guys he has worked with -- guys like [receivers] Randy Moss, Jake Reed and [quarterback] Brad Johnson," Newsome said. "What is important is that you not just have talent, but you develop it as well."

Billick has no problem with the system in place. He pointed out Newsome's draft record in selecting players like offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, linebackers Peter Boulware, Ray Lewis and Jamie Sharper and defensive backs Kim Herring and Duane Starks.

"It's about relationships," said Billick. "Certainly you have to have talent. Certainly, you have to have structure. But it also has to do with the passion of those relationships for the game.

"I respect Ozzie and the stature he has around the league. They have something here despite working under some extremely difficult circumstances. I think we can all work close together."

Super Bowl

Denver Broncos (16-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (16-2)

Site: Pro Player Stadium, Miami

When: Jan. 31, 6: 18 p.m. TV: Chs. 45, 5

Line: Broncos by 7

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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