Touched down in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS - That dateline will be a mainstay on this blog until Feb. 5, as is now set up in The Big Easy for Super Bowl week.

The blitz will really begin tomorrow at Media Day and run through Sunday.

For now, until I can share some of the quotes from the Ravens’ touch-down (not touchdown) earlier today, I’ll pass along one final story from last week and then it will all be Nola-produced.

It’s pretty remarkable to think about what Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has accomplished in two separate careers in football.

He put together a Hall of Fame run as a tight end with the Cleveland Browns, recording 662 catches for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns over 13 NFL seasons.

Newsome then moved to the front office, eventually rising to Browns director of pro personnel in 1994 before becoming the league’s first African American general manager when he was promoted to the Ravens’ post in 2002. And he has flourished in management.

He’s been the architect of a successful franchise that has now been to four AFC championships and two Super Bowls in his time as part of the team’s leadership.

So what has been the difference between the two careers for Newsome?

“As a player, that’s something that you have to do as an individual. Football is the ultimate team sport, but if you want to achieve big, it’s something that has to come from within to get it done and we see it with Ray Lewis,” Newsome said. “But from this standpoint, it’s not as much about as what I can do as an individual.

“It’s about me having a collective group of people around me that see the game, who work at the game the same way that I work at it, have the same visions and goals that I do. So as a player, you can go out there and play. Tiger can go out there and shoot 68 because of Tiger. But when you’re a general manager, it’s not about you. It’s about all of the other good people that you have around you that help you and have the same vision and goals that you do.”

But has Newsome enjoyed his second profession?

“I enjoy it. What I used to say - and I only do it a couple of hours a day, maybe three hours - is watching tape by myself and evaluating players or evaluating the guys that were in the draft last year and seeing how well they do. But I’m enjoying another part of it,” Newsome said. “My relationship with Chykie Brown right and Bryan Hall, you don’t get relationships like that. I’m a buddy to those guys.

“And to talk with Morgan Cox. Do you all know who Barrett Jones is? He’s probably the most decorated offensive linemen that ever came out of Alabama. He’s going to be in the draft. And Morgan is telling me, ‘You know, I used to drive him to school every day.’ It’s stories like that, getting a chance to be around these guys.

“I’ve seen (Terrell) Suggs change and I’ve seen Ray (Lewis) change and I’ve seen Ed (Reed). To watch these guys grow and mature - evaluating players is one thing, doing contracts is another. Going down to the principal’s office to spend time with Steve (Bisciotti), that’s another thing. But to be there with those guys and watch those guys grow up, you can’t separate that. You can’t find anything better than that. So I enjoy it.”

Not many make the successful transition that Newsome has, and certainly not at the same level of success.

He credits former Ravens/Browns owner Art Modell for making it happen.

“The preparation, I think it came when I was asked to stay within the organization, I just asked Mr. Modell, I wanted to stay on the football side. And he allowed that,” Newsome said. “But the preparation came from being around Ernie Accorsi and Bill Belichick (in Cleveland), and being able to listen to those guys for the first two or three years and to gain as much education as I could get. We know how great Ernie was and we see how good Bill has been, but being able to learn from both of those guys really helped prepare me.

“The other thing that I think was so good is that whole group that came over from Cleveland, me, Theo (Ted Marchibroda), Schwartzie (Jim Schwartz), Kirk Ferentz, Mike Sheppard, Pat Hill, we were all just slackies together. We had all worked together, so when we moved over (to Baltimore), it was like, ‘OK, you know what? I have a title, but I’m just one of you guys. Let’s go to work.’ And it was fun.”