It’s rare to have one person so beloved by two teams who are bitter rivals, but that is the case with Ozzie Newsome. His playing days were spent with the Cleveland Browns and his post-playing career with the Baltimore Ravens.
He was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1956 and went to college at Alabama from 1974 – 1977. During his time at Alabama, he had 102 receptions for 2,070 yards and 16 touchdowns. In his senior season, he was named a Consensus All-American. Newsome was drafted by the Browns with the 23rd pick in the 1978 Draft.
Newsome played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Browns. He was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team as he had 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns. Additionally, he was named to three Pro Bowls in 1981, 1984 and 1985. He also played in 10 playoff games for the Browns but never accomplished much in those games as he averaged just 37.3 yards per playoff game. When he retired he was the all-time leader in receptions and yards by a tight end.
In 1991, when the Browns hired Bill Belichick as their new coach, Newsome moved from a player on the field to a member of the Front Office. Under Belichick’s tutelage, Newsome helped coach, scout college and professional players and finally in 1995 he was named the Director of Pro Personnel. When the Browns moved to Baltimore, Ozzie moved with them as the VP of Player Personnel, which meant he was the de facto GM. In November of 2002, the Ravens gave him the title of GM, making him the first African-American general manager in the NFL.
Ozzie Newsome, not Ozzie Smith, was the original “Wizard of Oz” as he would make amazing and intricate catches. He was a consummate leader on the field which helped him when he moved into a Front Office position. While he is associated with the hated Baltimore Ravens, he will always be a member of the Browns to so many fans. In 1999, when the Browns came back into existence, Ozzie Newsome got elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.