By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
Ozzie, Part Two: Ozzie Newsome’s visit to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse on Monday night was mostly a stroll down memory lane in his former life as the great Browns tight end who spanned the eras of quarterbacks Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar.
But Newsome’s post-playing career as general manager of the Baltimore Ravens and a long-time member of the NFL competition committee is equally impressive.
Here are a few words of wisdom from Newsome in those roles:
What makes quarterbacks good?
Newsome: “I’ve learned some things since I’ve become an expert about quarterback because I’ve made so many mistakes in trying to pick them. Two things that a quarterback must have are poise and accuracy. Bernie was a highly accurate quarterback and he was never flustered in the pocket. You can give me the strong arms, you can give me the athletes, but if they don’t have those two traits, then it’s going to be tough for them to be a success in the league.”
Me: Think of the, what, 17 quarterbacks who have started a game for the Browns in their expansion era. Not a single one of them had poise and accuracy.
How have the Ravens managed to be consistent contenders for 15 or so years?
Me: That, of course, is the jersey number of Ray Lewis. I consider Lewis the second-best linebacker in the history of the NFL, behind Lawrence Taylor.
Newsome: “What we’ve done is … take a team-first attitude. At some point you’ve got to turn it over to the locker room. We’ve got some great guys in the locker room that know and understand what it takes to win and they want to win a lot worse than I do and they have more control because they play on Sunday.”
Me: This phenomenon occurred in all the great Browns teams I covered. Eventually, the players take over. When the team is capable of competing, that’s what will happen.
What to make of the Dave Duerson and Junior Seau suicides?
Newsome: “We’ve got a lot of studies going on, (involving) some of the best surgeons in the world. You look at some of those guys having those issues, they led with their head a lot. We’re trying to eliminate that. We all sat there on Sundays and Mondays and look for the big time hits. Most of those hits come when guys are using their shoulders and heads. So we’ve got to go back to coaching the game of football where your head is on the side. When we were growing up playing football, your head was on the side, so we’ve got to go back doing that.”
Me: I’ve said this before. James Harrison is the pre-eminent headhunter of his time and one of the all-time cheap-shot artists in NFL history. (He happens to be also a good player.) I suspect he will pay a hefty price for his head shots in the long run.
What about comments made by Trent Richardson at the NFL combine regarding Lewis? Such as, ‘Why would Uncle Ray stand in front (of me)?’
Newsome: "What I will tell you is we’ve got a freshman at Alabama that’ll probably make us forget about Trent Richardson already. They’re that good down in Tuscaloosa right now. Trent’s a physical player. So is Ray. They asked (Ravens top draft choice) Courtney Upshaw about playing against Trent, and he said, ‘I think I can get him on the ground.’ That’s what’s fun … When we come to town, (Richardson) may not get to Ray because he’s got to get to (Haloti) Ngata and (Terence) Cody first. We’ll see.”
Me: Sept. 27, Browns at Baltimore. Nov. 4, Ravens at Cleveland. Bring it.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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