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Ozzie Newsome a Browns leader for decades


Throughout his 13-season, 198-game NFL career with the Cleveland Browns from 1978 to 1990, Ozzie Newsome was a fixture at tight end, a true team leader in every respect, and one of only five players in Browns history to play in parts of three decades.

Nicknamed the "Wizard of Oz," Newsome became the leading tight end receiver in NFL history with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns. He ranked as the fourth leading receiver when he retired.

Newsome, who was born March 16, 1956, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was an All-America at the University of Alabama in 1977 and he became one of two first-round draft selections of the Browns a year later. The first rookie in 25 years to be named the Browns' Offensive Player of the Year in 1978, Ozzie earned all-pro honors in his second season in 1979, and again in 1984.

He was a vital cog in the potent offensive machine that took the Browns to three AFC championship showdowns against the Denver Broncos in a four-year stretch between 1986 and 1989. He also was a Pro Bowl choice following the 1981, 1984 and 1985 seasons.

An outstanding citizen as well as a consummate team player, Newsome won the NFL Players Association Whizzer White award for community service in 1990. Four years earlier in 1986, he won the Ed Block Courage Award for continuing to play in spite of injuries.

A long-time Browns offensive captain, Newsome played in 198 consecutive games. He had 89 receptions both in 1983 and 1984. Ozzie caught at least one pass in 150 consecutive games, the second longest streak in NFL annals at the time, a streak that ended in 1989. The 6-2, 232-pound tight end caught 50 or more passes six seasons, had three or more receptions in 112 games and eight or more catches 13 times. His biggest single game came against the New York Jets in 1984 when he caught 14 passes for 191 yards.

Following his retirement as a player in 1991, Newsome joined the Browns front office as a scout and quickly worked his way up the ranks. He was promoted as the assistant to the head coach/offense/pro personnel and shortly after that he was named Browns director of pro personnel.

Newsome made the move east when the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996 to become the Ravens vice president of player personnel.

Three years later he was Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The success continued for Ozzie.

The Ravens recognized Newsome's knack for leading and promoted him to general manager in 2002. He made history becoming the first African-American to hold such position. He was the architect of the Ravens Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLVII champions teams. Newsome has also had an eye for talent, drafting Gold Jacket Jonathan Ogden and other NFL greats such as Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Ed Reed.

Newsome has received many awards for his leadership in the NFL. In 2002, the current general manager was awarded the Eagle Award, which is the United States Sports Academy's highest international honor. The award recognizes an individual's contribution in promoting international harmony, peace and good will through the effective use of sport. He also won the Reds Bagnell Award in 2012 which is given to an individual who, through his efforts, has helped to foster and promote the integrity of the game of football. A couple years later Newsome received the Leadership Award from the John Mackey Awards that was based on his success in building the team in Baltimore.

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