The Pittsburgh Steelers are rightfully recognized for their ability to produce successful results on the field through continuity off the field. The fact that they have had only three head coaches since 1969, all of whom have won championships to add to the franchise’s legacy, is remarkable.
In the current iteration, Mike Tomlin has been head coach since 2007, and Kevin Colbert has effectively been the team’s general manager since 2000, even though the formal title of general manager has only in recent years been bestowed upon him. Colbert’s ability to work well with Tomlin, and with Bill Cowher before him, has helped produce the talented rosters we have seen on the field.
But if you’re talking about continuity, it’s hard to look past the Baltimore Ravens and Ozzie Newsome, who has literally been the only general manager in the team’s history. A Hall of Fame tight end as a player, he would rightfully be regarded as a Hall of Fame contributor separately as well. He just sent his second draft pick to the Hall of Fame in Ray Lewis, with Jonathan Ogden preceding him.
Newsome immediately joined the Cleveland Browns’ front office after his playing career ended, and he followed them to Baltimore when they moved. He has been in the Ravens’ front office from their first season in 1996 through the current regime.
And he will remain that way, though a transition is coming. It was announced yesterday that the 2018 season will be his final year in his role as general manager, after which he will transition into more of an advisory scouting position within the front office, giving way to Eric DeCosta, who has been sought after by other teams for years.
This succession plan was made four years ago when Newsome signed his most recent contract, which runs through five seasons, this being the fifth. Even the NFL recognizes the validity of this succession plan, and it is because of that that the Ravens are not obligated to interview other candidates for the post in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule.
Newsome said in a statement that DeCosta will be taking over as general manager “and assume all duties that come with that, including heading our personnel department and directing free agency and the draft”.
He went on to say that he will “remain with the Ravens in a significant position in personnel and help us win more Super Bowls. We have planned this succession over the last five years”.
While the Ravens have struggled on the field in recent years, it is hard to deny their success during their relatively brief tenure as a franchise. The organization has the eighth-best winning percentage since the merger even in spite of its recent skid, posting an overall 190-161-1 record, or a winning percentage of .541. They also have the best postseason winning percentage with a 15-8 record in the Super Bowl era. Newsome’s rosters have been a critical part of that success.