Ozzie Newsome was the most prolific tight end of his time, starring with the Browns from 1978-1990. At the time of his retirement, his 662 receptions ranked fourth all-time in the NFL. Ozzie joined us for a chat at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Ozzie_Newsome: Folks, send me your questions! I'm here and ready for them!
MODERATOR: Welcome Ozzie, thanks for joining us. How are you doing today?
Ozzie_Newsome: I'm doing very good, thanks.
kpaluso: What are you doing now that you are retired from football?
Ozzie_Newsome: I am the vice president of player personnel for the Baltimore Ravens. My responsibilities are running the draft, dealing with free agency and administrating the contracts for the players. I enjoy it a lot and there's always something new and exciting to get involved in.
bronzebust: You redefined how tight ends played the game. How has the position changed since your playing days? What's the next evolution you foresee in the position?
Ozzie_Newsome: As for the tight end, there are two different types based on the position. There is the pass catcher from the West Coast offense and the throwback type. People want that big guy who can impact the passing game while also being a solid run blocker.
jerfsmit: Hey Ozzie! Having set numerous records as a tight end, do you think the role of the tight end has diminished lately, and if so why?
Ozzie_Newsome: No, I think if you look at the numbers now, they are up in number of receptions. People are playing a lot of two-deep coverage to take away from the wide receivers. So, I think the tight ends have more room to catch the ball.
Pete: Who was the best coach you ever played for?
Ozzie_Newsome: Bear Bryant. His ability to keep everybody focused and make everyone play as a team was his best quality. He knew when we needed to be kicked on the butt and he knew when we needed a pat on the back.
jerfsmit: What was your most memorable game with the Browns?
Ozzie_Newsome: It was the 1986 playoff win versus the Jets in the first round. We were down 10 in the fourth and we came back to win in the second overtime, which we ended up winning with a field goal.
bronzebust: "That's why I've never been a guy that celebrates a touchdown or anything like that, because I think the next one is more important than the one I've already done."-- that's a great quote. What do you think of all the on-field celebrations we see today?
Ozzie_Newsome: I think when it's spontaneous, it's fine. When it's thought about beforehand and demeaning to another player, I disagree with it.
jacktripper: Are you particularly proud of any one of your records?
Ozzie_Newsome: I guess it would be the 150 straight games with a catch. It talks about consistency and longevity, and that's why it sticks out.
jerfsmit: The teams of '85-'88 were obviously a special group. Can you describe your relationship with the team and what it was like to play with those guys?
Ozzie_Newsome: I think it started in '85 when we got a taste of playing in the playoffs. Once that happens, you like being a part of the playoffs. When you get that close to the Super Bowl, it's easier to work in the off-season, and when you win, the closer the team gets.
bronzebust: Any regrets about staying in Cleveland instead of going someplace where you might have played in/won a Super Bowl?
Ozzie_Newsome: No. In the latter part of the '80s, we played in three championship games. I was glad to play in Cleveland with the Browns.
Pete: Do you think the Ravens can get to the Super Bowl this year?
Ozzie_Newsome: I think the first step is getting into the playoffs. Once you get in that three-game tournament, it's uncharted territory and anything can happen.
bronzebust: You now have one of today's best tight ends in Shannon Sharpe. Were you active in bringing him to Baltimore? What made you want him on the Ravens?
Ozzie_Newsome: Yes, I was involved in the recruiting process. We had no production last year from that position, and I felt like we needed to go out and get one. When we went out to get him, we knew we wanted him to be a focal part of the offense.
timgut: Do you have mixed emotions when you play the Browns now? Do you still root for them on other days?
Ozzie_Newsome: I still root for them. The emotions subsided since this is the fourth time we are playing them. As time moves on, it's becoming an easier thing to deal with.
jacktripper: What was the hardest part about retiring as a player?
Ozzie_Newsome: I think it's missing the relationship with the players. With a group of guys, you establish some bonds. With no arena do you get that, and that's what makes it so special.
jerfsmit: I know you enjoy your job in the Ravens' front office but have you thought about coaching in the future?
Ozzie_Newsome: No, I think if I ever go back into coaching, it would be on the junior high level. I would like to go back and be more of a teacher and an instructor if I went back. They just play for the love of the game.
Pete: Would you rate Tony Gonzalez as the best tight end in the league today? What about some of the others?
Ozzie_Newsome: Yeah, I think he's playing at a very high level. He's getting a lot of opportunities and he's delivering. Others would be Dilger with the Colts, Sharpe with us, Wycheck with Tennessee and Dudley with the Raiders.
bronzebust: Do you have any sons that play football? Might we see them in the NFL someday?
Ozzie_Newsome: I only have an 8-year-old son and he's not allowed to play yet. He plays soccer and basketball. Once he turns 14 or 15, he can play football. I think the body has developed enough to deal with the pounding he'll go through.
MODERATOR: Thanks so much for joining us today Ozzie. Best of luck in the future…any final comments?
Ozzie_Newsome: I enjoyed this and I appreciate everyone who got online to chat with me!
MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us everyone…if we didn't get to your questions, be sure to join us next week when we chat with ex-Pittsburgh LB Jack Ham.