The man "most responsible for establishing the Ravens' winning culture" is GM OZZIE NEWSOME, who has "overseen the team since it ceased being the Cleveland Browns in 1996," according to Tim Graham of the BUFFALO NEWS. Ravens coach JOHN HARBAUGH on Tuesday said, "What makes Ozzie Newsome such a great general manager? Can I name the ways? How long would it take? It would be a long list." Newsome said, "I think it’s having the right relationship with the coach, the owner and the president. I try to make myself available. I try to be honest with any and everything that I try to tell them." NFL player agent JOE LINTA, who represents Ravens QB JOE FLACCO and C MATT BIRK, said, "The times that I have dealt with him, you never walk away not knowing where he’s coming from." Newsome "apparently is a master at all forms of player acquisition." Former Jets GM MIKE TANNENBAUM said, "He’s tough in trade negotiations. He is hard. He drives a tough bargain, a fair bargain. You’ve got to be prepared. We’ve proposed some things in the past, and he’s a formidable adversary when it comes to doing deals" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/1).
FROM THE GROUND UP: SI.com's Don Banks wrote a win on Sunday would give Newsome two titles in the game's "salary-cap era, amid the restrictions of a free-agency system that demands the rebuilding of a roster every four years or so." This year's "rather unexpected Ravens Super Bowl run is the exclamation point on the most successful five-year period in the relocated franchise's relatively brief history." Former Colts, Panthers and Bills GM BILL POLIAN said, "What's impressive is that he's rebuilt that team in effect two or three times. ... For a general manager to keep a team in contention for 12 years, in this day and age in the salary cap era, it's the most difficult thing to do in sports." Banks wrote, "Talk to anyone who has watched Newsome and his work up close, and they'll repeat a variation of the same theme: He made the rare transition from great player to great team executive and personnel evaluator by prioritizing listening and learning before talking, and being able to assimilate vast amounts of information and condense it down to its most salient points" (SI.com, 1/31). SPORTING NEWS' Clifton Brown wrote Newsome is "superb at his craft, the architect of one of the NFL's most consistent franchises." He would "rather give credit than take it." Based on Newsome's history, the Ravens "should continue winning." The Ravens 12 years ago "won their first Super Bowl with a team that Newsome built." Brown: "Clearly, he has not lost his touch" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/31).
STRONG & SILENT: In San Jose, Tim Kawakami wrote 49ers GM TRENT BAALKE "has -- no shock -- turned down all interview requests and dropped totally off-radar this week." Baalke is defined by the "talent he has added to the 49ers roster and by the lengths he'll go to avoid talking about how he's doing it." 49ers coach JIM HARBAUGH said, "He is in the get-the-job-done category, not the take-credit-for-getting-the-job-done category." Kawakami wrote Baalke is "100 percent scout, absorbed in the details of grinding through tape and research, and not at all in any of the public conversation." 49ers CEO JED YORK on Thursday jokingly said, "Has he ever talked?" Kawakami wrote there there are some "rare bits of knowledge" about Baalke. He "loves the Sharks and is close friends" with GM DOUG WILSON. He also is "a fitness freak" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 1/31). SI.com's Jim Trotter wrote Baalke "hates the spotlight as much as he does a selfish player." That attitude causes him to "get lost in Harbaugh's considerable shadow at times, but he's OK with it." For him the bottom line "is the team, and he works to ensure that Harbaugh and his talented staff have the necessary groceries to cook up a good meal" (SI.com, 1/31).