OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ozzie Newsome just might be the happiest person in New Orleans next weekend.
Newsome, the crafty general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, will be seeking another Super Bowl ring to go with the one he earned after the 2000 season. That would be reason enough to flash his toothy smile in the Big Easy.
But there's so much more for Newsome to look forward to in the city he insists is best suited to host pro football's biggest game.
One day before the Super Bowl, the NFL will announce its newest entrants into the Hall of Fame. Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, the first draft pick Newsome made in Baltimore, is one of the favorites. Former Ravens owner Art Modell, who made Newsome the first African American general manager in NFL history, is also on the list of 15 finalists.
"For the past 15 months, my dream has been having the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl in New Orleans. I think New Orleans is the greatest venue to have a Super Bowl," Newsome said. "But to know Jonathan was up [for the Hall of Fame] and was going to have the opportunity to probably be selected the day before the game, and then for Art, who's now deceased, but also to make it in the top 15, [it's like] that little dream that little kids have growing up."
That's not all. Ray Lewis, Newsome's second selection in that franchise-altering 1996 draft, will play his final game on Super Bowl Sunday against San Francisco. The 37-year-old linebacker, snagged with 26th overall pick in the draft, might be the best player at his position in the history of the game.
"Our ultimate warrior is going to play his last down of football in that game," Newsome said. "I don't think you could write a script like that."