No one can question the loyalty and patience of Baltimore Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. But, until Wednesday's pre-draft press conference, there is one question that has never been asked: why is DeCosta so loyal and patient?
Since 2009, DeCosta has pulled his name out of the Seattle Seahawks' general manager search and has turned down four teams (the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and New York Jets) when they sought permission to speak to him. General manager Ozzie Newsome, 59, said he doesn't have any timetable on when he will retire, and DeCosta doesn't appear in a rush to become the final decision-maker for a team.
"Every day I come in and work with my friends, and I think it’s a relationship business," DeCosta said. "In the end, personal ambitions aside, all you have is really your reputation and your friends and your enjoyment in life."
The Ravens are extremely lucky to have a seamless transition in place. Others under Newsome (Phil Savage, James Harris and George Kokinis) have gone elsewhere to become general managers and have failed to match the level of success they had in Baltimore.
Many will say DeCosta is closer to Newsome than his predecessors ever were. In DeCosta's first year as a scouting assistant, he remembers sitting alone in the stands at the NFL combine when he heard Newsome yelling to him. DeCosta was invited back to "the perch," the press box where only the likes of Dick Vermeil, Dennis Green and Mike Holmgren would sit. It became a tradition for Newsome and DeCosta to hang out there together while the rest of the scouts work in the stands.
DeCosta, who will turn 44 on Friday, is now just as ingrained in the Ravens' draft process as Newsome. They see players the same way and essentially talk the same language when evaluating prospects.
The Ravens have certainly rewarded DeCosta over the years with a new title (he was promoted to assistant GM in May 2012) and a strong financial commitment. DeCosta's strength has been organization and thoroughness, which are evident on draft day. Since taking control of running the draft in 2005 (Newsome has the final say on all picks), the Ravens have drafted six Pro Bowl players (defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, fullback Le'Ron McClain, guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs, running back Ray Rice and linebacker C.J. Mosley) and one Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (quarterback Joe Flacco).
"I sit with these guys every day and give everybody a hard time, get a chance to play jokes on everybody every day, and it’s just fun," DeCosta said. "I enjoy work. I enjoy coming in here. We have a great owner, awesome stadium and best fan base in the country, so what more do you want?”