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Back to his roots

Big Ten Conference chief of staff Adam Neuman returns to his flock

The up-and-coming sports administrator starts a new job as top official with the Baltimore Ravens

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Adam Neuman

For Adam Neuman, a rising star in professional sports management, the chance to work for the Baltimore Ravens, the NFL team he joined on Friday as chief of staff and special adviser to the president, represents a personally fulfilling return not only to his beloved native city but to a robust Jewish community that has long kept him centered — even from afar.

“Being a Baltimorean has always been in the fabric of who I am, and I’ve learned a lot from the people who have raised me,” he said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Tuesday afternoon. “There’s a certain grittiness, a certain toughness, a certain hospitality that exists in Baltimore.”

“Returning,” he said, “is really powerful.”

For the past several years, Neuman, 33, has lived in New York City, logging hours at a white-shoe law firm before being snatched up by the Big Ten Conference, where he served as chief of staff for strategy and operations as well as deputy general counsel. In his time at the storied college sports conference, Neuman worked side by side with its influential commissioner, Kevin Warren, who won plaudits for brokering a multibillion-dollar TV deal that set a record for college athletics.

Thanks in large part to his assistance in such negotiations, Neuman was recently included in The Athletic’s inaugural “College Sports 40 Under 40” list — which applauded the up-and-comer as “a major player behind the scenes in one of the most powerful conferences in college sports.”

When Warren was named president and CEO of the Chicago Bears and left the Big Ten this past April, Neuman, who had previously served as a legal intern for the Minnesota Vikings, soon followed his former boss to the NFL — albeit while landing at a different team.

Now that he is migrating to his home state, Neuman expressed an urge “to give back” to the community in which more than a dozen of his family members still reside. “That’s going to be a big priority for me,” he told JI, crediting his grandfather, Earle Freedman, as a source of inspiration. Freedman, a nationally recognized retired bridge engineer who holds the unique title of Maryland’s longest-serving government employee, “just stuck it out and grinded and helped build some of the most famous bridges in the state,” Neuman said admiringly.

Neuman, for his part, sees his own values reflected in the team that is bringing him home after a 15-year hiatus, which began with a two-year stint studying Talmud in Israel. “The Ravens are one of these real community teams,” he explained. “I think everybody knows how important the Ravens are to the community and how important they are to the welfare of the state. To be a part of a leadership group with the Ravens, really, in a lot of ways, is a dream come true.”

As a lifelong Ravens fan, Neuman, an avid collector of Baltimore sports memorabilia, brings a personal connection to his new role. “It’s not always the exclusive reason to want to work for a team,” he acknowledged. “But it’s a real blessing to get to work for the team you rooted for. No one asked me to put a signed Ray Lewis-Ed Reed jersey in my Big Ten office in New York. But I did.”

“I’m really looking forward to helping the organization win a Super Bowl in any way that I can,” he averred.

Neuman said he is working remotely for the next few weeks and will relocate to Baltimore by the end of the month. “It’s definitely bigger and larger,” he said of the city, which he has continued to visit multiple times during his time away.

As he prepares to move back, Neuman, an Orthodox Jew, said he is looking forward to working in close proximity to the Jewish community where he grew up, “which is only about a 15-minute drive from” the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills, a suburb of Baltimore. “It’s incredible,” he said of the commute, “to be near kosher food and prayer.”

He is confident that the team’s leadership will be “sensitive to” his own religious requirements, including Shabbat observance. “They’re incredibly inclusive people,” he said. “They obviously know that I’m a practicing Orthodox Jew, and that’s really important to me. First and foremost, God is present in my life, and that’s a non-negotiable.”

“The reality is, if I can make it in college sports, where our primary revenue generator is all on Saturday,” he said, “I know that making that shift to the games that are more traditionally played on Sunday will definitely be a little bit of an easier toll on my family.”

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