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Former Browns/Ravens Owner Art Modell Dies at Age 87

Arthur B. Modell (June 23, 1925 – September 6, 2012)

Almost as soon as I posted the news that Modell was reported in grave condition it was being announced that he had passed on.

Art Modell has died. He was 87.

The team said Modell died of natural causes early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he had been admitted Wednesday.

Modell was among the most important figures in the NFL as owner of the Cleveland Browns, which became the Ravens after he took the team to Baltimore in 1996 in a move that tarnished his reputation as one of the league’s most innovative and influential owners.

The Ravens won their lone Super Bowl in January 2001, less than a year after Modell sold a minority interest of the team to Steve Bisciotti. In April 2004. Bisciotti completed purchase of the franchise but left Modell a 1 percent share.

At one time one of Cleveland’s biggest civic leaders, Modell became a pariah in Ohio after he moved the team.

”I have a great legacy, tarnished somewhat by the move,” he said in 1999. ”The politicians and the bureaucrats saw fit to cover their own rear ends by blaming it on me.”

The move was also believed to be the main reason why Modell never made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of 15 finalists in 2001 and a semifinalist seven times between 2004 and 2011.

However, Modell was beloved in Baltimore, and hoped one day the people of Cleveland would remember him for what he accomplished in the city. Long after the move, Modell pointed out that Cleveland ultimately got the new stadium he coveted, and that the expansion version of the Browns could draw on the history he helped create.

Over the next few days I’ll think about and ultimately write about Modell’s legacy in Baltimore and around the league.

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8 Responses to “Former Browns/Ravens Owner Art Modell Dies at Age 87”

  1. Ben Dover says:

    RIP Art Modell, your contribution to the NFL both in its merger with the AFL and the formation of the Super Bowl XXXV Champions, Baltimore Ravens; which gives the Steelers the chance to beat the Clowns four times a year, will never be truly appreciated.

    You were one of the titans of the league.

  2. Unfortunately for you Ben the Ravens swept the Steelers last season.

    But thanks for the insightful comment after a man’s death.

  3. Ben Dover says:

    Yes the Ravens did sweep the Steelers last season but then failed in the AFC Championship Game.

    You might remember, In 2009 the Steelers swept the Ravens during the regular season, then beat them for a third time in the AFC Championship Game. They weren’t done though, the Steelers went on to beat the Cardnials 27-23 and win Super Bowl XLIII.

    You see, unlike the Ravens, the Steelers didn’t think they had won it all when they swept the Ravens during the regular season in 2009. It was just another regular season sweep on the road to their sixth Super Bowl.

    The regular season is meaningless to the Steelers, but if that’s all you’ve got, then good for you.

  4. ZZZZ. Your history lesson bores me. I figured you’d want to focus on the past though to distract yourself from the present.

    No doubt still trying to understand how a backup quarterback knocked out your team in the Wildcard round. Maybe the Steelers coaching staff thought they’d just blitz every down and that would be the formula for success?

    And you’re right, the regular season is meaningless. Certainly you don’t have to win enough games there to get to the playoffs. Good luck in Denver.

  5. Ben Dover says:

    The Steelers got into the playoffs, and their season ended the same way the Ravens season ended –the same way Ravens seasons have ended for the past 11 seasons. Infact two of those seasons have ended with the Steelers defeating the Ravens in the playoffs, something the Ravens have never accomplished.

    Face it, Baltimore fans and football players define success as beating the Steelers, Steelers fans and football players define success as winning Super Bowls. You guys are nothing more than the annoying little cousin of the NFL’s greatest franchise.

  6. Nope. I just define it as successful when a Steeler troll comes on a Baltimore site to simply stir things up.

    The Ravens simply had a better season than the Steelers did last season and they swept them to boot and won the Division. And by your own definition you thought the Steelers season sucked too so you only prove my point.

    Since the Steelers were established in 1933 and the Ravens in 1996, I think our one championship looks pretty good at this point. Four straight playoff appearances but unable get to the big dance twice.

    I have great respect for the Steelers players and organization but its’ fans are another issue. Annoying, sweaty, arrogant, and consistently smug they are a plague on the league. Any bar on any given Sunday you’ll find a pack of them as they launch into a “Here We Go Steelers” chant for four hours.

    Did you even think why you had to take the time to comment on a post that is about a man’s death? Probably not, just wanted to get another jab in on Cleveland or Baltimore or both.

    Here we go indeed.

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