As the National Football League brings us another season full of its pageantry, big hits and obsessive fans, attention has now turned to the death of an NFL legend, Art Modell. Modell was the owner of the Cleveland Browns and later the Baltimore Ravens. He died of natural causes at the age of 87 on Thursday. The League is asking all teams to have a moment of silence for Modell in their season-opening games.
Modell and a group of friends purchased the Browns in 1961 for $4 million. The Browns then won the NFL Championship three years later in 1964, the next to last championship game before the Super Bowl.
Art was also instrumental in the formation of the NFL that we see today. He broke the impasse at the merger meetings between the NFL and the American Football League by volunteering to move the Browns to the American Football Conference. Modell’s most important contribution to the NFL was his negotiating power with ABC in 1970 that led to the creation of “Monday Night Football.”
But Modell is probably the most infamous for “Lebron James-ing” Cleveland when The King was just twelve years old. In 1996, Modell took his talents (and the franchise) to Baltimore and then changed the team’s name to the Ravens, leaving the history and the name in Cleveland for another team to use later on. The Browns, who have been in Cleveland since the 1940s, and their fans, have never really recovered from the move to Baltimore and have continued to vilify Modell, even though the Browns returned to The Forest City in 1999.
Towards the end of Modell’s career, he had to sell the Ravens in 2004 after the move from Cleveland left him with very little cash. He had a one percent share in the team since selling the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti.
After his run in football has finished, Modell is still not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Modell was a finalist for The Hall in 2001 and a semifinalist in seven different classes, the most recent in 2011. It is said that Modell is not in the Hall of
Fame because of what he did to Cleveland. I think Art should get a little respect for making the NFL the cash machine it is today and be enshrined in the The Hall.