He’s dead. Finally.
From the Plain Dealer.
Arthur B. Modell, who went from a high school dropout to majority owner of the Cleveland Browns and National Football League kingpin, and who was forever vilified in Cleveland after moving the storied franchise to Baltimore in 1996, died early today Baltimore, according to the Associated Press. He was 87.
The 87-year-old Modell owned the Browns from 1961 to 1995, a period that saw them win their last NFL Championship in 1964. But Modell is probably best remembered by Browns fans for his controversial decision to move the team to Baltimore in 1996 and rename them the Ravens. The period remains one of the darkest chapters in the city’s sports history.
Cleveland was without pro football for three seasons until the Browns returned as an expansion franchise in 1999 under the ownership of Alfred Lerner.
Art Modell deserved every bit of venom he got.
I’ve been a loyal fan since 1964, when I watched Jim Brown, Lou Groza, and Frank Ryan take our team to the last NFL championship they had.
I was born in and raised around Cleveland. We live and die with our team every year. I’ve lived through the Dawg Pound, The Kardiac Kids, Bernie Kosar, The Fumble, The Drive, and the Modell and NFL betrayal.
I remember the Gateway Project that built Jacobs Field for the Indians and Gund Arena for the Cavaliers. Modell was offered a deal for a new stadium, but turned it down. When he attempted renovation at the old Cleveland Municipal stadium, he found that it was in such a state of disrepair, he would need a new stadium anyway. That’s when the blackmail started.
He wanted a new stadium and the taxpayers to foot the bill. We refused to be fleeced. The incompetent asswipe got a good percentage of the concessions and the parking fees, along with a rate of only $250,000 a year for the rent. What did he do with the proceeds? He built luxury boxes for his pals. He squandered his fortune, went broke, and blamed the fans; the same loyal fans who stuck with the team through thick and thin, bought the tickets, and packed the stadium regardless of how cold it was. Modell was a pathetic loser. If he lost as many millions of dollars as he claimed, he should have gotten out of the business of football. He ran the team’s finances into the ground, and Tagliabue bailed him out. He screwed us with a behind- the- back deal with Baltimore, but he wasn’t able to sneak out in the middle of the night like Irsay did with the Colts.
We hung tough to save the Browns name, legacy, and colors, until they returned in 1999.
Fuck Modell. If there’s a purgatory, he’ll spend a lot of time there.