Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns for 35 years and then controversially moved them to Baltimore where they became the Ravens, has died at the age of 87.
His son, former Ravens President David Modell, confirmed in a statement released by the Ravens that his dad had died.
“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at four this morning,” David Modell said. “My brother, John Modell, and I were with him when he finally rejoined the absolute love of his life, my mother Pat Modell, who passed away last October.”
Modell bought the Browns for $4 million in 1961 and became a hands-on owner immediately. He stunned many when he fired the Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown in 1963, but became a popular man in Cleveland when the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964. Three decades later he would become perhaps the most hated man in Cleveland when he uprooted the team and left for Baltimore, where his team became the Ravens in 1996 as he left behind the Browns franchise name.
The Ravens were a success on the field, winning the Super Bowl four years after arriving in Baltimore, but financial problems caused Modell to sell a minority share of the team to Steve Bisciotti in 1999, then give up control of the team to Bisciotti in 2004.