The passing of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell has generated plenty of compelling observations and recollections regarding one of pro football’s dominant figures of the last 50 years.
One of the most fascinating accounts comes from Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne.
Byrne, who spent more than 20 years working for Modell in Cleveland and in Baltimore, writes about the farewells said by several Ravens officials to their former boss.
Current Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti reluctantly shared his final words to Modell, who served as Bisciotti’s mentor for four years as Bisciotti ascended from minority to majority owner.
“Don’t go – I don’t know if I can do this without you,” Bisciotti told Modell.
Byrne also shared one of the funnier moments of Modell’s career. Speaking to the media after a big loss, former Browns coach Sam Rutigliano said, “There are 800 million Chinese who didn’t even know we played today. We’ll get over this.”
When Modell saw Rutigliano’s quote, the owner called Byrne with the following observaion: “You tell your head coach that there may be 800 million Chinese who don’t care that we lost yesterday, but there is one Jew in Cleveland who cares a lot.”
Football fans throughout the country should care that Art is gone, and they should always remember that he had an important role in the growth the sport has enjoyed over the past 50 years.