A week after the passing of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, a new report disputes Modell’s claim that he moved the team from Cleveland to Baltimore because he couldn’t get a new stadium in Ohio.
Mark Naymik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls the late Modell a liar in a report based on the accounts of two former city officials. One, a former Cleveland city council president whose “memory for detail is hazy,” says that the powers-that-be wanted to build a football stadium at the Gateway sports complex, but that Modell rejected the overture “years before leaving.” Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan said that an informal offer was made.
Read the entire article, and perhaps you’ll agree with our (or at least my) assessment that something stinks about the timing of the report — and about Naymik’s clumsy explanation for its delayed publication. Naymik writes that “Modell already was viewed by many as the worst villain Cleveland ever saw,” and that “knowing Modell was offered a stadium deal and still left would have only further damaged our psyche at the very time the city’s football fans needed to move on.”
I’d likely disagree with that reasoning, if I could understand it.
If there was any real merit to this story, it would have been reported before Modell died. Why sit on it for 17 years, when it would have so completely eviscerated Modell’s pretext for leaving?
It’s almost as if the story specifically was timed to pour water on the possibility of Cleveland letting bygones be bygones with a man who is now gone for good. If anyone in Cleveland utters at any point in the coming days, weeks, or months that maybe it’s time to forgive Modell, Naymik’s article will provide ample fodder for a conclusive rebuttal based on the brand-new notion that Modell wasn’t being truthful when he said he had never been offered a brand-new stadium.
In all fairness, Modell should have gotten a chance to respond to that accusation while he was still alive.