Ravens officials, many around league respond to Modell’s death


The league is responding with sadness to the death of former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.

While known most for moving his team away from Cleveland, Modell’s impact on the game was far-reaching, as he helped drive the league toward becoming the televised spectacle it is today.

The Ravens have collected many statements, and you can view them all here. But here are a few of them:

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti:

“He was my friend, my mentor. We will miss him so much. How lucky are all of us to have had Art in Baltimore? How fortunate I am to have had him teach me about the NFL. His generosity, his love, his humor, his intelligence, his friendship – we were all blessed by this great man. We will strive to live up to his standard.”

Ravens General Manager & Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome:

“Art was a giant in our industry. He was my boss – but he wouldn’t let me call him that – my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I’ve ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

“Art Modell’s leadership was an important part of the NFL’s success during the league’s explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond. As the longtime chairman of the league’s Broadcast Committee, Art was a visionary who understood the critical role that mass viewing of NFL games on broadcast television could play in growing the league. Art played important roles in many other league matters as a key advisor to Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, and also built championship teams in Cleveland and Baltimore.

“His skills as an owner and league contributor were matched only by his great sense of humor. Any conversation with Art included laughs. He always left you with a smile on your face. We extend our condolences to John, David and the rest of the Modell family.”

Former NBC-TV President Dick Ebersol:

“I believe very strongly that Art Modell is one of the most important figures in the history of the modern NFL. He and Pete Rozelle developed the magic formula that married the potential of television to the game. Those funds from this marriage propelled the game into what it is today. Art was there with Pete, and Art made it happen. Those two, along with Well Mara – who convinced other owners about the power of shared revenue – are the three men who pushed the NFL into what we know today.

“My good fortune is that I met Art when I was a 20-year-old intern for Roone Arledge, and he was creating the first Monday night game. He treated that intern the same as he treated a 60-something TV executive many years later. He always made me feel special. He was open and natural, and there was not a phony bone in his body. His humor could solve the biggest obstacles. When I first became president of NBC Sports, I went to Cleveland to visit with Art. The thoughts he shared with me about television helped me gain success. His efforts in three-plus decades of steering the NFL’s TV committee are monumental. The debt owed by his fellow owners, the current owners and everyone else who has made a living off the NFL, is incalculable. The good news is that Pat [Modell] will now be back with her Art.”

Former Browns, Chiefs and Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer:

“No, no, this is sad news. I loved Art Modell, and I was just thinking of him yesterday. He was a man’s man, someone you wanted to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with. He gave me my first head coaching job, and we had the most fun working together. We didn’t win the biggest prize, but we were awfully close, and we had a ball trying to get there. Art made it fun. His humor was the best, and my wife, Pat, always said what a gentleman he is – classy, and he ran his franchise that way. I have only good memories of Art.”

20 responses to “Ravens officials, many around league respond to Modell’s death

  1. I live in NE Ohio and know a lot of Browns fans. I’m not saying it’s right, but a ton of Browns fans will be partying it up tonight. That guy ripped their hearts out and didn’t even care.

  2. A franchise does not belong solely to the millionaire or billionaire who cuts the checks. A franchise belongs to the community of fans who support the team season after season. Art Modell spit on the thousands of loyal fans who had supported crappy teams in Cleveland year after year. He stole their team out of pure greed and “the modern way,” and I, for one, won’t miss the old gray turd.

  3. He cared. The Cleveland Browns are still the Cleveland Browns. I am a Ravens fan and was a huge Baltimore Colts fan and I was sad when the Browns left to come here. But at least you still have the Browns and their records, name and colors don’t ya!

  4. I was born and raised in Cleveland, and born and raised a Browns fan. As I said in a previous post, though he did accelerate Jim Brown’s retirement and move the Browns he also is the reason the game is where it is today by being instrumental in getting the owners to share revenue, sharing his TV contract and also southern Ohio has to thank him for the Cincinnati Bengals.

    In 1961 he bought the Browns. After the 1962 season he fired Paul Brown. Paul Brown then created the Bengals. No other man could say that he created two NFL teams, but when Modell fired Brown the team and all its talent wasn’t being utilized properly – only Brown couldn’t see it. After being fired he formed a new team, his own team 6 years later and that family still owns the team. Modell in firing him revitilized him.

    Most Clevelanders will speak nothing but bad. Sure there is a lot, but the game we enjoy would not be so great if not for Art Modell’s foresight, sacrifices and more. He hired the first Black General Manager in Ozzie Newsome at a time when many thought that Blacks were incapable of handling that job. He as his wife Pat did good in the communities of both Cleveland and Baltimore. The history of the game could not be told without Art Modell, and this is more than just his moving the team from Cleveland to Baltimore.

    R.I.P. Art, from one Browns fan that knowns better than to hate you.

  5. He should have sold the team back in ’95 when it was obvious he had financial difficulties. All he did was delay the inevitable for 5 years.

  6. The stupid Mayor White and his buddy politicians ripped the hearts out of Cleveland fans and ONLY THEN did they build a stadium when Art left. Where were John Glenn and his A-hole friends when the Cleveland Municipal Stadium was falling down in pieces with no running water or working restrooms?

    Art left the team name, records, colors….something that rat Robert Irsay didn’t do when he ripped the Colts from Baltimore.
    The league wouldn’t give Baltimore a team back for 13 years…yet they gave $50 million to Cleveland to build a new stadium. Al Lerner was the rat….he flew Art to Baltimore in his plane and then made a bundle from the move and forcing PSLs down the Browns’ fans throats.

  7. It’s really sad that to this day Browns fans (with the help of the media) equate themselves to a mistreated minority group. The Baltimore Colts were screwed even worse by their mentally unstable owner and moved out of town in the middle of the night, yet nobody in the media acknowledge’s it! Hell, the former and current commissioner conspired with former skins owner Jack Kent Cook to prevent Baltimore from getting a team back! Yet nobody mentions that! The Titans, Colts, Rams and many other teams were wrongly moved yet the Ravens organazation is the only one that’s vilified? Unlike many of these Cities, the Browns got their history, and colors back! And they still whine! Grow up losers!

  8. I never had the fortune of growing up in a Football town (it was always Friday night HS football for us) and I can only imagine some of the hard feelings that come about when your team gets yanked from you. As a fan of the “Baltimore Ravens” but not a Baltimore native, I can sympathize with both cities who lost part of their identity when they lost their teams. Perhaps I’m not qualified to speak on this but I still think a man’s life ought to be weighed in its entirety.

    R.I.P. Mr. Modell and my condolences to your family.

  9. I’m not saying give the man no respect, but I fully support Brown’s fans’ angst towards the man. He wasn’t a hero to them, he was a villain, who misses a villain?
    I think it is sad he is gone, because he was a big time player in the league circles, but he was also a human being who had loved ones and he never did me wrong.

    Oh yeah, Baltimore Colts fans, you lost your team because you didn’t support them. That didn’t happen in Cleveland.

  10. Modell:Build me a stadium
    Cleveland:No,we’re building on for the Indians
    Modell:Build me a stadium
    Cleveland:No,we’re building one for the Cavs
    Modell:Build me a stadium or I’m leaving
    Cleveland:Fine,leave then….

    Cleveland:How could you leave us like that! We hate you!
    Lerner:Build me a stadium. I’m going to charge for PSLs and generally make alot of money while mismanaging everything about this team for a decade!
    Cleveland:You got it!

  11. You can be mad and hate Art all you want. I understand that, but the fact is that the Browns leaving Cleveland wasn’t solely Art’s fault. There were many involved and responsible for the move. To equate him to the mentally unstable and alcoholic Robert Irsay is insulting. Art deserves to be in the Hall and I hope his death will at least increase his chances of making it in this year. Art did more for the game of football than most people in the history of the game and has not gotten much recognition for it. Hate him all you want but if you remove bias you cannot deny this man’s tremendous impact on the game.

  12. dickjagger,

    I don’t understand where you’re coming from. I don’t have a dog in this fight because I’m in Philly and have no connections to either team or city. The anger directed towards Modell in the comments above does not necessarily indict Baltimore. I would guess that many fans in Cleveland probably sympathize with the anger you and other Colts fans have for Bob Irsay.

    As for your list of other cities that have been screwed, I don’t know that the Rams and pro football were ever really missed in L.A. That explains the fact that the biggest city in this country doesn’t have a pro team. But you’re wrong about the Titans. A friend of mine from Houston has told me that Bud is not thought of fondly there. In fact, if you google “Bud Adams Houston”, you will find a link to an online poll from this past February from the Houston Chronicle asking whether Bud is the most sports figure in that city’s history. Heck, if you google “Walter O’Malley Brooklyn Dodgers” you can find links to stories that still vilify him 50 years later.

    As someone else noted above, it sucks when the fans support a team through years of ineptitude and then the owner moves it elsewhere for more money. Don’t take the anger (right or wrong) at Modell personally. Baltimore and Cleveland aren’t the only cities to be hung out to dry and to harbor grudges against former owners.

  13. The City of Baltimore continuously supported it’s team and Robert Irsay continuously said that he wasn’t talking to other cities and there were no plans to move the team. He was of course drunk, and lying. Modell continuously said that if Cleveland didn’t build a new stadium he would move the team. He was telling the truth. That’s the difference. The Colts were moved by a lying alcoholic and the Browns were moved by a business man trying to get a new stadium. That’s the difference. If Cleveland fans want someone to blame, then blame the city officials who continuously refused to build a new stadium. Don’t tarnish the memory of a great man because you’re too childish and ignorant to realize who’s really responsible. I know you want a scape coat but so did Hitler. Don’t blame innocent people because you’re angry.

  14. Art did not “let” Cleveland keep the Browns name, colors, and history. He fully intended on having the “Baltimore Browns.” He was forced to by the NFL after thousands of Clevelanders called and faxed complaints to the NFL offices. The City of Cleveland also sued Art, the history staying in Cleveland was part of a out of court settlement.

  15. Art didn’t let Cleveland keep anything, the fans and community fought for the everything, tooth and nail. Go look at the photos of the announcement in Baltimore, there was already “Baltimore Browns” memorabilia! Before Art left the stage a Cleveland reporter asked him what the team would be called and he replied they will be called the Baltimore Browns.

    Modell was turned down for the Hall of Fame already and since then nothing has happened to change that.

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