Art Modell told Robert Kraft hiring Bill Belichick was a huge mistake

AP

NFL history would look a whole lot different if Patriots owner Robert Kraft had listened to former Browns owner Art Modell.

Kraft tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com that Modell, who had hired Belichick in 1991 and fired him after the 1995 season, believed that Belichick would be a disaster in New England and told Kraft not to hire him.

“He said if I did it, I’d be making the biggest mistake of my life,” Kraft said.

In fairness to the late Modell, he remembered their conversation a little differently: In 2007, Modell said that what he had warned Kraft was simply that Belichick could be abrasive personally, not that he couldn’t coach.

“You’re not getting Prince Charming,” Modell recalled telling Kraft when asked about it in 2007, “but give him some leeway and he’ll deliver for you.”

What is beyond dispute is that Modell tired of Belichick and fired him after a 5-11 season in 1995, even though Belichick won a playoff game in 1994 — still the last playoff game the Browns won.

104 responses to “Art Modell told Robert Kraft hiring Bill Belichick was a huge mistake

  1. “You’re not getting Prince Charming,” Modell recalled telling Kraft when asked about it in 2007, “but give him some leeway and he’ll deliver for you. He also cheats like a madman!”

  2. Because Modell caught Belichick cheating when he offered $10,000.00 to any who could tell him what Ernie Adams did in the organization. Belichick stopped and couldn’t win without cheating.

  3. He also cheats like a madman!”

    _________________________________________

    A seahawks fan wants to talk about cheating?

    What about Pete the cheat?

  4. So, what’s worse for Browns fans: Modell “moving” the team to Baltimore, or that he “tired” of, and subsequently fired, Belichick a little too soon?

  5. Modell is the biggest goofball in sports history… he’s the only person who could move a team to Baltimore, receive all the financial perks possible, and still be forced to sell the team by the NFL because it was going bankrupt.

  6. Do you want to win or do you want someone to hold hands and share afternoon tea with?

  7. Which further proves Modell was a terrible owner. The same owner that fired Paul Brown. The same owner that couldn’t manage his money and moved his team in a desperation act, only to delay the inevitable, in which he had to finally sell the team.

    The man fired two of the greatest coaches in the NFL, but it was always them with the issues, not him. Worst owner ever.

  8. So was moving the Browns idiot….Cleveland 95 painted a great picture of how an owner can hold a city hostage over a team….

    Thanks for resigning as H.C. Of the N.Y.Jets Bill we love you in Foxborough

  9. Wow, so the dead man cannot defend himself. Maybe there’s something to Kraft and his integrity.

  10. I don’t like Modell at all, but looking at everything from a business stand point, the city of Cleveland wasn’t innocent in the Browns leaving.

  11. “You’re not getting Prince Charming,” Modell recalled telling Kraft when asked about it in 2007, “but give him some leeway and he’ll deliver for you. He also cheats like a madman!”

    ______________________________________

    But he’s a winner which is all that counts. So you keep crying and losing and enjoy!!!!!

  12. The actual quote we see from Modell sounds completely accurate –

    ““You’re not getting Prince Charming,” Modell recalled telling Kraft when asked about it in 2007, “but give him some leeway and he’ll deliver for you.””

    The “biggest mistake of your life blah blah blah” quote sounds like it’s Robert Kraft’s memory of a conversation that happened more than 20 years ago.

  13. 5-11 in ’95 was primarily because the team and city found out they were getting ready to bail and head to Baltimore. Not because Belichick didn’t coach well. he was in the process of building a winner in Cleveland, something special, before the rug got pulled out from under his feet. I’d love to say it was different, but that’s what happened

  14. Two things here:

    1. Art Modell makes Mike Brown seem like an okay guy.

    2. Winning a playoff game with Cleveland is the most impressive thing Belichick will ever do as a NFL coach… Until he wins a SB without Brady that is.

  15. Browns gonna brown.

    In all honesty though it is crazy to think that the Browns could have kept Bill and eventually have gotten Brady because of that and we would all be talking about the Browns dynasty.

    What an alternate dimension that must be.

  16. “NFL history would look a whole lot different if Patriots owner Robert Kraft had listened to former Browns owner Art Modell.”
    _________________________________

    Just watch “1995 Browns: A Football Life”. NFL history would look a whole lot different if Art Modell had stayed in Cleveland and retained the head coaching services of Bill Belichick.

    The Browns were on the rise.

  17. After a 1994 playoff year for Belichick and the Browns, Belichick started 1995 at 3-1 when Modell announced he was taking the team to Baltimore. The team then finished 5-11 thatnks to Artie.

  18. Wouldn’t you say that Seahawks fans are a little bitter? They’re starting to sound like all the Ravens fans who all have man crushes on Joe Flacco.

    Can you all get over these cheating accusations and reconcile with the fact that the Patriots are the best organization in pro football? Because the numbers don’t lie.

    Say. you guys all watching the big game Sunday? We are because our team is actually playing in it…….again.

  19. So just to recap:

    Art Modell fired Paul Brown. He fired Marty Schottenheimer. Then he fired Bill Belichick.

    I would probably not take too much of his advice with respect to whom to hire as your next head coach.

  20. That 5-11 team wouldn’t have been 5-11 if Modell hadn’t announce the move when the team was at or around .500. Why would he call and say anything to Kraft other than to try to influence not to hire Belichick? Belichick worked with Kraft the year (1996) after Modell fired him. Kraft knew what he was getting. Even as Belichick left the Patriots with Parcells after 1996, he told Kraft to keep Troy Brown. Kraft’s mistake after Parcells left was not promoting Belichick as HC.

  21. Poor Seattle fans. If it weren’t for those meddling Patriots the Seahawks dynasty could possibly have had 3 Lombardis by now.

    Too bad the Pats put a halt to that real quick. There is only room for one dynasty in the NFL 😀

  22. jchipwood says:
    Jan 30, 2017 1:59 PM
    Because Modell caught Belichick cheating when he offered $10,000.00 to any who could tell him what Ernie Adams did in the organization. Belichick stopped and couldn’t win without cheating.
    ————-
    It’s great when people make stuff up out of thin air and proclaim it as the truth, people sure are smart these days…hooray for education!

  23. pastabelly says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:21 PM
    Kraft’s mistake after Parcells left was not promoting Belichick as HC.
    **************************
    No, his mistake was letting Bobby Greier handle personnel. The team played its ass off for Pete Carroll (except Terry Glenn).

  24. What’s with Paul Brown and Art Modell? One didn’t want Walsh to get a head coaching job the other one didn’t want Belichick to get a head coaching job.

  25. Well – that’s classy – having a conversation about someone who ain’t here to defend himself. Modell should be in the hall of fame. He left Cleveland after giving them every chance to help build a stadium. The Browns were the only business he owned – and as he neared the end of his life – he knew he had to move(or get a new stadium) to improve it’s worth for his heirs. Al Davis moved 3 times and sued the NFL and is in the HOF. Modell created Monday Night Football and numerous other innovations yet some schmuck in Cleveland can’t get over him moving when he would have done the exact same thing.

  26. Art Modell starred in “Take The Money And Run”. Belichick had turned the Browns franchise around and Modell put a knife in it and the Dawg Pound. He ran to a city that was jilted by the Colts and the Irsay family.

    Ozzie Newsome, Nick Saban, Jim Schwartz, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Pioli, Thomas Dimitroff and several other successful coaches and front office staff were part of Belichick’s staff in Cleveland. To a man they say the Brown’s would have won a super bowl in Cleveland if they didn’t relocate and credit Belichick with putting together the framework that won one for the Ravens.

  27. Ironically, Belechick posted a losing season in 2000 with the Patriots and lost his first two games in 2001.

    What was the difference between 2000 and week 3 of the 2001 season? Belechick had Drew Bledsoe under center, not Tom Brady.

    Brady made Belechick, not the other way around.

  28. From the same genius that fired Paul Brown….what a surprise.

    My guess is Kraft is telling the truth here. What is true is that Belichick is an anomaly; a head coach who failed in his first attempt at head coaching, and made the changes necessary to be successful in his second attempt. Not many coaches get that chance, and of those that do, few take advantage of it. Outside of Pete Carroll and Belichick, it’s a short list.

  29. Modell was a joke of an owner and it took time for belichick to become one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. The krafts so some of the success he had in Cleveland and some of the failures, listened to him explain the reason for each decided he was his guy.

    The krafts have had 3 coaches since they owned the pats since 1994, Parcells, Carroll and Belichick. In that entire 23 years the pats have had a total of 2 losing seasons and will have been to 8 SB’s, one of which happened when brady was still in high school. Its been the greatest run of success in the history of the nfl, and belichick has done more than his part in that.

  30. Even if Modell’s version of the story is true, it still leaves him looking like a blithering idiot.

    “You going to hire that guy? I had him, and he’s a mean, grouchy old fart. But he can coach. So why did I fire him? Because he’s a mean, grouchy old fart. I want a nice guy, even if he can’t coach. That’s why I hired the 1,000-year-old Ted Marchibroda once we got to Baltimore. You know, cuz he coached the NFL team in Baltimore back in the 40s. Smart guy, aren’t I?”

    Modell always was an idiot. This story proves it, no matter which side you think is the truth.

  31. davew128 says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:41 PM

    pastabelly says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:21 PM

    Kraft’s mistake after Parcells left was not promoting Belichick as HC.

    **************************
    No, his mistake was letting Bobby Greier handle personnel. The team played its ass off for Pete Carroll (except Terry Glenn).

    **************************

    I seem to remember thinking that the team was poorly coached under Pete Carroll. Regressed further two seasons after their SB loss to Green Bay. After the iron fist of the Tuna, Pete was Pete and their was very little discipline. Just sloppy. And yes Greier was blamed, but many of those players who won in 2001 were selected by Bobby Greier. I am just going by memory (which has been affected by all this winning) so I could be way off.

  32. You can’t blame Art for that. Belichick’s aptitude for cheating hadn’t reached full bloom yet.

  33. Just watch “1995 Browns: A Football Life”. NFL history would look a whole lot different if Art Modell had stayed in Cleveland and retained the head coaching services of Bill Belichick.

    The Browns were on the rise.

    ————————————————————–

    I completely agree. Belichick also left a lasting influence that would carry over to Baltimore and them winning SB XXXV. Impressive.

  34. There were a whole lotta idiots that said the same thing about BB back then (Ian O’Connor is the most popular meme floating around social media right now). All those “experts” can go pound sand.

  35. drocity says:
    Jan 30, 2017 4:38 PM

    I seem to remember thinking that the team was poorly coached under Pete Carroll. Regressed further two seasons after their SB loss to Green Bay. After the iron fist of the Tuna, Pete was Pete and their was very little discipline. Just sloppy. And yes Greier was blamed, but many of those players who won in 2001 were selected by Bobby Greier. I am just going by memory (which has been affected by all this winning) so I could be way off.
    **************************************
    Yes, many of the players in 2001 were Grier players, almost exclusively on defense. Specifically I think Law, Milloy, Bruschi, Johnson, and Tebucky Jones. That was from mostly 95-96, before Parcells left. Jones and Faulk were the only notable players Grier drafted after Parcells left. In fact, his draft record from 97-00 was abysmal especially considering the compensation picks they got for Parcells going to the Jets.

  36. Kraft is sloshed 24/7 these days with his daughter on his arm, so I’m sure he remembers the conversation differently. But we are talking about Art Modell, one of the biggest scumbag owners ever, so let’s call the truth down the middle somewhere.

  37. @kpizzow… typical revisionist history. Modell did NOT create MNF. His broadcasting connection s erved the NFL well in the early years, but he was eventually relieved of his negotiating position when others negotiated better deals. He was in line to have a stadium built for him and had failed as a business man by not fixing the cost basis of the Browns. It was that lack of foresight that threatened his families inheritance, nothing else.

  38. Kraft’s version is prob much closer to reality because at the time, Art was probably looking for someone other than himself (and his decision to move) for the 5-11 season. As others have correctly pointed out, until the decision to move, Belichick’s Browns were still mostly winning early in ’95 after a great ’94 season, until Art pulled the rug. And they were 4-12 the year after firing Belichick. But in 2000 Billick got the Ravens a Super Bowl win and Art no longer needed a scapegoat for that poor season during the move. Plus by the time Art died, Belichick had won 3 SBs and so Art excuse no longer held any water.

  39. handsofsteelhartofstone says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:51 PM
    belicheck sold his integrity a long long time ago. I don’t care what the pats Homers say, nobody outside of your fan base respects your organization. I’d rather be a browns fan
    —————————————————————–
    Go right ahead and be a Browns fan if you’d like. Don’t expect to see your team anywhere near a superbowl in your lifetime.

  40. davew128 says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:41 PM
    pastabelly says:
    Jan 30, 2017 3:21 PM
    Kraft’s mistake after Parcells left was not promoting Belichick as HC.
    **************************
    No, his mistake was letting Bobby Greier handle personnel. The team played its ass off for Pete Carroll (except Terry Glenn).
    =======================================
    =======================================
    Good point Dave, but I don’t think Carroll could have handled both jobs, so the correct move was not hiring Belichick as HC and GM. That was a bad look when Carroll was hired and Chris Slade was laughing and patting Pete on the back, saying, “my man”.

  41. At least Modell years ago admitted a huge mistake.

    The old boys club Boston writers at the Globe and Herald (Bore-yas, Wil Mc Idunno, Shamesy, and I can’t remember that fat, little, fired turd at the Herald, etc.) either went to their grave in denial or are still doubling down on what a dumbazz Belichick is.

    I love that Borges still has the chutz pah to “grade” Belichick’s team performance every week and ridicule his draft annually, calling him a fool for drafting one all-pro after another. Even demanding his resignation repeatedly.

    I love Belichick’s personality and press conferences enough already, but these persistent idiots make it so much better. Tell me again how great your buddy Farcells was.

  42. I hate the Pats but let me tell you something about Bill Belichick. 28 players of his current roster were either undrafted free agents or were taken in rounds 5-7. Bill is the GOAT. Sorry Vince.

  43. davew128 says:
    Jan 30, 2017 4:45 PM

    drocity says:
    Jan 30, 2017 4:38 PM

    I seem to remember thinking that the team was poorly coached under Pete Carroll. Regressed further two seasons after their SB loss to Green Bay. After the iron fist of the Tuna, Pete was Pete and their was very little discipline. Just sloppy. And yes Greier was blamed, but many of those players who won in 2001 were selected by Bobby Greier. I am just going by memory (which has been affected by all this winning) so I could be way off.

    **************************************

    Yes, many of the players in 2001 were Grier players, almost exclusively on defense. Specifically I think Law, Milloy, Bruschi, Johnson, and Tebucky Jones. That was from mostly 95-96, before Parcells left. Jones and Faulk were the only notable players Grier drafted after Parcells left. In fact, his draft record from 97-00 was abysmal especially considering the compensation picks they got for Parcells going to the Jets.

    **************************************

    I went back and looked at those drafts and I could not agree more. Nice work, Dave!

  44. Amazing that the genius Belichick has coached 6 seasons without Brady and has made the playoffs just once and won one playoff game. Multiple coaches have stated that they thought they would be fired after starting 0-2 in the 2001 season after going 5-11 the season before. Then miraculously Bledsoe gets hurt and then Belichick becomes the Greatest Ever.

  45. Don’t forget that Al Davis interviewed Belichick for the Raiders’ HC job in 1998 but chose to hire Jon Gruden instead. Gruden did a pretty good job in Oakland but if Davis had hired Belichick instead then the Raiders & Pats results over the last 20 years may have been a lot different (for each team).

  46. steelcurtainn says:
    Jan 30, 2017 5:07 PM

    Modell was right. Thats unless you want a cheating head coach with no integrity or class. Thats exactly what belicheat is.
    ————————————————————-
    Sounds like someone is still a bit bitter over a 36-17 curb stomping in the AFCCG (or as this site weirdly insists, the NFCCG). Don’t worry little buddy, time heals all wounds.

  47. So just to recap:

    Art Modell fired Paul Brown. He fired Marty Schottenheimer. Then he fired Bill Belichick.
    ————————————————
    And he hired Brian Billick and John Harbaugh who so far have won 3 Super Bowls…

    So your point is what??

  48. Let’s not ignore the fact that the Patriots play in a division that doesn’t have a decent quarterback or head coach – year after year after year. Not to diminish their accomplishments, but when you’re spotted 5-6 wins every season it makes it a little easier to get that first round bye, home field advantage and the resultant easier road to the Superbowl.

  49. Going to have to trust Kraft’s recoollection over Modell’s. Wellington Mara, who seldom spoke a harsh word about anyone, once warned Pete Rozelle that if Modell said it was to Tuesday he should check a calendar before proceeding on the information. Art Modell was an ad man and legendary shyster. With an investment of only $250k of his own money he ended up purchasing the Browns that were valued at $4M at the time. 44 years later after the team had become the Ravens valued at $6ooM and in spite of a $25M annual subsidy from MD Modell was forced by the league to sell the team to keep it from going bankrupt. A 240,000 % increase in the value of his investment made from hitching his wagon to the Rozelle/Mara/Rooney stallion and he still ran it into the ground. All the while bleeding the city of Cleveland white through the sham that was his control of Municipal stadium and leaving nothing but scorched earth in his wake.

  50. Let’s not forget that the Patriots historically beat every other team in the NFL at the same clip, (if not better), than the AFC East.

    They are not “spotted” these games–They earn the wins they get and occasionally lose a some due to the competition in the division.

    NFC, AFC–it hasn’t mattered who is in front of them.

  51. ikeclanton says:

    Let’s not forget that the Patriots historically beat every other team in the NFL at the same clip, (if not better), than the AFC East.

    They are not “spotted” these games–They earn the wins they get and occasionally lose a some due to the competition in the division.

    NFC, AFC–it hasn’t mattered who is in front of them.
    ——————————-
    Might want to review their record against the Broncos and the Giants in post-season games…

  52. What is probably the most forgotten aspect of this story is the hideous logo behind Modell that the Ravens used for their first few years in B-more. That, and it was apparently stolen from the artist. To their credit, I wouldn’t have paid for it either.

  53. stuartscottslefteye says:
    Jan 30, 2017 6:34 PM
    Let’s not ignore the fact that the Patriots play in a division…
    ____________________

    That provides them with better competition than most. What division would you prefer they play in? As a practical matter they’d need to go to division in the eastern part of the country and from a rivalry standpoint a north division would be even better. How about the AFCN where in the Brady/Belichick era the Pats are .828? Probably not what you had in mind. The NFCN? Nope, .875 there. How about the NFCE? .813 probably won’t give you what you are looking for either. Maybe that .789 against the AFCE is suddenly not looking so bad. For the 4th year in a row the Pats lost as many times in 6 division games as they did to the rest of the league in 10 to the rest of the league. No doubt the other teams in the AFCE would appreciate some help with the heavy lifting.

  54. It’s a shame, the Patriots should be hands down the best dynasty in the history of professional sports…but they’ve thrown it all away by cheating. Not a single accomplishment can be pointed to, it’s like it never happened. They have been caught fundamentally cheating the integrity of the game twice and no protestations by Pat’s fans can ever change that….

  55. Lame attacks by the stealers fans on Belichik. He owns the stealers as much as the bills, but unlike Bufalo, Pittsburgh just folds, sadly, your envy doesn’t change the truth: you are under the Patriots thumb.

  56. squishman says:
    Jan 30, 2017 7:52 PM
    If the last playoff game the Browns won was in 1994, then the Browns have NEVER won a playoff game.
    _________________

    The record book disagrees. The agreement that allowed Modell to move the team left all of the team history with the pending expansion franchise. The Ravens became a ‘new’ team.

  57. yup, Pittsburgh gothe thumped, it happens.

    but I’d rather go 0-16 with an honest effort than win every super bowl knowing that my scumbag owner and coach are habitual cheaters.

    brady’s reduced salary and his private business contracts with the patriots are the most obvious violation of league rules I’ve ever seen. deflate gate was a complete scam concocted by kraft and Goodell to give the appearance that the pats are being punished when in fact, they have been in cahoots since Goodell took office

  58. handsofsteelhartofstone says:
    Jan 30, 2017 9:03 PM

    deflate gate was a complete scam concocted by kraft and Goodell to give the appearance that the pats are being punished when in fact, they have been in cahoots since Goodell took office
    ————————————————————-
    Was having Pittsburgh forget to cover Chris Hogan part of the scam?

  59. handsofsteelhartofstone says:
    Jan 30, 2017 9:03 PM
    deflate gate was a complete scam concocted by kraft and Goodell to give the appearance that the pats are being punished when in fact, they have been in cahoots since Goodell took office
    _______________________

    Hat by Alcoa or Reynolds?

  60. Modell bought a team that had been in something like 10 or 11 straight NFL Championship Games, winning a number of NFL Titles.

    Then, Modell intervened. Uh oh, Spaghetti-Ohs for Cleveland.

    Unless I’m overlooking someone, Modell’s first firing was absolute legend/Hall of Fame beast and visionary Paul Brown.

    And Modell’s last firing was future absolute legend/Hall of Fame beast and visionary Bill Belichick.

    And if that wasn’t enough — at some point after that, Modell somehow wounded his own scrotum. I am not making this up, folks. How in the hell do you shred your own beanbag?

  61. Art Modell has the dubious footnote in history of Firing 2 of the greatest coaches in History, Bill and PB along with forcing the greatest player in history to retire early, JB

  62. jchipwood says:
    Jan 30, 2017 1:59 PM
    Because Modell caught Belichick cheating when he offered $10,000.00 to any who could tell him what Ernie Adams did in the organization. Belichick stopped and couldn’t win without cheating.

    ————————–

    What Model found out was that Adams does analytics and strategy analysis. He is quite good at it, he also applies his abilities to the stock market and is quite wealthy. And also it is not cheating, many teams employ guys that do that type work. Also, Modell never told Belichick to stop employing Adams, they still work together to this day. And if you check the record books, Belichick has been winning a lot without cheating.

  63. Kolo Jezdec says:
    Jan 30, 2017 7:19 PM
    ikeclanton says:

    Let’s not forget that the Patriots historically beat every other team in the NFL at the same clip, (if not better), than the AFC East.

    They are not “spotted” these games–They earn the wins they get and occasionally lose a some due to the competition in the division.

    NFC, AFC–it hasn’t mattered who is in front of them.
    ——————————-
    Might want to review their record against the Broncos and the Giants in post-season games…

    ————————

    Why is the counter argument to whether the Pats have an easy division referring to the Broncos and Giants? Neither of those teams are in the AFC east which was the discussion. Neither of those teams have a history of winning or even of getting to the postseason that can match the Pats either. And neither of those teams is playing football right now so neither of them matter.

  64. The Cleveland Browns never fired Bill Belichick, that is a myth. Modell moved the team to Baltimore and told Belichick his services were no longer needed. The Browns didn’t even technically exist at the time Belichick was relieved of his duties.

  65. Modell was hoisting a Lombardi over his head before Kraft was so I think that gives him some right to give advice. Maybe the Patriots have more championships but they also have a lot more scandal which has tainted each of those championships. If I were Kraft and the NE fans, I’d keep my big mouths shut.

  66. Because Modell was so good at talent evaluation. Aside from firing Belichick, he fired Paul Brown and Marty Shottenheimer. Two firsr ballot hall of fame coaches and another very good one.

  67. Let us not forget, folks. This is a raging lush who married into a fortune. But he’s the greatest owner ever and an even better person, right Pats fans?

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