By: Matt Dery
Art Modell has passed away today at the age of 87. The long-time owner of the Cleveland Browns and then Baltimore Ravens is no longer with us. Many NFL writers have hit the airwaves and twitter to give their thoughts and of course, there will be discussion and argument over Modell’s legacy now that he has died. Clevelanders, such as myself, know the real story.
Heck, Uncle Artie even admitted the truth many years ago that in 1995 he was going broke and moved the Browns out of Cleveland to save his own behind. Modell was a terrific owner and a pretty good businessman, but at that time, it was not going well for him. The team stunk, his facility was terrible, and Bill Belichick had basically taken the fan base and face-washed them into the turnbuckle. This was Modell’s doing. He was the boss and this was HIS TEAM. Instead of going to the fans of his proud franchise or to city and state leaders for help, Modell took his ball and escaped to Baltimore. New team, new stadium, and survival for him and his family. He lied, and then lied again and the NFL allowed it to happen. The league did bring the team back and the Browns were to have their history and colors, but it has never been the same.
Modell was the ultimate family-man and a true pioneer for the NFL. I get it. But today is not the day to turn his death into yet another Cleveland “Bashfest” or a day for certain Baltimore honks to defend what happened. These are the same people who wanted the Irsay family burned at the stake for taking the Colts out of their city in the middle of the night in 1984.
Modell does not belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in my opinion. A “Hall of Famer” does not move a franchise like the Cleveland Browns and take a team away from some of the best fans in the NFL. Nope. Below is an example of my twitter exchange with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who is a former Baltimore writer who was in that city in 1995 when Modell moved the team.
RIP, Art Modell. Covered him in Baltimore, enjoyed the back-and-forth. Departure from Cleveland more complicated than portrayed.
@Ken_Rosenthal Another Baltimore Slappy Alert
@deryNBA Speak English?
@deryNBA And evidently you didn’t read me in Baltimore.
@Ken_Rosenthal Your original tweet about Uncle Artie appeared to defend him, no? If I’m off base, please tell me.
@deryNBA Tweet was in plain English. Plenty of blame to go around. He deserved his share. So did Cleveland officials.
@Ken_Rosenthal He admitted he was bankrupt years later! How is that the fault of Cleveland officials?
@deryNBA I am not from Baltimore and no longer live there. Other teams in Cleveland got new facilities. That’s part of the story
Rosenthal is correct. The Indians and Cavs did get new facilities.
Trust me, if Modell needed a new stadium to survive and keep the team in Cleveland, HE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN IT!!! Wow. Imagine Mr. Ford taking the Lions out of Detroit. See, you can’t because he would never do that.