News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Metro RTA

Wayside Furniture

Meaden & Moore


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Sports


Art Modell dies at 87
Former Browns owner beloved in Baltimore, and semi-forgiven in Ohio
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
After moving his team to Baltimore in 1995, Art Modell's Ravens won the Superbowl in 2001
Courtesy of WKSU
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell died Thursday after a lengthy illness. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on the man who was vilified in one city but beloved in another.
Art Modell dies at 87

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:46)


(Click image for larger view.)

Art Modell died in the place he’s called home since 1995, Baltimore. That city’s sportswriters, like Aaron Wilson, are filling the papers with testimonials to his philanthropy, his humor, and the Ravens' consistent playoff appearances.

“Art brought the NFL back to Baltimore and brought a Superbowl title here.  In Maryland he didn’t really have a lot of enemies.  He had a lot of support.  And he was known as a guy that really would give everyone a square deal.  He was a friendly guy, a funny guy, and he was remembered that way today.”

In Cleveland, things were a bit grimmer.  For years, Modell was vilified for moving the Browns to Baltimore.  But it’s been 17 years since then, and fans have become more forgiving – even forgetting. 

“I feel a little bit saddened and I hope his family can overcome it.”
“I can't hold him responsible because he chose to move on somewhere else.”
“He should have been forgiven a long time ago.”
“I don't really have an opinion on it.”
“Didn’t really register.”
“The man's passing... OK.  He's gone.  We move forward.  You don't look back, you look forward.”


Buying the Browns
Art Modell was born in Brooklyn in 1925, into the family that started the East Coast sporting goods chain, Modell’s.  After serving in the Air Force, he got into television production and advertising, and bought the Browns in 1961 for $4 million.  Only $250,000 of that came from his own money; the rest came from partners and loans.

At the time Modell took over, Chuck Schodowski was a fresh-faced cameraman at WJW, the TV home of the Browns.
“We had, like, the oldest equipment in the world.  He called us 'the last of the wood-burning TV stations.'  But that was him.  He could [have] biting humor.”

Firing Paul Brown
Schodowski, who would gain fame as TV's "Big Chuck," recalls Modell's controversial firing in 1963 of head coach Paul Brown, who was from Massillon and led the team to seven championships in 17 seasons.

“It was a shock.  Cleveland loved Paul Brown.  And Paul Brown was from this area.  When he first constructed the team, I would say over 90 percent of the players were from this area.  I mean, this was really a hometown team: Akron-Canton area, Massillon and Cleveland.  Obviously, it was a big ego thing.  Paul Brown was getting all the press, and Modell loved the press, so I guess he just wanted him out of the way.” 

Monday Night Football
Modell was president of the NFL from 1967 to 1969, and he helped negotiate what has become one of the most lucrative sports broadcasting deals in the world: Monday Night Football.  In 1970, The Browns hosted -- and won -- the first “Monday Night Football” game.

Pro Football Hall of Fame spokesman Joe Horrigan says the marriage of TV and football is a big part of Modell’s legacy.
“It was a gamble; it was a risk.  They had to have some foresight in looking at prime-time sports on television.  And it was probably not an easy sell, and absolutely wasn’t to the networks.  So it was one of those things where it became a challenge not only to convince the network to do it, but then to change the culture of football.  And it became such a part of pop culture that obviously we’re still feeling the positive effects of that today.”

Still, The Browns haven’t won a championship since 1964.  

Football Hall of Fame
Since 2001, Modell has been a finalist or semi-finalist for the Hall of Fame eight times.  But the controversial move to Baltimore is often cited as a key reason he’s never been inducted.  

The move followed more than three years of battles between Modell and the city over improving or replacing Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  Modell always defended his position.

“What is required, and what we have here, was far beyond the capacity of the community in Cleveland.  I was not going to put myself in the position of demanding something, and then being accused of, time and time again, being an extortionist or shakedown artist.  I’m just not gonna do that.”

'A good boss'
Cleveland sued to enforce the Browns’ lease, and the NFL negotiated a deal for the team colors and history to stay in Cleveland.  Doug Dieken played for the Browns from 1971-84, and has been part of the team’s radio and TV broadcasts ever since.

“He was a good boss.  He was a man that did a lot of good things for the community when he was here.  Unfortunately he did one thing that was bad, and it’s unfortunate that we only remember the bad.  But I can see the good things he did, too.  You know when players had financial problems and they needed some help, because they didn’t make the money they do today, Art would always help them out.  He was generous in that way.”

In 1996, Modell set up shop as the Baltimore Ravens.  That team’s dismal inaugural year gave way to a Superbowl win five seasons later.  By 2004, Modell had sold 99 percent of the Ravens to current owner, Steve Bisciotti.  

Art Modell was 87.
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

The postal workers union is challenging mail-sorting closures in Ohio
Do not close the akron facilaty for mail processing. This will severly deminish mail service to the northeast ohio area, Cleveland can not handle this burden.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

Clarence Bozeman: In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University