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.

Greater Akron Chamber

The Holden Arboretum

Northeast Ohio Medical University


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

Top staffers are leaving the FitzGerald gubernatorial campaign
I's too bad that the dirt on Fitzgerald dug up by Kasich's operatives and publicized heavily by the Yellow Plain Dealer has caused the weak staffers of the Fitz...

Churches come together to welcome and include Gay Games athletes
Nicely done!!! A little known fact about the El Salvadoran and Columbian scholarships.. A big thank you to the Faith Community for their support of Gay Games 9....

What do Ohio farmers need to do to control Lake Erie problems?
This was a great article, thank you, Karen Schaefer. There was an error- Roger Wise is the past president of the Ohio Farmer's Union; not the Ohio Farm Bureau ...

Registration for the 2014 Gay Games ends Monday at midnight
Judy Benson and Sally Tatnall are loved and appreciated by all in our community and throughout the US for their untiring work for OLOC and for educating the com...

Like any family, the Gay Games has its generation gaps
Great article ... important perspective.

Gay Games rodeo: Changing stereotypes
Robin, Thank you for a fine piece of recorded history. This is history in the making; a gay, Asian man, one of the last bronc riders in IGRA, and Rodeo at Gay G...

Ohio lawmakers hold hearing on prison food problems
So you fine them..this has been going onand the law makers are aware of this issue.I have been told by many about the maggots and rotten food not fit for a dog ...

Interview with early Beatle Pete Best
"the Leshdu (?) Quartet.." Actually that's the Les Stewart Quartet. George Harrison was in that band at the same time as the Quarry Men.

Experts debate whether to legalize marijuana in Ohio
I'm an Iraq war veteran and I know for a fact that medical marijuana will help my PTSD.. I can't stand taken these freaking pills mo more. I will not bow when t...

Copyright © 2014 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