Earlier today, it was announced that fomer Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell had passed away at the age of 87. Modell entered service in the NFL in 1961 when he purchased the Browns for $4 million. Modell would serve as NFL President and use his television connections to further enhance the league.
However, he is probably best known among younger NFL fans for taking football out of Cleveland. In the settlement of the lawsuit the city of Cleevland launched against the NFL and the Browns organization, it was determined that the Cleveland Browns colors, names, and history would remain in Cleveland, while Modell would be allowed to take the operations, players, and organization to Baltimore, where the team became the Ravens. Openly hated by the citizens of Cleveland, Modell would never return to the city. Baltimore embraced Modell for bringing football back to the city that had lost the Colts to Indianapolis.
In 2004, Modell sold the team to minority owner Steve Bisciotti, in part due to pressure from the league. The Ravens were consistently losing money under Modell, despite having no stadium rental costs, and the team receiving all parking, ticket, and concession revenues. Modell held a 1% stake in the team following the sale.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement about Modell's passing:
"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."