Even though Art Modell was a high school dropout, he moved on to become the majority owner of the Cleveland Browns from 1961 to 1995. Also during that time Modell was president of the NFL from 1967 to 1969. In 1996 Modell decided to move the franchise to Baltimore, and so the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore loved the move and Modell for the decision but Cleveland despised Modell for it. Cleveland hated Modell back then, and some even still, like they hate LeBron James now. Cleveland was left with no pro football team for three years until 1999 when owner Alfred Lerner brought it back. Modell saw his team win 2 NFL Championships, one with the Browns in 1964 and the other in 2000 with the Ravens. In 2004 Modell sold the majority of the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti, but remained a minority owner.
Not only was Art Modell a great owner but he changed NFL football in a major way. In 1970 Modell was a key factor in the NFL and ABC contract that allowed Monday night games to be televised. Actually Monday Night Football being on T.V. was his idea. Modell took his idea to ABC and the contract was done. That same year the Cleveland Browns hosted the first ever Monday night football game in front of 85 thousand fans at the stadium and even more watching from home. So Thanks to Art Modell we can watch our favorite teams play on Monday nights in the comfort of our own homes.
In 2001 Art Modell was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and made it all the way to being one of the finalists. Modell was a semifinalist in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, but never received the votes he needed to actually get into the Hall of Fame. Maybe next year.
This morning Art Modell’s son, David Modell said,
“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at 4 a.m. this morning. My brother John Modell and I were with him when he finally rejoined the absolute love of his life, my mother Pat Modell, who passed away last October. Poppy’ was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren. Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore. He made an important and indelible contribution to the lives of his children, grandchildren and his entire community. We will miss him.”
Modell has left his mark in the NFL and will never be forgotten. Modell seemed to be a passionate and dedicated man who loved the game of football. Rest in Peace Art Modell, and thank you for giving us Monday Night Football.