The news that Art Modell died earlier today in Baltimore at the age of 87 has produced very different ledes from newspapers in the two cities where the former NFL owner was a major presence.
“Art Modell, an entrepreneurial owner who restored an NFL franchise to Baltimore in 1996 and delivered a Super Bowl championship four years later, died Thursday of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 87, according to the team and his son, David.”
“Arthur B. Modell, who went from a high school dropout to majority owner of the Cleveland Browns and National Football League kingpin, and who was forever vilified in Cleveland after moving the storied franchise to Baltimore in 1996, died early today Baltimore, according to the Associated Press.”
The Plain Dealer adds that “Modell is probably best remembered by Browns fans for his controversial decision to move the team to Baltimore in 1996 and rename them the Ravens. The period remains one of the darkest chapters in the city’s sports history. Cleveland was without pro football for three seasons until the Browns returned as an expansion franchise in 1999 under the ownership of Alfred Lerner.”
The Sun, though, notes that “Modell was a visionary in the NFL’s boom years. Yet, even as the league he helped create grew into a billion-dollar industry, he was forced to relocate Cleveland’s legendary Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season to avoid bankruptcy and losing the team.”
Modell sold his controlling interest in the Ravens in 2004.