For whatever it’s worth, when the Cleveland Browns ‘returned’ to the NFL in 1999, I was over Art Modell taking the ‘original’ team to Baltimore. The ‘Orange & Brown’ were back in a new, state-of-the-art stadium and all was right in the Cleveland sports world again.
Admittedly, it was never quite the same.
As the years went by and more of what went down was discovered and revealed, I blamed Modell far less for what happened.
Politicians, political agendas and untruths played a heavy hand in the Browns moving to Baltimore, but it was easier to put all the blame on Art Modell at the time – he owned the team.
He will always own a share of responsibility for what happened in taking the Browns to Baltimore, but to put it all squarely on him is unfair and foolish.
Was the team moving to Baltimore one of the most horrific things to happen in professional sports? Absolutely.
Was it completely Art Modell’s fault? Absolutely not.
Art Modell loved Cleveland and by all accounts-despite the Super Bowl success he ultimately enjoyed in Baltimore-he was never quite the same and until the day he died he had a heavy heart.
Browns fans are entitled to still be upset about what happened – it was as heinous an act as we’ve ever seen in professional sports.
But if any of you who are reading this are long-time Browns fans (and if you are truly honest with yourselves) you will quickly agree that your favorite Cleveland Browns memories were under Modell’s stewardship. The team enjoyed its greatest success when Modell owned the team and that is an undeniable fact. The NFL would never be where it is today without Art Modell and that is also an undeniable fact.
I’ll choose to remember all the good that Art Modell did for the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Browns and the fans.
Thank you, Art…