Art Modell

From Academic Kids

Arthur B. Modell (born June 23, 1925, Brooklyn, NY) was a National Football League team owner.

During the 1940s and 1950s, he worked in television production in New York City. He purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1961, for $4 million, using only $250,000 of his own money (he borrowed $2.7 million and found partners for the rest).

Unlike previous owners, he expected to be active in the management of the team, and fired legendary coach Paul Brown after the 1962 season partly because Brown mostly ignored him, and partly because the Browns players no longer wanted to play for him.

The Browns won the 1964 championship, which made Modell popular with fans, and Modell became active in NFL leadership and its profitable relationship with television, which made him popular with other owners. Along with Pete Rozelle and Roone Arledge he created Monday Night Football and was instrumental in negotiating all the league's television contracts.

Modell also took control of Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1973. Although it initially seemed a good business deal, clashes with the Cleveland Indians and broken promises by the City of Cleveland, as well as the escalating costs of maintaining the city's property, ate away at the Browns' balance sheet, putting the team and Modell in a critical finacial position. The financial distress of the Browns and Modell's Stadium Corporation, recounted in detail in the book "Fumble", eventually led to Modell moving the team to Baltimore in 1996 and renaming it to the Baltimore Ravens. This incurred the lasting ire of Cleveland fans. Modell, who always attended Browns games, has not attended a Ravens game in Cleveland since the move. Many sportswriters and commentators have reviled him, stating that his honorable course would have been to sell the team to local interests, and actively oppose his entry to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Modell, citing age and increasingly failing health, sold the Ravens in 2003 to Maryland businessman Steve Bisciotti. Art Modell retains 1% ownership and has an office at the Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland.

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