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Recalling Art Modell's joy in Baltimore

My daughter Kitty and I had the privilege of enjoying one of the last Ravens games of the 2011 season with my uncle, Art Modell. As I watched him from afar, I could not help but sense the great loss of the love of his life, his wife Pat. Although surrounded by friends and family, my uncle was truly alone after so many years. And in his loneliness, another deep loss was becoming more apparent — as he looked out at the game, the melancholy thought must have passed his mind that this might be his last season.

To solidify his greatness of the moment, and to boost his spirits, I wrote the poem, "Baltimore," for him. The finality and nostalgia of the first and second stanzas have been added since his passing. Although I had written them at that time, I did not want to share these thoughts with him. For me, as I wrote, I knew that "Baltimore" would become his eulogy. I was at that cold Cleveland game in 1964. That was a very long time ago. As I watched my dynamic, handsome uncle during that game last December, I knew that he was at his life's end.

I would like to share this poem with the fans of Baltimore. This poem is not only a tribute to my uncle, but it is a tribute to the fans. The fans fueled the fire in my uncle's heart and sustained his spirits. I thank all of the fans for giving him and his loving wife, Pat, their joyous final years.

Jane B. Modell Rosen, New York

Baltimore

"11 season's end, lights gone down

In Baltimore town.

Cheers and noise silent now.

Sundays slammed the door

On a town of Sun.

I watch the man,

Polo coat of tan,

Looking out towards a bare field of green.

And as I secretly watch, I remember back then,

When it all had begun.

In '64, on a cold December day,

The Colts came to stay,

To graze on the Erie grass

For just a moment in time.

And on that that day,

In a ferocious way,

Those Colts were beaten

By team effort sublime.

And the years went by,

And as footballs fly,

Those Colts trotted off

To seek another pasture.

With more syllables true,

In white and blue,

Hooves bound for fields of

Indiana stature.

And as seasons progressed,

With passions pressed,

A new move stood firm

Leaving orange and brown.

ABM with sights of steel M&T,

Forged spirits strong with Bisciotti,

Of purple and black for

A fierce Raven's town.

Decisions set to build a dream,

To fill the void, a winning team,

Art's artful choice of

New turf to explore.

He'll bring back Sunday snow,

Cold weather Joe,

Stands of beating hearts

And Poe's Baltimore.

And in '96, hope's received,

The receiver's weave,

Towards Tampa's fireworks night,

A team's electric soul.

Under Art's watchful gaze,

Strategies to amaze,

The ring's blinding light,

Charged at the XXXV Super Bowl.

So Modell's arrived!

Hopkins and others thrive,

With worldly gifts to fill a need:

Art's intentions all along.

And wisdom's move,

To slice a groove,

Game day he brought

With fame and spirit strong.

Through strength of test,

He's achieved the best,

Much more than sport,

An integrity loud and clear.

Brilliant humor and wit,

With no intention to quit,

Bringing soda, hot dogs,

And foam beer.

Once a New York boy,

Always the real McCoy.

On the fifty proudly he sits,

As a Baltimore man.

With eyes and arms raised,

Towards the man to be praised,

His city cheers loudly for him:

"Thanks to you, Art, football's quintessential fan!"

Jane B. Modell Rosen

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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