Former Browns and Ravens RB Earnest Byner
( Getty Images, Baltimore Sun / April 1, 2007 )
"He gave me an opportunity. When I was deciding to retire, and I told him I wanted to coach. He told me, 'You can go look around and see if anyone else wants to sign you, but you will always have a home here.' When I came back, he allowed me to develop as a young coach, a young scout, let me work in the weight room -- all the stuff I wanted to do. He gave me the ability to do that, and he looked after me the way a father would.
"The league might have taken longer to get where it is were it not for him. He had the vision and the forethought to put some things out there that other people hadn¿t thought about, as far as handling revenue and how TV was being used to make the league bigger and better. I think that was really huge, really big for him to have that mind.
"I think he missed his calling -- he should have been a comedian. He could tell a story, he could make light of different situations. We'd be busting a gut sometimes on some serious stuff, making some serious decisions, and be busting a gut because he had that natural gift of levity. I loved that about him and am definitely appreciative of all that he, Mrs. Modell and that family did for me."--Earnest Byner