From the Cleveland Browns to the Baltimore Browns to the Baltimore Ravens? Why did it really happen? Should we canonize Art Modell?
Arthur Modell was definitely not a saint, but he was a principled man. Truth be told, Art never wanted to leave Cleveland, but financial hardship, much of his own doing, put him at risk of losing control of his beloved football franchise. The move to Baltimore was strictly business, and while we thank him it had absolutely nothing to do with the value presented by our great city.
Baltimore did not want to acquire an NFL football team this way. A decade had passed but the hurt of those Mayflower vans taking our Colts away was still fresh for fans of my generation. We would not wish that on any city, and in retrospect we should not blame Indianapolis.
Unfortunately, the city of Baltimore had no other choice but to go after the Browns.
After Baltimore's more than generous offer to build a new stadium and fanatically support a new franchise like it did the Colts, it became evident the city would never get a new team playing fairly with the NFL. We can thank former Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for locking out the Baltimore territory for the "Deadskins."
So Baltimore got the Browns, but unlike the infamous Colts owner Bob Irsay, Art Modell left the Browns name and colors to the city of Cleveland, which at that time was a much more valuable asset than the newly coined "Baltimore Ravens." Baltimore played the game to win and frankly just got plain lucky.
Art Modell was simply a businessman who made lemonade out of lemons to keep his Browns in the family. As a founding father of the NFL and a strong advocate for the creation of Monday Night Football, he should finally be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Bill Popomaronis, Phoenix