Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday. That way he'll have an excuse to do the same to start his workday, too.
Former Ravens owner Art Modell, who brought the franchise to Baltimore in 1996, died of natural causes Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Modell was 87. A hero in Baltimore for bringing professional football back to town and a villain in Cleveland for relocating the Cleveland Browns, Modell was much more than that. His impact on the sport as an owner is undeniable. Most notably, he was a driving force in the negotiations with television networks, helping make football the nation's most lucrative and popular sport.
Several members of the Ravens visited him in the hospital Wednesday, including Steve Bisciotti, the man who purchased the franchise from Modell, and general manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne, who were with the organization before it here arrived from Cleveland. Linebacker Ray Lewis also visited Modell, who had built and maintained relationships with many players.
"RIP Mr. Art Modell...without his dream I would have never been able to play for this great city...thank you," wide receiver Torrey Smith wrote on Twitter when the news of Modell's passing broke.
Modell, who got the hoist the Lombardi Trophy in 2001 when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he has not gotten a bronze bust in Canton.
RUNNING IT BACK
Mike Preston writes that Art Modell would have done anything for his family, the Ravens and the sport he loved. … Marshal Yanda and Courtney Upshaw say they will play Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. … Cornerback Lardarius Webb doesn't think he is one of the NFL's best cornerbacks yet, but he hopes to become one soon. … Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood was fined $8,000 by the NFL for an illegal block in the preseason.
The Ravens have shifted into regular-season mode and they will hold their first full practice of the week Thursday at 2 p.m.
RAVENS STUFF, BUT NOT FROM US
Bill Livingston of The Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that Modell's time in Cleveland didn't turn out the way he imagined it would. … ESPN says we need to know these five things about the Ravens. … Albert McClellan is one of many "surprise starters" around the league. … Who are the Ravens' biggest bargains? … CBS Sports has the Ravens at No. 12 in their first installment of power rankings. Meanwhile, ESPN ranked them at No. 6 in theirs.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The evolution of the Bengals run game continues. … The Bengals' website believes Ray Rice vs. Rey Maualuga is the matchup of the game. … The Bengals are looking to break through against their AFC North rivals.
SHAMELESS PLUG(S) OF THE DAY
Here are five Ravens stats that really matter entering Week 1.
AWAY FROM THE GRIDIRON
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Should Art Modell be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?