Art Modell's spirit lives on in Ravens as an organization

All the strong qualities that Art Modell brought to the Baltimore Ravens have surfaced.

Modell, 87, died Thursday morning of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital , and if the Ravens weren't practicing Friday, it would have been hard to tell that they have a game Monday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It's a somber but celebratory mood over at The Castle. It's sad because a giant of a man is gone, but also a time to share Modell stories.

Almost everybody has one.

It's one of the main reasons the Modell family and the Ravens agreed to hold a silent viewing and memorial at M & T Bank Stadium on Saturday. Sons David and John are overwhelmed.

"John and I, on behalf of our family, wanted to be sure to thank this incredible community for the outrageous and wonderful and warm response in tribute to the passing of my father," said David yesterday.

"We know that Poppy had an incredible love affair with Baltimore and that Baltimore had this incredible love affair with my father."

Current Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had a strong admiration for Art Modell, and they built a bond after Bisciotti first purchased minority interest in 2000.

According to David, Bisciotti stayed with the family at the hospital during Art Modell's final days. It showed a side of the current owner hardly even seen in public and reminded David of the compassion shown by his father.

Bisciotti, head coach John Harbaugh and players Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs visited Art Modell the night before he passed away.

"We had a moment with my father at the hospital — the four players, head coach and owner — that easily rivals my father receiving the Super Bowl trophy in 2000," David said. "It was truly one of the most special moments in my life that I will never forget.

"I will tell you without any question or reservation that Steve Bisciotti is well on tract to being like Art Modell. I can tell you that in knowing him [Bisciotti] for eight or nine years — and then with my father and with my family in the hospital — he was as sweet and as kind as a human being I've ever interacted with in my life. He never wanted me to be alone. That was special. This city is lucky. They've gotten two good football owners."

Bisciotti and the Ravens responded in a way that was preached by Art Modell. Even though the Ravens were an NFL team, Art Modell treated it like a mom and pop operation.

That's not a criticism, but the ultimate compliment. Art Modell treated every employee and media person like they were part of the team.

Modell always made himself accessible to the media and usually answered his own phone.

When the team was at the old training complex on the other side of Owings Mills, people walked in and out of Art Modell's office like it was the post office. He loved to chat.

Even now, years after he relinquished majority ownership, the Ravens still have one of the hardest working and most professional staffs in the league. It's a reflection on Art Modell.

People and fans always came first.

"There wasn't any inconsistency with Poppy," said David in reference to his father. "He wasn't one way at 5 in the morning and another way at 7 at night. He was the same all the time; thoughtful, kind and a gentleman. If you ask anyone who had contact with him that was the way he was."

John Modell said: "There were never any shortcuts. He was tough that way. He was uncompromising and you never could get anything around him. It was always talked about, always out on the table. There were no short cuts to success."

It's a fitting tribute that Modell will be honored Saturday at M & T Bank Stadium. There will be a lot of fans and friends there, and former players like Matt Stover and Jonathan Ogden, who were at the complex Friday.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has requested a moment of silence at every home game this weekend. It will be interesting to see how that will play out in Cleveland where the Browns host Philadelphia.

John and David Modell aren't concerned. According to John, he has received more than 150 texts and emails from Clevelanders offering condolences and expressing an admiration for Art Modell and what he did for the city.

"So there are some people who talk loud and don't have some great things to say, but tons of people if you went there and talked to them that know he was helpful and did a lot of great things there," John said.

David agreed, and said he was glad of the legacy his father left in Baltimore.

"We hope the legacy of this team and its reflection on the community will carry on," said David. "It goes back to the Colts. In a lot of towns, the city and the team are separate entities. In Baltimore, the football team is part of the soul of the city. My father always believed that."

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