I type this piece from Dallas, so all I am hearing on TV and radio are the National media people speak so glowingly of the man. I would never speak ill of the dead. It is unbecoming. But looking at my Twitter feed and listening to the Adam Schefter’s and Jason LaCanfora’s and Ken Rosenthal’s of the world opine on the man is firing me up. I can’t sit quietly.
On Sports Center this morning, Schefter, ESPN’s information guy discussed Modell and his Hall of Fame credentials. He said something to the effect of “there are people in the room (Hall of Fame voters) who couldn’t separate the good Modell did for the game from moving the Browns out of Cleveland.” It was an indirect shot at Modell’s most ardent Hall-blocker, Tony Grossi.
Guess what Adam, you are the one who can’t separate the two. You can’t have one without the other.
Then there was Rosenthal, the Fox Sports Baseball insider, formerly of the Baltimore Sun. We got into a back and forth on Twitter as he talked up Uncle Artie. Rosenthal claimed that the Browns move to Baltimore was “more complicated than portrayed.” Really, Ken? How so, I asked. His response: “plenty of blame to go around, He deserved his share. So did the Cleveland officials.”
Classic Baltimore spin.
As I told Rosenthal, it was pure and simple. Modell was BROKE. He admitted so years later. The infamous quote he made at that fateful press conference in Baltimore was “I had no choice.” Yes he did. He could have sold the team and kept the Browns in Cleveland. Instead, he found himself a parachute, and left an entire devoted city and fan base in the lurch. What we’ve seen since has been borderline horrifying. One playoff game in 13 years and only two winning seasons.
Meanwhile, the team that should be ours, the Baltimore Ravens, is run by one of our own legends, Ozzie Newsome, and has become one of the model franchises in the NFL.
Schefter also said that Modell was “hated to a LeBron James level in Cleveland.” He couldn’t be more wrong about that. I am over LeBron leaving Cleveland. I will NEVER get over what Modell did to us. NEVER.
LeBron was a player. Players leave. Franchises, successful franchises at that, don’t move out of town unless a city doesn’t support them. All except the Browns and the Seattle Sonics of course. The Browns have a rabid, national fan base, and sold out every single game for years. Only Modell couldn’t find a way to make a profit in a league where guys are making it hand over fist. Again he was broke, looked for a way out without selling, got his wish, and left us all holding the bag.
And Schefter says Cleveland hates Modell to a “Lebron type level?” Wrong. LeBron wasn’t/isn’t even close to as hated as Modell is in our fair city. It is not in the same ballpark for me.
I know Modell was the man behind Monday Night Football. I know that everyone who knew him is talking today about what a nice guy he was and how easy he was to talk to. I liken Modell to former President George W. Bush. No matter what your politics are, the majority of the people would tell you that W would be a a great guy to sit around, have a beer, and shoot the bull with. However, when it comes down to legacy, you can’t look past his warts. The same goes for Modell.
Today, you will hear stories from the national media types and anyone who was in Baltimore during and after the move about how terrific a guy Modell was and how much he did for the game of football. But for those of us who grew up living, breathing, eating, and sleeping Browns football, Art will always be the guy who ripped our hearts out because he was a bad businessman with too much pride and ego to do the right thing and sell the team.
No amount of revisionist history from outside of Cleveland is going to change that.