Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Art Modell, 87, Owner of Browns, Then Ravens

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Art Modell, 87, Owner of Browns, Then Ravens

Article excerpt

He helped make professional football more popular than baseball and rich beyond its wildest dreams but broke Cleveland's heart by killing his geriatric team, the Browns, to give birth to the Baltimore Ravens.

Art Modell, who helped make professional football more popular than baseball and rich beyond its wildest dreams but who broke Cleveland's heart by killing his geriatric team, the Browns, to give birth to the Baltimore Ravens, died Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was 87.

The death was announced on the Ravens' Web site. Mr. Modell had a history of coronary problems. In 1983, he had a heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass operation; in 1990 he had double bypass surgery; and in 2002 he suffered a heart attack and a stroke.

In a postwar era when pro football was extending its franchises across the United States and its reach into the fantasies of millions of armchair quarterbacks, Mr. Modell was the hands-on owner of the Browns from 1961 to 1995 and of the Ravens from 1996 to 2003. He was also a behind-the-scenes visionary.

For 31 years, from 1962 to 1993, he represented National Football League owners in negotiations with television networks that generated $8.4 billion for the league and gave fans at home a mind- warping, coast-to-coast succession of games that turned Sunday afternoons, then Monday nights and eventually Sunday nights into lost weekends.

An innovative, relentless promoter, Mr. Modell and the league even toyed with Friday night football. "We made the announcement," he recalled, "and within 72 hours Congress passed a law prohibiting Friday night games until the high school and college seasons ended."

ButMr. Modell supported a succession of winning ideas -- the expansion of the N.F.L. into many cities; the 1970 merger of the American Football League and the National Football League into competing N. …

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