09-06-2012, 06:59 PM
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Art Modell, 1925-2012: grifter, traitor, model NFL owner.
If you are looking for the flip side to the platitudes regarding Art Modell that are being issued from Goodell on down there is this
Now Art Modell is dead. Good. He didn't die friendless and in pain, like Robert Irsay did, but at least he's just as dead. I hope Irsay gave him a friendly wave, one thief to another, as Modell plunged past him to an even deeper level of Hell. ...
The AP assures us that Modell was "beloved in Baltimore." Do tell.
Here is what Arthur B. Modell did for the city of Baltimore and its faithful football fans: In 1993, when the NFL was taking expansion bids, Maryland governor William Donald Schaefer recruited Robert Tisch, the co-CEO of Loews, to lead Baltimore's effort. "I had it all set ... and I'm 99 percent sure that I would have been the owner," Tisch told reporters later.
And then Art Modell called Tisch up and talked him out of it, steering his friend into buying a share of the Giants instead. When it came time to vote on expansion, Modell cast his vote for Jacksonville—against Baltimore, and against his own best friend, Alfred Lerner, who was trying to get a team there.
So Baltimore remained without an NFL franchise—and its stadium offer stayed on the table, for Modell himself to scoop up when he needed it. Because he had no choice.
That was the con. But he was a better grifter than he was a businessman. Cleveland had made it impossible for him to do business, imprisoned as he was in its terrible old stadium. So he cadged a $200 million stadium out of the citizens of Maryland—only to eventually mismanage his money and be forced to sell the team anyway.
Still, he won a Super Bowl before he had to cash out. And now he slides off to the flames of eternity, celebrated as a model NFL owner. Grant him that. In his greed and dishonesty, he embodied a timeless truth for fans everywhere: The NFL hates you, and all it wants is to steal your money.