Art Modell ‘Poppy’ passes at 87
“‘Poppy’ was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren,” Art Modell’s son, David Modell said. “Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore.”
“Art Modell’s leadership was an important part of the NFL’s success during the league’s explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Art was a visionary who understood the critical role that mass viewing of NFL games on broadcast television could play in growing the NFL.”
“This has been a very, very tough road for my family and me,” Modell said at the time of the Browns move. “I leave my heart and part of my soul in Cleveland. But frankly, it came down to a simple proposition: I had no choice.”
“I have a great legacy, tarnished somewhat by the move,” Modell said in 1999. “The politicians and the bureaucrats saw fit to cover their own rear ends by blaming it on me.” – nypost
Art Modell AKA ‘Poppy’ passed at 87 years old, early Thursday! He was an NFL owner for over four decades (Cleveland Browns – Baltimore Ravens) and the driving force behind NFL and TV contract negotiations in the late 60’s! Modell actually served as the president of the NFL from 1967-69, and helped contract the first ever NFL CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) in 1968! He also helped create the first contract between the NFL and ABC for televising MNF (Monday Night Football). Modell was well-known and respected as pariah in Ohio, but tarnished his civic leader reputation when he moved the team to Baltimore in 1996… hence the Baltimore Ravens! Modell cited his move to Baltimore by saying that he lost millions of dollars operating in Cleveland and Baltimore was offering help with building a $200 Million dollar stadium! Baltimore used to house the Colts up until 1984 when they moved to Indianapolis… hence the Indianapolis Colts! Many people believe that ‘Poppy’ got passed up on the Hall of Fame ballot (quote above) because he moved from Cleveland to Baltimore, and “left” the city he spawned (in terms of football)! He was one of 15 finalists on the 2001 HOF ballot, and a semi-finalist for seven years from 2004-2011. Check out his background below, some reactions and a photo gallery of this NFL legend – R.I.P. ‘Poppy’!
“You get few chances like this,” Modell said at the time. “To take advantage of the opportunity, you must have money and friends with more.” – nypost
Background: Modell was born in Brooklyn on June 23, 1925, and dropped out of high school at 15 years old. He worked on a Brooklyn Navy yard to make money to support his financially strapped family after his father’s untimely death. Modell completed high school through night classes and joined the Air Force in 1943. He enrolled in Television school after WWII and produced one of the first daytime programs in the early 50’s. Modell went onto an advertising business in 1954, and built up enuff capital to purchase the Cleveland Browns for $4 Million in 1961. He called the figure “totally excessive”, but the team almost instantly paid off. Modell led them (as an owner) to a Championship (behind RB Jim Brown) in 1964, and the title game in 1965, 1968 and 1969! He also signed RB Ernie Davis (who broke Jim Brown’s rushing record at Syracuse) in 1962, but sadly Davis was diagnosed with Leukemia before he could even get his feet on the grass. Brown looked after Davis, helped him get into Syracuse, and was excited to be able to play tandem RB with him on the Browns. Brown backed up Modell in many ways, believed in him, and tried so desperately to help him into the HOF. Modell did win another Championship in 2001 after switching to the Baltimore Ravens!