The Baltimore Ravens announced the passing of former owner Art Modell on Thursday morning.
Modell, whose remarkable 43-year NFL career made him a regular finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore at the age of 87.
Former Ravens president David Modell issued this statement:
“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at four this morning. My brother John Modell and I were with him when he finally rejoined the absolute love of his life, my mother Pat Modell, who passed away last October.
“’Poppy’ was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren. Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore. He made an important and indelible contribution to the lives of his children, grandchildren and his entire community. We will miss him.”
Known primarily for moving the old Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996, longtime NFL owner Art Modell actually had a much stronger hand in what happened in the league for decades than that one footnote would indicate.
Modell served as NFL president from 1967 through 1969, was instrumental in the first collective bargaining agreement with NFL players in 1968, and helped create what eventually became “Monday Night Football” in 1970.
Modell sold his controlling interest in the Ravens in 2004 to current owner Steve Bisciotti however still mainted a 1% ownership of the organization.
“He was my friend, my mentor. We will miss him so much. How lucky are all of us to have had Art in Baltimore? How fortunate I am to have had him teach me about the NFL. His generosity, his love, his humor, his intelligence, his friendship – we were all blessed by this great man. We will strive to live up to his standard.” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti stated in a press release.
Current Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome added “Art was a giant in our industry. He was my boss – but he wouldn’t let me call him that – my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I’ve ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful.”
Art will be missed by many in Baltimore. May he Rest In Peace.