Art Modell Dies, And Cleveland Is Definitely Still Mad At Him
You think Cleveland hates LeBron James? Well, it does, but next to the contempt in which the city holds former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, who died early today at age 87, it's nothing. Why? Well, precisely because Modell was both Browns and Ravens owner. He was the man who moved the original iteration of the Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season - where, of course, they became the Ravens, and also became good, making the playoffs eight times since 2000 and winning Super Bowl XXXV (Cleveland, lest you forget, hasn't had a pro team win it all since 1964, when - of course - the Browns did it).
The Browns are back now, but they haven't had much success, and the 1995 move is still very much a sore spot for Cleveland fans, given the way they supported the Browns for decades, and the way they backed a ballot measure to fund stadium upgrades with tax money just as Modell prepared to skip town, to name two. And there are plenty of people out there who feel like that still-lingering anger, even in the wake of Modell's death, is justified:
I'll stand up for Cleveland on this one -- The feelings of the people there on Art Modell are totally and completely understandable.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 6, 2012
Football fans in Cleveland are lining up to urinate on the grave of Art Modell.And I don’t blame them one bit.
— Joe DiSano (@joedisano) September 6, 2012
Hell, he brought the NFL back to Baltimore after the Colts relocated in 1983, and not even all of them (though many others were grateful) like Modell:
Rest in flames, Art Modell. You were a conniving grifter and a stain on my Baltimore home. The world is a little less shameful now.
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) September 6, 2012
So... you can imagine how a lot of people were reacting in Cleveland:
Caller to @kileybooms just now on what should be on Modell's Tombstone. "Let's see you try and MOVE now you jackass" .. Wow
— Dustin Fox (@DustinFox37) September 6, 2012
RIP Art Modell. I have a friend in Cleveland who is still angry at him and is actually happy about his death.Wow.
— Jon Wallach (@KenGriffeyRules) September 6, 2012
Good riddance to art modell the only person I was ever raised to hate
— Cody Harris (@COD30) September 6, 2012
go to hell, Art Modell.
— Will McG (@Sdbuck1) September 6, 2012
R.I.Pieces dick RT @wtam1100: BREAKING NEWS: Art Modell, former owner of the Baltimore Ravens, has died of heart failure.
— Bradley Vance (@realtalkchuck79) September 6, 2012
But no one's legacy is that uncomplicated. If you like the modern NFL - well, Modell was one of the people who helped make it what it is. He broke Clevelanders' hearts, but he and his late wife also did a lot of charitable good in the city (and in Maryland, after relocating the Browns). And while Cleveland might not be ready to forgive, there are plenty of Clevelanders who aren't about to celebrate Modell's death, either:
A man who no longer can return to a town that he at one time was loved in. A man that will forever be remembered for his greatest failure, instead of a career filled with accomplishments. Maybe he deserves that.
But I can't be happy that he died. I realize that there is a world full of Cleveland fans that won't agree, but I also realize that someone lost a father yesterday, and I don't take joy from that.
Death has a way of softening our view of a person. When it came to Clevelanders and Art Modell, it's likely nothing else could have softened anyone's stance toward the man. And safe to say - not everyone's stance is softened just yet. Large-scale forgiveness for the (original) Browns becoming the Ravens? That's going to take a lot more time - and, possibly, a (new) Browns Super Bowl win.
Getty photo, by Stephen Dunn
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