Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell died at the age of 87 on Thursday morning of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the news has been tough to process for Browns fans. Modell earned his reputation as a savvy owner after purchasing the Browns franchise in 1961, but he made a very controversial decision to move the team to Baltimore in 1996 and left Cleveland to pick up the pieces. Those scars have never really healed for Cleveland fans.
An expansion Browns franchise emerged in 1999, but the Ravens stole the show with Super Bowl XXXV victory in 2000. Chris Pokorny of Browns blog Dawgs By Nature offered some brief thoughts on Modell's passing, and Pokorny's take on how Cleveland fans will process the moment is about as honest as it gets:
Donovan asked the question, "How will we choose to remember Modell?" I don't think you need to ask that question. As Donovan said, the move to Baltimore is as painful of a memory as this city has ever experienced. Fans will never forgive or forget what he did, and any soft spot that fans had for him deteriorated decades ago.