SB Nation Cleveland
Stay connected for news and updates Follow @SBNCleveland
Like us to subscribe
Art Modell's passing has reopened some old wounds -- most recently, the Cleveland Browns were the only NFL team not to honor their former owner on opening weekend -- but there appears to still be some things coming out of the woodwork that fans in Ohio might not be happy about.
The latest news, courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is that Modell was actually offered the possibility of the city building a new stadium -- a story that goes directly against Modell's reasoning for originally removing the Browns from the city:
George Forbes, who was Cleveland's council president during the late 1980s and a key player in negotiations with team owners during planning for Gateway, said he and others asked Modell to be a part of the project.
Forbes said leaders proposed building a third Gateway sports facility for the Browns, just south of the Inner Belt a couple of blocks from what is now Progressive Field. Forbes' memory for detail is hazy. But he said then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan, Jacobs and lawyers familiar with the financing options were present with Modell at a meeting when the offer was made.
It's unfortunate that this news didn't come to light prior to Modell's passing as this is obviously just one side of the story, but Cleveland fans will likely be a bit more displeased if the exact reasoning they were given for Modell moving the team wasn't a legitimate reason at all.
The Cleveland Browns will not be one of the teams publicly recognizing the passing of Art Modell on Sunday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer. It seems that the Browns and Modell's son David have concluded that the reception from fans of the team might not be the greatest.
Browns President Mike Holmgren reached out to Modell's son David and said 'we want to do the right thing by the Modell family,'' according to Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne.
"David told Mike that he really appreciated the call and the offer, but that he knew it would not be totally accepted by the Cleveland fans,'' Byrne said.
The NFL previously sent out a memo to all 32 teams, asking that each one recognize Modell's passing in some way. The Browns had planned to read a brief statement over their P.A. system, but that's now out the window. There wasn't going to be a moment of silence or anything like that, but it's safe to say that regardless of what it was, it would not have been well-received.
It's unlikely that the NFL will think this reflects negatively on the Browns organization, in regards to going against the memo. Browns fans simply do not like Modell given the fact that he moved the team to Baltimore abruptly, despite his long-standing ownership of the team (from 1961 to 1995). The Browns returned three years after Modell's team became the Baltimore Ravens under a new owner.
The NFL has asked that teams around the league have a moment of silence or other appropriate gesture to honor former owner Art Modell. All teams were asked to perform the gesture on Sunday before kickoff, including the Browns hosting of the Eagles. Earlier, Neal Gulkis had stated that it was a team decision to recognize Modell in some way on Sunday. The organization may have come to their own independent conclusions to do something at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but it appears they also had no choice after being asked by the folks on Park Avenue.
Clearly, this shines a national spotlight on the City, and I can't imagine a moment of silence would go very well and result in a good look for Browns fans. It's a relief that the "other appropriate gesture" part was appended on to the League's request, and here's hoping the Browns think of something creative.
The Browns will recognize former owner Art Modell prior to Sunday's home-opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Tom Withers of the AP. Modell died of natural causes at 87 years old on Thursday morning, instantly prompting a flood of both positive and negative reaction across the league.
There had been debate about whether the Browns should have a moment of silence before Sunday's game. It's not clear exactly what the team will do to recognize the former owner, but spokesman Neal Gulkis indicated that the team made the decision on their own -- it was not mandated by the league:
#browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said it was a browns decision. Team wants to show respect and dignity for family community and fans on modell— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 7, 2012
Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren offered his thoughts on the passing of Art Modell on Thursday, remembering the former Browns owner fondly. In comments published by Ohio.com, Holmgren called Modell gregarious and fun, and talked about how he almost came to work for Modell in Baltimore.
Holmgren had left the Green Bay Packers organization and had interviews lined up with the Seattle Seahawks, the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles. Modell attempted to get Holmgren to come to Baltimore first, but Holmgren ended up in Seattle, where he signed on as head coach. Said Holmgren:
"So I remember saying, ‘We have to contact the other two teams in all fairness.’ I contacted Art and [Philadelphia Eagles owner] Jeffrey Lurie. I remember Art ... every time I saw him after that he’d kind of jab me a little bit. They were doing well. They had built a new stadium in Baltimore and all those kind of things. But that was the situation. Had it worked out a little differently, perhaps he would have been someone that I would have worked for near the end there.
The passing of Art Modell has incited the debate over the former Browns owner's Hall of Fame credentials. Modell's name has come up for the Hall over the past decade, making it into the top 15 in the 2002. Former Plain Dealer beat reported and current WKNR reporter Tony Grossi is often cited as the man who single-handedly kept him out of Canton that year. Grossi claims he simply made the argument he was asked to make, representing the local Cleveland market and the negative impact Modell had made in Northeast Ohio.
Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown, as you would imagine, has quite the different reflection and reaction to the news of his passing. Bruce Raffei addressed the the Hall of Fame debate in a post there:
The hate from the city of Cleveland has been the sole reason this man was not honored by his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This continues to be one of the most heinous oversights in all of sports and the travesty that he was not inducted while alive can never be forgiven.
Obviously, Clevelanders would disagree. The unforgivable uprooting of the Browns was an act that overshadowed any other impact he had on the league, and his personal financial difficulties that forced the move mitigate his candidacy.