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The man behind the NFL’S success: remembering a legend

–mwilliams0824@gmail.com

Steve Ruark | Associated Press

If you have paid any attention to news this NFL season, you may have heard that Art Modell passed away at the age of 87 on Thursday, Sept. 6. Modell was a polarizing figure in the NFL, but his influence reached out further than just football.

Modell is most notorious in my generation for moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore where they became the Ravens. He is hated in Cleveland, but loved in Baltimore.

Listening to comments from Cleveland fans that are still heartbroken over losing the Browns back in 1996 and comments from ex-players that revere him for his generosity and caring nature is enough to make someone not want to hear about Modell’s true legacy.

Most football fans may think that ESPN paved the way for us to watch so many games on Sundays, and one Sunday above all that commands the attention of nations — Super Bowl Sunday — but that is not the case.

The truth about the modern day NFL is it took a high school drop out with a vision, determination and drive to make it become what it is today.

The television contracts that Art Modell negotiated didn’t just make football more popular than baseball, it also laid out a blueprint for other professional franchises to become richer and more competitive.

Why is this so important to college students? Well, for one, that same blueprint is used by the bigger universities today.

With all of the money that schools like Virginia Tech and other universities get, eventually trickles down to schools like APSU.

It hits APSU when their football program attempts to compete with Division 1A schools, or the basketball team, and so on…

It starts here, with pioneers that pave the way for the rest to follow, and adjust to the times.

This is just a small recap of Modell’s legacy as it was given by ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the morning crew; Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

• Majority owner of Browns and then Ravens franchises for 43 seasons (1961-2003).
• One of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001; semifinalist for seven additional classes.
• Moved Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore in February 1996; changed team name to Ravens, leaving Browns history in Cleveland for a future team to claim (NFL returned to Cleveland in 1999).
• In 43 seasons of ownership, 24 teams had winning records, 18 made the playoffs, two won NFL championships (Browns in 1964, Ravens in 2000).
• Only elected NFL president in league history.
• Chairman of the Owners Labor Committee (1968), which successfully negotiated the NFL’s first players’ CBA.
• Served on the NFL-AFL Merger Committee, breaking the impasse for realignment of the two leagues by moving the Browns to the AFC.
• Worked closely with then-commissioner Pete Rozelle to establish NFL Films and became its first chairman.
• In 1970, was an important negotiator with ABC to launch “Monday Night Football” and volunteered to host the first game in Cleveland .

Reading about Modell’s life is enough to encourage anyone to go after their dreams. With that said—I wouldn’t want to deprive the Cleveland Brown fans of their right to hate the only man that brought an NFL title to the city. Good Luck in the future.

Art Modell will be missed. His vision will live on, and hopefully his generosity will, too.

About Mike Williams, Staff Writer

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