Former Ravens owner Art Modell passes away at 87

September 06, 2012 | WNST Staff

The man who brought NFL football back to Baltimore in 1996 has passed away.

Former Baltimore Ravens owner Arthur B. Modell died Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to natural causes. He was 87 years old. His sons, John and David, were at his side.

“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at four this morning,” said Modell’s son David in a statement released by the Ravens. “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.”

Having owned the Cleveland Browns since 1961, Modell announced he was moving his franchise to Baltimore on Nov. 6, 1995. The team was given a new name and treated as an expansion franchise as the city of Baltimore enjoyed NFL football in 1996 for the first time since Robert Irsay had moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in March 1984.

A report from Cleveland late Wednesday night said Modell’s vital organs were failing and his sons were at his side in the hospital.

“’Poppy’ was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren,” David Modell said. “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.”

Modell remained the majority owner of the Ravens until 2004 when he sold his share of the franchise to current owner Steve Bisciotti.

His crowning achievement in Baltimore was the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory over the New York Giants on Jan. 28, 2001, the city’s first NFL championship since the Colts’ Super Bowl V victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 1971.