OUR BIGGEST CIVIC NIGHTMARE: What if Art Modell never came to Baltimore?

December 04, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

to move to Baltimore. I don’t think, we, as a community that was raped by Bob Irsay in March 1984, should EVER apologize for stealing the Browns.

But as a community, we didn’t give lip service like they did in Phoenix and Jacksonville and Oakland and Charlotte. We bought PSL’s, we went to the games, we painted the city purple and all because of one man: Art Modell.

Modell promised to be class act in Baltimore and promised to make us proud. Over 13 years, we can all honestly say that the experience Modell has provided this city should only further PROMOTE his cause for Hall of Fame induction. Art Modell built a MODEL FRANCHISE in Baltimore!

Al Davis has basically screwed three cities (one of them TWICE!) and he’s been in the Hall of Fame for YEARS! (Can you imagine Irsay coming BACK to Baltimore in 1996 and re-screwing us all over again with a wretched franchise? Can you imagine an Angelos-Irsay exacta at the same time?)

We were all afraid that Modell might suck as an owner here. That he’d blunder the finances like he did in Cleveland. That he’d be our “next” Bill Bidwill or Mike Brown or Bob Irsay.

But instead, he came here and gave us a franchise that’s been better than any of us could’ve hoped for during all of those years of pain without an NFL team and while Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Joe Ehrmann, Artie Donovan, Jim Parker, Ordell Braase, Tom Matte, Rick Volk, Bruce Laird, Toni Linhart and all of the other Colts greats of a generation walked the streets of Baltimore as ambassadors for a game and a league that left us widowed without remorse.

Art Modell built a model franchise TWICE and can’t get a sniff. What gives?

Whatever pain he caused Cleveland has long since dissipated and been rectified. But the pleasure and joy and pride he instilled in our hometown is never made public when it’s time to vote for Art Modell for the Hall of Fame.

We only hear about what he “did” TO Cleveland. We never hear what he’s done FOR Baltimore.

That’s truly an injustice and a disgrace.

When you think about civic contributions during your lifetime in Baltimore, what has given this community a bigger “shot in the arm” than NFL football and the Baltimore Ravens?

If it’s about contributions, Modell’s move to Baltimore should only serve as a major “plus” at this point.

He built the NFL in Cleveland and passed it on.

He’s now RE-BUILT the NFL in Baltimore and has passed it on to Steve Bisciotti and all of us as a community.

Sure, in 1996 I think it was a tough case to put Modell in the Hall of Fame. His status probably should’ve been “on hold” for a period of time. He promised to do things the right way in Baltimore and time has proven that he more than made good on his word.

Long after Modell is gone – and he only owns an emeritus 1% of the franchise and has no day-to-day role in any operation of the team – his gift will continue on to this community as a joyful, congregating passion for the rest of our lives.

And you know what’s even more Hall of Fame worthy: he did it the right way the second time around. Not that he has anything to apologize for in the way he ran the Browns from 1961 through 1995. There were near-misses and heartbreakers, but the Browns were far from a laughingstock franchise during his era of ownership there. Why do you think the Browns fans and the people of Cleveland loved the team so much and hurt so much when they bolted for Baltimore? It was because Art Modell did a phenomenal job of growing the brand of the Cleveland Browns not only in Ohio but around the country, where the Browns Backers fan clubs were among the most rabid in the country.

But today and on Sunday when you come to the game, think about YOUR life without the Baltimore Ravens. And if you’re old like me, think about all of those years without the NFL. And think about all of the fun, conviviality, joy and camaraderie the Ravens of Baltimore have brought to your life since 1996.

Art Modell is the one who made that happen.

And remember that Art Modell is the reason we get to enjoy all of the fun of having the nation’s sport in our backyard. And it’s the reason we’re all being given the first chance in 27 years to beat the Washington Redskins in Baltimore.

Stand up for Art Modell on Sunday night. It’s the right thing to do!

When the second quarter begins and the NBC cameras come back from their TV timeout, raise to your feet and show your love of football and Baltimore and what it means to you that we have the Ravens in our city.