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Ravens senior VP Byrne reveals Hall of Fame induction was important to Modell

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNST Audio

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Members of Ravens organization, loved ones reflect on former owner Art Modell

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNST Staff

A number of members of the Ravens organization and others have chimed in with reactions to the passing of former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey, via AM1570 WNST or press releases. Here are a few of the reactions:

Former Ravens president and son David Modell:

“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at four this morning. 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. ’Poppy’ was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren. 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.”

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti:

“He was my friend, my mentor. We will miss him so much. How lucky are all of us to have had Art in Baltimore? How fortunate I am to have had him teach me about the NFL. His generosity, his love, his humor, his intelligence, his friendship – we were all blessed by this great man. We will strive to live up to his standard.”

Ravens General Manager & Executive Vice President Ozzie Newsome:

“Art was a giant in our industry. He was my boss – but he wouldn’t let me call him that – my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I’ve ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful.”

Ravens senior VP of public & community relations Kevin Byrne on AM 1570 WNST:

“Art was like a father for me, and I’m smiling as I say that. His humor was just dominant.”

“He loved his players, he loved the game & he felt a responsibility to give back to the community because they kept you in business.”

“We joked that if Art has his way, he’d put fans in the huddle.”

“[Making the Pro Football Hall of Fame] was important to him. He wold never say it publicly & he hated to say it privately.”

Former Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson on AM 1570 WNST:

“Every day it would be 10 or 15 minutes of non-stop back-to-back jokes. Just hilarious jokes.”

“He had already told us that if we won the Super Bowl he was going to do Ray’s dance, and he did it.”

“He didn’t want to leave Cleveland. It was the toughest decision he ever made.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

“Art Modell’s leadership was an important part of the NFL’s success during the league’s explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond. As the longtime chairman of the league’s Broadcast Committee, Art was a visionary who understood the critical role that mass viewing of NFL games on broadcast television could play in growing the league. Art played important roles in many other league matters as a key advisor to Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, and also built championship teams in Cleveland and Baltimore. His skills as an owner and league contributor were matched only by his great sense of humor. Any conversation with Art included laughs. He always left you with a smile on your face. We extend our condolences to John, David and the rest of the Modell family.”

Former NBC-TV President Dick Ebersol:

“I believe very strongly that Art Modell is one of the most important figures in the history of the modern NFL. He and Pete Rozelle developed the magic formula that married the potential of television to the game. Those funds from this marriage propelled the game into what it is today. Art was there with Pete, and Art made it happen. Those two, along with Well Mara – who convinced other owners about the power of shared revenue – are the three men who pushed the NFL into what we know today.

“My good fortune is that I met Art when I was a 20-year-old intern for Roone Arledge, and he was creating the first Monday night game. He treated that intern the same as he treated a 60-something TV executive many years later. He always made me feel special. He was open and natural, and there was not a phony bone in his body. His humor could solve the biggest obstacles. When I first became president of NBC Sports, I went to Cleveland to visit with Art. The thoughts he shared with me about television helped me gain success. His efforts in three-plus decades of steering the NFL’s TV committee are monumental. The debt owed by his fellow owners, the current owners and everyone else who has made a living off the NFL, is incalculable. The good news is that Pat [Modell] will now be back with her Art.

“But, I am so saddened with one thing: Art did not get to experience an induction into the Hall of Fame. The leaders in Cleveland, when he moved to Baltimore, put Art in an untenable situation and left him with the hard choice of moving. That scarred some people on Art. I hope in death Art is placed where he should be – in Canton in the Hall of Fame.”

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue:

“Art Modell made extraordinary contributions to the National Football League during his decades as an NFL owner.  When he stepped away from operating the Baltimore Ravens in 2004, his 43 seasons in the league represented more than half of the NFL’s history.  Art contributed to the NFL’s growth and success through the performance of his teams, his recognition of the unique place our sport has in American life, his active participation in the league’s governance, and his support of civic and community organizations.  He was a trusted advisor to both Commissioner Rozelle and me during our time in office.  His wisdom, knowledge and wit kept both of us grounded in the toughest of circumstances.  My deepest sympathies to David, John and the entire Modell family on their loss.”

 

 NFL Executive Joe Browne, the Longest-Serving Employee in the League Office:

“Art Modell was a most influential member of Commissioner Rozelle’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ for many years, along with Dan Rooney and the late Tex Schramm. Ironically, Art is the only member of that group who is not enshrined in Canton. Hopefully, the Hall of Fame media selectors will rectify that oversight in the near future – not as an emotional reaction to Art’s death, but as a rightful reflection of his longtime contributions to the NFL.”

New York Giants President and CEO John Mara:

“Art Modell was one of the greatest owners in the history of the NFL. He contributed in so many ways to the success of this league, and he deserves a place in Canton. More importantly, he was a decent man and a great friend to my family. We will miss him dearly.”

New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Art Modell. I regret that I hadn’t talked to him since the passing of his wife, Pat, last year. We both shared that experience, and I know how hard that was for Art. When I first entered the league, Art was quick to welcome me, and I always appreciated that. He leaves a lasting legacy for the many contributions he made to the National Football League. The one thing that I always admired most about Art was his understanding of the role television would play in the growth of the game of football and the overall popularity of the NFL. He understood the value of primetime games at a time when there really wasn’t a tremendous demand. He helped negotiate and launch ABC’s Monday Night Football in 1970. I can’t remember what Monday nights were like during the fall before Monday Night Football, nor could I imagine them without football today. Football fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for that alone. I speak for my entire family in extending our heartfelt sympathies to the Modells.”

Detroit Lions Owner William Clay Ford Sr.:

“On behalf of my wife Martha, our entire family and the Lions organization, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to David and John and everyone who knew and loved Art.

“Art was a great personal friend, and we shared many wonderful times together over the years. The game of football lost one of its’ all-time greats today. Art’s contributions to the NFL during his five decades in the game are immeasurable. I believe that Art did as much as any owner to help make the NFL what it is today. Art was a pioneer, a visionary and a selfless owner who always saw the big picture and did the right thing. Our game would not be what it is today if it weren’t for Art Modell.”

Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie:

“I will always be thankful for the way Art Modell reached out to me and made me feel welcome when I first became owner of the Eagles. Art was a man with a wonderful sense of humor. He also had a visionary grasp of the importance of making professional football accessible to television audiences, helping build the sport’s popularity to this day. We extend our condolences to the Modell family on his passing.”

Denver Broncos Owner and CEO Pat Bowlen:

“Art Modell and I certainly had a history together, most notably from our teams meeting three times in a four-year period playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl. In addition to making the Broncos-Browns into a fierce rivalry, those AFC Championship Games formed a common bond between the both of us as owners. Our teams had some great battles – there was no question about that. There really wasn’t a tougher place we had to play than Cleveland during that time period under Art in the late 1980s.

“We also had the opportunity to work together on several league committees and initiatives over the years. During Art’s four decades of ownership in the NFL, he had a strong impact on the league and was a great influence to so many in the game. He was competitive, passionate and very knowledgeable as an owner.

“On behalf of the Denver Broncos, I extend our sympathies and prayers to the Modell family during their time of loss.”

 Arizona Cardinals Owner Bill Bidwill:

“When you look at those most responsible for the growth and tremendous popularity of the NFL, Art Modell has to rank high on that list. The backbone of that success has been the league’s relationship with network television, something Art was instrumental in shaping. Personally, when I think of Art, I will always remember his great stories and sense of humor, his generosity and civic leadership, and his passion for the game of football.”

 Houston Texans Founder, Chairman and CEO Bob McNair:

“Art Modell was a very popular owner. He was very creative in marketing the NFL and made a lot of contributions in terms of expanding the fan base.”

 Former NFL QB and Ravens Director of Pro Personnel James Harris:

“First thing that comes to my mind are the contributions Art made to the NFL: his teams, to television, to naming Ozzie [Newsome] as general manager. He was a pioneer. Working with him, you got to see what a great person he was. He cared about all of us – players, coaches, scouts, everyone in the front office. Genuine is a word I would use to describe Art. He was a special, special man. And, it’s a shame he is not in the Hall of Fame. He belongs there, and a lot of us know that.”

 Longtime Browns and NFL Personnel Executive Michael Lombardi:

“Vision, humor and generosity always guided Art Modell’s life. His humor made him a daily pleasure to encounter. His genuine generosity, which supplied you with the tools to learn – as well as work your craft – will always be cherished, but his futuristic vision left a lasting impact on the game he deeply loved.”

 Longtime Browns and Ravens Personnel Executive Phil Savage:

“My thoughts of Art Modell have always been wonderfully positive. One of the things that he will always be remembered for is his quick wit. He was incredibly sharp-minded when it came to one-liners and stories that happened to him through the years.“I think the thing that I admire most about Mr. Modell is that he persevered through some tough times. He was a man that experienced being on a mountain top, but also had been through some very significant low points as well. He was always able to keep a positive spirit and break the tension with that sense of humor that he had.

 

“Like I said, all of my experiences with him were great – 14 years, including five with the Browns and nine with the Ravens. I think he always felt a little bit more of a loyalty to those of us that made that transition from Cleveland to Baltimore. It was a difficult time for a lot of people, but through a lot of support from he and his family and the leadership of Ozzie [Newsome], we were able to reach that Super Bowl. I think that there was a real connection between he and the team and the players. I think the players loved him, and he loved his players. Over the years, I think almost every player that you could talk to would say they enjoyed playing for him and his teams because he had such a passion for pro football.”

 Ravens Front Office Staffer Chad Unitas, Son of the Late Johnny Unitas:

“Art Modell was a true visionary and leader in the NFL and community. In the Ravens’ first year, I remember going to practices with my dad, sitting on Art’s golf cart and listening to Art ask my father how he could help him and all the older players with their disabilities. He cared more about them than he did about himself. He was a true gentleman that will be missed, but never forgotten.”

COACHES ON ART MODELL

 

Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick:

“Art Modell was all about family, and that’s how he directed the Ravens. He treated me, my family and everyone in the organization like a member of his family. Before I think of the gratitude I owe him for giving me the opportunity to be his head coach, I think of the way he treated all of us. I don’t believe there’s another NFL franchise that embraces that more than Art did. That was reflected in the people he hired. He created an atmosphere that was the best. It was a joy to come to work for him. He accomplished so much as an owner: championships, playoffs, the TV contracts, the leadership in the NFL. They are all great and deserving of the Hall of Fame. Those who worked with Art will all say the same thing. He was a Hall of Fame person.”

Former Browns, Chiefs and Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer:

“No, no, this is sad news. I loved Art Modell, and I was just thinking of him yesterday. He was a man’s man, someone you wanted to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with. He gave me my first head coaching job, and we had the most fun working together. We didn’t win the biggest prize, but we were awfully close, and we had a ball trying to get there. Art made it fun. His humor was the best, and my wife, Pat, always said what a gentleman he is – classy, and he ran his franchise that way. I have only good memories of Art.”

Former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher (who played and coached for Modell in Cleveland):

“One thing about Art, he loved his teams and his players more than anyone I met. He embraced his team with his whole heart and everything else he had. He took great pride in those who worked for him. Art always wanted to do the right things for his team – help in any way. I have great respect for him as a person. He wanted to help people who needed it, and he did so much for so many. Even when I was the head coach in Pittsburgh, I was so happy he won the Super Bowl. He deserved that championship, and it was tremendous to see him get it.”

Former Browns Head Coach Sam Rutigliano:

“Art was my friend and supporter. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.  Art was a hands-on owner, he never rode shotgun – whether at practice, the draft, or even at meetings. He was willing to do the real work to make us better. If Art could have given the trophy to Cleveland, I believe he would have. The people in Baltimore certainly deserved it.  There are some here in Cleveland who still love him. Art Modell was a major contributor to an era of football that was the best the NFL ever had.”

Former Browns Defensive Coordinator and Current Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban:

“I think Art is what I would call a legacy owner. Whether it’s the Modell family or the Rooney family or the Mara family, the old, traditional franchises had a tremendous amount of responsibility for building the league in the early stages, and Art was certainly one of those. He’s also a man who I have a tremendous amount of respect for by the way he treated me and my family when I worked there for him. When I got the head coaching job at Michigan State, he hired a secretary and had her take all the calls until I finished the season, and we had a playoff team. Lots of things like that that didn’t have to be done, just there to serve someone else who he thought he could help. I think he is one of the great all-time owners in the league. He also had a great sense of humor and was a lot of fun to be around.”

 Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator and Current Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach, Marvin Lewis:

“I have a lot of fond memories of Mr. Modell.  Just him being around every day, being at practice every single practice.  His great wit and one liners anytime we had meetings with him.  Just how passionate he was about that football team.”

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh:

“By a Providential twist of fate, we came to be friends of Art and Pat Modell and their wonderful family. Pat took my wife under her wing and made her feel like they had been friends forever. Art made me feel like I could accomplish anything. He was the most encouraging soul I ever came across. He uplifted everybody around him. I loved Art, and he loved my family, including my parents. He welcomed us to Baltimore with genuine warmth and grace.

“Art continued to be a big part of this great organization. He spoke to our team every year, and he interacted with the players and coaches whenever he was here. This was a strong and good man. He was a winner in every way. And his humor … He always, in every situation, made us laugh. He is in God’s company, along with Pat, and Art is telling some good ones right now!

“It is important to mention some things about Art:

“Art Modell was a visionary who broke barriers to help make the NFL what it is today and to help move our society forward in important ways. It was Art’s vision that married the NFL and TV together like nothing else in the history of sports and entertainment. He saw it first and drove it home with the networks and the league. Art negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in NFL history. On those two accomplishments alone, the NFL moved to the forefront of sport in America. Art also started Monday Night Football. How great it is that we are playing in the Monday Night Football opener this week? We should all salute him for that. Art was a frontrunner in breaking racial and gender barriers in sports. He was ahead of his time and pioneered change for the good. And, Art was a winner. There are a multitude of playoff teams and division champions, and he won the Lombardi Trophy right here with his beloved Ravens.

“It is often said about those inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame: ‘Can you write the history of the league without him?’ The answer with Art Modell is resounding. He was a great leader, but more importantly, he was truly a good man.”

PLAYERS ON ART MODELL

 

Former Broncos and Ravens TE Shannon Sharpe:

“Mr. Modell was one of the main reasons I came to Baltimore. I remember when I met him. He flew down to see me, and we flew back up to Baltimore together, and he learned so much about me and my family, and I learned about him as a man. I remember his words so vividly: He said, ‘Ozzie, get this deal done,’ and that was the start of something beautiful.

“One of my favorite moments in the NFL was when he spoke to us in the locker room after the Super Bowl victory. He said, ‘This is the proudest day of my life; you guys make me proud.’ And then he started to break down. That touched me. You could not only see the emotion from him and from all of us in that room, you could feel it. Knowing how long he had been in the NFL and how many great players he had been around, it was such a great feeling to give him something that he wanted for so long. We all wanted it for him!

“You see how close he was with his boys and how much he loved his wife, and he brought that atmosphere to the Ravens. He always had something positive to say, always had a joke to make you smile. I still picture him on his golf cart watching every practice, no matter what the weather was like. We were all in it together. The sport you see on TV today and what the NFL means to our society is in large part due to Mr. Modell.

“He was a great man, and I just wish that everyone got a chance to see him in the light that we did as players. It is a very sad day. I will miss my friend.”

Former Ravens T Jonathan Ogden:

“Art was more than a great owner; he was a great man. When I first met him, and he welcomed me to Baltimore, I knew he was special. The Ravens organization was a special place to be. He was more concerned with everyone else than he was about himself. Always wanted to know about how you and your family were doing. He is definitely one of the nicest, kindest people I have ever met. It would be very difficult to imagine what the NFL would be like today without a visionary like Art Modell. He was a ‘glass half full’ person every day of his life. I will never forget how he treated me and my family. He will always have a very special place in my heart.”

Ravens LB Ray Lewis:

“When you think about Art Modell, you think about a great man, a leader, a father and a servant. Every minute of his life, he cared more about everyone around him than himself. Anytime I saw him, he would always make me smile. He always had a joke to lighten your mood or some sort of wisdom to impart to make you a better man. I genuinely loved Art as a man, and he showed me what to strive for in life. When you truly see the impact he had on everyone he touched, it humbles you. When I found out he wasn’t doing well, I knew immediately I had to see him. When I was with him yesterday, I prayed with him and shared with him things that a son would say to a father. Even though he has left us, he is going to a place that one day we all want to be. I am truly blessed to have had Art in my life. He was a humble servant, and one of the best men I have ever known.”

Former Browns/Ravens DE Rob Burnett:

“I met Art 20 years ago, and he was my boss for 12 years. Not many people have had a bigger influence on my life than he did. He is part of my family, and he has always made me feel like I was part of his. He was a trailblazer and a big reason why the NFL is where it is now. There are no owners in history who could compare to him as a philanthropist and businessman. You look at the things that he has done for people, how many times he gave people second, third and fourth chances when other people wouldn’t have. He was a great humanitarian. Any chance I get, I tell people what a special person he was. There aren’t many people I could say this about, but I always knew I could count on him, and I think he knew he could always count on me. I will miss him dearly.”

Former Browns/Ravens K Matt Stover:

“I worked for Art for 18 years, and he is paramount to what the NFL is today. He was a visionary, and everyone who works in or is a fan of the NFL owes Art Modell a debt of gratitude and great appreciation for what he did to make this game great. As a man, he was one of the most philanthropic people I know. All of the tremendous things he stood for he passed on to his family, community and the people that he worked with, and that has made the Ravens and the NFL a better place.

“Art always empowered me to be my best, and did the same for everyone around him. I remember in Cleveland when I missed a field goal and was down on myself, and Art called me on the sideline phone. He told me, ‘Just hit the next one, kid.’ I’m not sure how many other owners would have done that. He was a special man and will be sorely missed by my family and me.”

Former Browns and Ravens RB Earnest Byner:

“The thing about Mr. Modell, his heart was always one of giving. That man did a lot for Cleveland, he did a lot for the players that were on that team, and he gave a lot of people a lot of second chances in life. He’s a juggernaut in the league because of what he did for Monday Night Football. He was a visionary, and he had the heart of a champion. For me, that pretty much says it all.

“He gave me an opportunity. When I was deciding to retire, and I told him I wanted to coach. He told me, ‘You can go look around and see if anyone else wants to sign you, but you will always have a home here.’ When I came back, he allowed me to develop as a young coach, a young scout, let me work in the weight room – all the stuff I wanted to do.  He gave me the ability to do that, and he looked after me the way a father would.

“The league might have taken longer to get where it is were it not for him. He had the vision and the forethought to put some things out there that other people hadn’t thought about, as far as handling revenue and how TV was being used to make the league bigger and better. I think that was really huge, really big for him to have that mind.

“I think he missed his calling – he should have been a comedian. He could tell a story, he could make light of different situations. We’d be busting a gut sometimes on some serious stuff, making some serious decisions, and be busting a gut because he had that natural gift of levity. I loved that about him and am definitely appreciative of all that he, Mrs. Modell and that family did for me.”

Former Ravens DT Tony Siragusa:

“Art was like a father to me and to all of his players. From the first time I met him, he always treated us players like his kids, but also treated us like men. When we won the Super Bowl, he was as big a part as anyone. We wanted to win it for him. Art was a man; you could talk to him about anything in life – not just football – and you would always come out wiser. Art is and always will be a family member to me.”

Former Ravens WR Qadry Ismail:

“When you look at the situation that players can be in, it’s such a cutthroat business, and there are a lot of tough decisions that have to be made. I am proud to say that I played for Art Modell. I am proud to say that I played for the Baltimore Ravens. I am proud to say that I am a part of this organization. I am proud to wear the championship ring that is on my figure, because Art Modell has set a high standard of quality, excellence, family and commitment to doing what is right. I will be forever grateful and indebted to the man that helped me in my career, as well as the impact he has made in my life as a man.

“Art has meant so much to not only the NFL community, but also the Ravens’ community and people of Baltimore and Maryland. I am thankful that I have been a part of that legacy. I am thankful that I have been able to be in a spot where it’s not about just playing a game, but it’s also about affecting other’s lives in a positive way. Art Modell, from the way he runs his organization to the way he carries himself as a man, has impacted me so much.

“I am so thankful that Art has been able to be a part of my life, especially at a time as a player when I was just starting my family. The one story that comes to my mind is when my son had a fall and broke his leg, and it required surgery. Art – he didn’t have to – but he made a phone call to the hospital about this. I remember sitting there stressed out, not sure whether my son was going to be able to be seen by a doctor. A person from the hospital came in and said, ‘You must know someone in high places. You are getting surgery pretty quickly.’ I was like, ‘Wow, OK!’ I came later to find out that it was Art who had made the call to have my family taken care of. He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to go out of his way.”

Former Ravens RB Jamal Lewis:

“Art meant so much to me because he gave me an opportunity when there were some people questioning me as a player and person. As an owner, he never missed a practice. Rain, sleet, snow, whatever, you always saw him on his cart. That set the tone for us as a team, especially during the Super Bowl run. He was at every practice, knew every player’s name and treated us like men. He ran a first-class organization, and what you see in the Ravens today was built on Art’s legacy. He was a great man, and as much as it saddens me that he is gone, I’m happy he is reunited with Pat.”

 “He was to be the one to comfort you.  He was the one to let you know he was happy to have you .”

Former Browns, Cowboys and Dolphins QB Bernie Kosar:

“I had a special relationship with Mr. Modell, and he’s probably angry that I’m not calling him Art. We were close when I played for him and became even closer through our adversities. He was such a caring person. The first thing he would ask is, ‘How are you doing? How are the kids?’ He told me that I was like a son to him, and that made me proud. A lot of Clevelanders wouldn’t believe this, but Art is one of the most loyal and trusting persons I’ve ever met. Maybe that led him to some decisions that not everyone liked. But, he was tough – always willing to take the brunt of things on his shoulders. He didn’t blame others. This is a sad day for me. I truly valued his friendship and will miss that.”

Ohio Native and Former Baltimore Colts LB Stan White:

“I feel like I’ve known Art Modell and his family my whole life, growing up around Cleveland and growing up watching the Cleveland Browns as a kid. Playing in the NFL, my association with Art grew as I became involved with the league through the Players Association. Then, I represented [former Browns DB] Frank Minnifield, one of his players, and got to know Art even better at that point. Of course, when he brought the team to Baltimore, I got to know him – I wouldn’t say intimately – but I got to know him fairly well.

“Art, to me, is just one of the great men of football, along with the Rooneys and the Maras. The men like that built this game for everybody that ever played, particularly the guys that are playing today. We all know his involvement in getting television involved with the NFL, with Monday Night Football. But more so, with the way he ran a football team, he treated his players as men and really cared about them. It’s a cruel business at times, but it’s always how you do things, and Art always did it with class and dignity, and you couldn’t say more about a person than you can say about Art.

“I coached his grandson at Gilman [School], and I got to know Art a little bit more through that. The whole Modell family has been such a gift to Baltimore, and Art Modell has been a gift to anybody who has ever been associated with football on any level – but particularly with the National Football League. Art Modell is a giant, and he will be missed.”

 Doug Dieken, the Longest-Tenured Player in Browns’ History:

“The thing that always stands out for me when I think of Art is his sense of humor. He liked to laugh. We’d be angry at each other while negotiating a contract, would have our battles, and he would still find a way to bring humor into it. Art was the last millionaire in what has become a billionaire business, and he tried to make it work. He treated players fairly, and you knew he was in your corner. He was what I would call a ‘players’ owner.’

“I think the players today making so much money should thank Art for his contributions to their pockets. His work with generating more money through TV is a big part of the paychecks today. He was a real competitor. It hurt him to lose, and he’d wear it on his sleeve, just like he would the wins. He did all he could to make us winners.

“I think what he did when he left Cleveland was not right, but there were others here who were wrong, too. It’s a shame that one decision hurt how some people think of him, because he did so much good. He gave people chances, and he helped a lot of people get a better life. He always looked out for the underdog and the underprivileged.”

Former Browns RB/RS Dino Hall:

“Art had a passion and a real love for the game of football. He was the true fan. I can remember him walking the sidelines at camps and at game time; he really was a true fan of football. For a long time, he meant a lot to Cleveland in a positive way, and he was a positive influence in that he loved Cleveland.”

Former Browns G Robert Jackson:

“From the time I was a rookie free agent with the Browns to today, Art made me feel like part of a family. That’s the way he treated his players. He was very fair, often tearing up contracts of players who were playing better and giving them new ones. My era of Browns, we respected him. In fact, a bunch of us got together in June and told stories about Art and those teams we played on. When I think of Art, I think of a good person who was fun to be around and knew how to have fun. And, I think of a person who cared a lot about people – how he could help them – and he did help so many.”

Former Browns RB Greg Pruitt:

“I have always thought so highly of Mr. Modell. And even after I got traded from the Browns to the Raiders, he made a point to apologize to me for the trade. It was something he didn’t want to do. He drafted me, and I became a Cleveland Brown. We had a lot of good times. He was always a great guy to me, and I was very close to Mrs. Modell. I was in love with his wife and his kids. On road trips, the kids would always come around me, and I would babysit. That was good; I liked it.”

Former Baltimore Colts RB Tom Matte:

“He was a special guy to me. I call him a very close friend. We came into the league together in 1961. What he’s done for football can’t be measured. This man deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Former Browns G John Wooten:

“First and foremost, our relationship goes back to the 1960’s when he first bought the Cleveland Browns. He was one of the great, great owners in the NFL. He was a man that sacrificed and did the things to make the NFL what it is today. He was an owner who excelled in dealing with players, working with the public and making sure that our game was growing. He sacrificed.

“He worked alongside Lamar Hunt, Tex Schramm, Well Mara and Art Rooney – and all of those men are in the Hall of Fame. He worked with them in all of those meetings. He was there. It is indeed a shame that he is not in the Hall of Fame.

“I can’t tell you how bad I want Art to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Former Ravens Linebacker, Jaimie Sharper:

“Art was a strong man and even though people would talk about things around him, and how he dealt with them, coming from Cleveland to Baltimore.  It shows his own unwillingness to give up.  He brought his proud ownership to Baltimore and laid the ground work for what the Ravens are.

“He was the bridge between Cleveland and Baltimore; he was the bridge between the Colts and the Ravens.”

Former Ravens Linebacker, Peter Boulware:

A very kind person, obviously I was thankful to have the opportunity to be drafted by the Ravens.  Ultimately, all decisions come through him.  I had a chance to sit down with him to talk about coming to a new city, coming to the NFL, being apart of the Baltimore Ravens and his expectations.  Again he was a great person.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to play for him and am so thankful for the opportunity he gave me to play for the Ravens.”

“He always instilled in us the importance of being thankful to people that supported us. Going out into the community, going to restaurants and getting involved in charity.  As football players,we are given so much, it was him and his lead; if you look at all the charity work he did in the community, it was his lead that guided us.”

 

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Former Ravens owner Art Modell passes away at 87

Posted on 06 September 2012 by 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.

 

 

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Report: Modell gravely ill in Baltimore hospital

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNST Staff

WKYC-TV (Cleveland) reporter Jim Donovan reported Wednesday night former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell had been hospitalized in Baltimore and his condition “was worsening.”

According to the report, Modell’s vital organs are “failing” and his sons John and David had gathered with him in the hospital.

Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996 and remained majority owner of the team until 2004 when purchase of the team was completed by current owner Steve Bisciotti.

Modell was majority owner of the Ravens in 2001 when they defeated the New York Giants 34-7 to win Super Bowl XXXV, the franchise’s only Super Bowl title and the first for the city since the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

Pat Modell, Art’s wife since 1969, died in October 2011 of pancreatitis.

WNST will have more on this story as it becomes available.

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March 29 a significant day in history of Baltimore football

Posted on 29 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Ask any Baltimore football fan over the age of 35 the significance of the morning of March 29, 1984 and you’ll see their expression change as a flood of memories rushes over their countenance.

Thursday marked the 28th anniversary of Robert Irsay and the Baltimore Colts sneaking out of town in the middle of the night, leaving countless grown men and women — like my father and grandparents — to only sob when learning the news that morning.


(Video package courtesy of WMAR-TV in Baltimore)

Many say they’re over the bitterness of the Colts’ departure while others will take that anger to their graves. And younger fans, such as those of my generation and younger, either aren’t that terribly interested or will never fully grasp the emotions of that night and morning and the days and years that followed.

All of those perspectives are perfectly acceptable as long as the feelings of each person invested in Baltimore football are respected.

It took time, but Baltimore wound up better in the long run as the city secured another team and won a championship before the Indianapolis Colts ever tasted Super Bowl glory. The Ravens have become ingrained in the community as much as a franchise can be in the modern and more lucrative era of professional sports.

What I didn’t realize, or perhaps had simply forgotten over the last 16 years, was March 29 also being a more positive day in the history of Baltimore football. Twelve years after those Mayflower trucks pulled out of Owings Mills, Art Modell announced his newly-relocated franchise would be renamed the Ravens — the Marauders and the Americans were the other two finalists — in the first tangible step of establishing a distinct identity for a new NFL team in Baltimore.

Modell

The team’s move from Cleveland had been announced several months earlier, but learning the result of a fan poll to name the franchise somehow granted more authenticity to the idea of NFL football once again being played at Memorial Stadium that fall.

A plethora of detailed accounts by more talented, authoritative writers can easily be found, so I don’t feel the need to rehash the circumstances or emotions surrounding each relocation at length.

But I do believe in the importance of remembering and respecting the city’s football heritage, recognizing where we once were and how those events impacted our lives as well as our loved ones, many of whom are no longer with us.

March 29 represents both the darkest day in the history of Baltimore football and part of a new beginning.

And it’s why I’ll remember and think about my father and grandparents a little more than usual on this day.

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Reliving Super Bowl XXXV glory means so much more to Baltimore

Posted on 23 October 2010 by Luke Jones

We’re always told not to live in the past in all walks of life, and the devotion to our sports teams is no exception.

It’s the same accusation we spew toward our adversaries in western Pennsylvania who constantly bring up their team’s six Super Bowl rings — particularly the four won in the 1970s — as a measure to claim their superiority over Baltimore and its fans. We should always be looking forward instead of celebrating past achievements in the rear-view mirror, right?

In contrast, Baltimoreans tend to romanticize the 2000 season in which the Ravens rose from relative anonymity in their fifth season to capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The feat emphatically recaptured Baltimore’s place in the National Football League after a 12-year absence had left the tradition-rich city without an identity — or professional football.

The lackluster offense and poor quarterback play that led to a five-game touchdown drought left those Ravens with a mortal 5-4 record before embarking on an 11-game winning streak to close the season as the top team in the NFL. It’s the ultimate case study that has provided hope in nearly every season since, as fans overlook the Ravens’ deficiencies — such as the current team’s lack of a pass rush and offensive struggles against the cover-2 defense — and point to the midseason struggles of the 2000 edition as reason for optimism.

Never mind that the 2000 team was perhaps the anomaly of all abnormalities in terms of NFL greatness, with a record-setting defense and an offense that simply succeeded in staying out of its own way. In many Baltimoreans’ minds, if lightning struck once, it can happen again, and the Ravens’ decade-long run of defensive dominance certainly contributes to that rationale.

But 10 years later, it’s clear to see how much that Super Bowl title really meant to the Charm City, in terms of short-term elation and the writs of passage it provided for generations of Baltimore football fans.

Entering the 2000 season, the Ravens had existed for four years but were more a civic novelty than an entrenched part of the local community. That’s not to say Baltimore hadn’t adopted the new football team immediately, but it was a new and different passion that had yet to be fully cultivated. Needless to say, the Ravens weren’t exactly a juggernaut in their early seasons and were just coming off their first non-losing season (8-8) under new coach Brian Billick in 1999.

Baltimore was still very much a baseball town as the Orioles were just finishing up their third straight losing season since playoff appearances in 1996 and 1997. The city had not experienced a major professional title — with apologies to the USFL’s Stars and the CFL’s Stallions — since 1983.

As we know, Baltimore’s feel-good story over the time period was the individual achievements of Cal Ripken, Jr., the local son and Hall of Fame shortstop who helped save baseball in 1995. It was a remarkable story in which the city took an immense pride, but it did not coincide with the championship success we all craved.

In retrospect, the timing of the Ravens’ championship march would prove perfect as the football team took its place as the toast of the town, with Ripken retiring less than nine months later and the Orioles slipping further into the abyss they’ve now painfully occupied for 13 years.

A new love affair was officially born on Jan. 28, 2001. (Video courtesy of the official site of the Baltimore Ravens)

The memorable plays and players have been immortalized through the magic of NFL Films and the current era of media in which we live, at times skewing our initial perspective because we’ve watched those moments again and again.

What we will never forget, however, is how that team and that championship made us feel — as a city and as individuals.

Watching Billick, owner Art Modell, quarterback Trent Dilfer, and Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis standing on that podium in Tampa to receive the trophy from NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue — a major antagonist in Baltimore’s struggle to regain a team — was the ultimate source of restitution. It was a scene older generations of Baltimore fans thought they would never again witness and younger generations never thought they would enjoy at all.

It was for our grandfathers and fathers — or even ourselves — who had wept in the early morning of March 29, 1984 as the Mayflower vans left Owings Mills on their trek to Indianapolis. That championship did not erase the intense pain of losing the Colts, but it signified that Baltimore would be more than alright in the years to come.

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Ten years later, the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV championship also reminds us of our own mortality. Two members of that team, fullback Chuck Evans and offensive lineman Orlando Bobo, are no longer with us. Linebacker and special teams standout O.J. Brigance now suffers from ALS, but still inspires the current Ravens and the entire community with his immense courage.

On a personal level, we reflect on those we’ve lost in the 10 years since that wonderful experience. More than the dominating defense or the bruising running style of Jamal Lewis, I remember the giant bear hug shared with my father during the final seconds of that game as two generations celebrated the accomplishments of the Ravens.

Our football team.

Sadly, Dad passed away less than four years later, but that moment is forever entrenched in my soul, as I’m sure similar moments are shared by others throughout the region.

Other than the heartwarming story of last year’s Super Bowl champion Saints and what it meant to the city of New Orleans after the devastating fallout from Hurricane Katrina, you’d have a difficult time arguing that a Super Bowl title ever meant more to a city than that championship meant to Baltimore 10 years ago.

It connected generations of old Colts loyalists to younger fans who relished the stories but were desperate to have their own legacy in Baltimore football history.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Super Bowl XXXV this weekend and welcome back that cast of characters that brought us so much joy, hopefully we cherish just how special that championship really was.

We’ll remember the upper deck shaking at then-PSINet Stadium as the Ravens completed an early-season 39-36 comeback victory over Jacksonville (a team they had never beaten in four years), an early precursor of glory to come later that season.

Flashing before our eyes will be the image of Jermaine Lewis running down the sideline — pointing to the heavens after losing his infant son Geronimo only weeks earlier — and removing any doubt that the New York Giants could stage a comeback.

Perhaps we’ll even remember the raindrops falling on our heads as more than 200,000 people flocked downtown for the victory parade just two days after the Super Bowl triumph.

Or maybe we’ll simply think of that long, euphoric hug like I will, perhaps shedding a few tears.

A decade later, it seems like only yesterday watching one of the greatest defenses in the history of the NFL do their thing.

But more than anything, we’ll never forget how that team made us feel.

To relive memories of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear interviews with countless members of the championship team including Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Jamal Lewis, Matt Stover, Rod Woodson, Jamie Sharper, and many others!

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (21-40)

Posted on 26 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Numbers 1 through 20 included greats such as Matt Stover and Ed Reed as well as lackluster selections such as David Tyree and Wally Richardson.

Part two (21-40) provides a few interesting debates with a few more selections of attrition.

21 Chris McAlister (1999-2008)

The paradoxical cornerback’s exit under the new regime of John Harbaugh was unfortunate, but there was no questioning McAlister’s talent when his mind was focused on football. The three-time Pro Bowl selection (2003-04, 2006) is the best cornerback in franchise history.

McAlister will eventually be a part of the Ring of Honor, where he will become the second honoree to wear No. 21, but the only deserving one. Earnest Byner had a good NFL career in Cleveland (with the exception of “The Fumble”) and Washington, but he being the first member of the Ravens Ring of Honor is solely a product of Art Modell’s affection for the running back.

22 Duane Starks (1998-2001)

McAlister’s counterpart receives the nod in a close race with cornerback Samari Rolle. Starks lacked consistency in his four-year career with the Ravens, but his play reached new heights during the team’s postseason run that ended with the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa. Starks intercepted two passes in the AFC Championship and returned a Kerry Collins attempt the other way 49 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl (check out the 0:46 mark below).

23 Willis McGahee (2007-present)

McGahee’s career in Baltimore has declined after a 1,200-yard season in 2007, but the veteran runner easily tops the list of players to wear the number, which includes Moe Williams, Jamaine Winborne, Earnest Hunter, and Dameon Hunter.

Though no longer a premier back, McGahee can take consolation in a certain moment in Oakland last season.

24 Domonique Foxworth (2009-present)

Despite playing only one season with the Ravens so far (and missing his second with a torn ACL), Foxworth’s performance in 2009 trumps the likes of Corey Fuller, Donny Brady, Alvin Porter, and 2006 third-round bust David Pittman.

25 Chris Carr (2009-present)

Despite a number of players wearing the number, Chris Carr wins out over inadequate cornerbacks such as DeRon Jenkins, Evan Oglesby, and Clarence Love.

26 Rod Woodson (1998-2001)
Woodson

The veteran transitioned from cornerback to safety and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl during his four-year stay in Baltimore. Dawan Landry deserves a mention and Priest Holmes wore the number his rookie season, but Woodson is the unanimous choice here.

27 Ray Rice (2008-present)

Safety Stevon Moore was one of the few competent members of the Baltimore defense in the early years, but Rice’s breakout 2009 campaign makes him a slam-dunk choice for No. 27. Entering his third season, Rice hopes he can make the number as synonymous with Ravens football as No. 52 and 75.

28 Gary Baxter (2001-04)

McAlister wore the number his rookie season and Tom Zbikowski is making a name for himself, but Baxter was a solid member of the Baltimore secondary before ditching the Ravens for Cleveland, where his career was essentially ruined by patella tendon tears in both knees in 2006.

29 Chester Taylor (2002-05)

Taylor was a dependable backup in 2004 and 2005 when Jamal Lewis’ body began breaking down. His performance eventually earned him a nice payday in Minnesota before the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson. Two players deserving posthumous recognition are safety Eric Turner and fullback Chuck Evans. Terry Allen also wore the number in the running back-starved season of 2001.

30 Obafemi Ayanbadejo (1999-2001)

With Eugene Daniel and Jamel White his only real competition, the man with probably the coolest name in the history of the franchise earns the honor despite spending the latter half of the Super Bowl season on Injured Reserve.

31 Jamal Lewis (2000-2006)

With a bruising style unlike any other, Lewis was an unstoppable force in 2003, rushing for 2,066 yards and a then-record 295 against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. In his prime, Lewis was the type of runner defensive players were afraid to tackle. He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.

32 Sam Gash (2000-02)

The veteran fullback led the way for Lewis in his rookie season and is the most deserving of a group of backs that includes Musa Smith and Errict Rhett. Gash was the epitome of an “old-school” fullback.

33 Le’Ron McClain (2007-present)

Some will argue Priest Holmes as a deserving choice for this number—the first back to have a 1,000-yard season in team history in 1998—but McClain’s two Pro Bowl selections and improbable 2008 season in which he rushed for 902 yards earn him the honor.

McClain

McClain’s running style reminds you a little bit of Bam Morris, another back to wear the number in 1996 and 1997. Unlike the troubled Morris, however, McClain has managed to keep his nose clean, literally and figuratively.

34 Ovie Mughelli (2003-06)

Though he was a late bloomer in Baltimore, Mughelli grabs the brass ring with his only real competition being Jay Graham and current return man Jalen Parmele. The latter still has an opportunity to stake a claim in the future, but Graham’s injury-riddled career fell off a cliff after rushing for an amazing 154 yards in his first career start in 1997.

35 Corey Ivy (2006-08, 2009)

Despite his small stature at 5-foot-9, Ivy was a steady nickelback with the ability to blitz effectively. His standout moment with the Ravens came during a dominant 27-0 win over the Steelers in 2006 in which the defensive back grabbed an interception, sacked Ben Roethlisberger, and forced a fumble. Ivy edges Robert Bailey, the nickel during the 2000 season, and fullback Carwell Gardner (1996).

36 Jim Leonhard (2008)

B.J. Sams was a good return specialist for four seasons with the Ravens, but Leonhard personified the Ravens’ underdog season in 2008 in which they advanced to the AFC Championship game with a rookie head coach and quarterback.

The undersized safety’s play was a major asset in place of the injured Dawan Landry and earned him a nice contract with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets the following season.

37 Bennie Thompson (1996-1999)

Deion Sanders earned the most attention with his two-year stint in Baltimore, but Thompson was a special teams standout during the infancy of the franchise. Thompson played the game with the crazed demeanor needed to launch oneself into the wedge of the opposition’s return team. Thompson earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 1998 for his special teams prowess.

38 James Trapp (1999-2002)

Despite being an ordained minister, Trapp is remembered most for being ejected from a game in 2002 after stomping on the head of Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, a move many in Baltimore didn’t mind a bit. Trapp was a quality backup in the Ravens secondary for four seasons and edged out the likes of Antonio Langham, Mike Anderson, and Raymond Walls.

39 Alan Ricard (2000-05)

After much painful debate, I decided against Daren Stone, the culprit of one of the dumbest penalties in franchise history, as the all-time No. 39.
stone

Ricard was the lead blocker and a Pro Bowl alternate in Jamal Lewis’ record-breaking 2003 season and was a great fullback for several seasons.

40 Cory Ross (2006-07)

Though he wore the number for just one season (switching to No. 34 in 2007), Ross filled in for injured return specialist B.J. Sams during the latter portion of the 2006 season, which was enough to earn the distinction for a very insignificant number in team history.

Cory Ross

The deceased Kenyon Cotton and current bubble defensive back K.J. Gerard are the only other competitors in an underwhelming group of No. 40s.

Next up: For numbers 41 though 60, we’ll find who grabbed the honors for No. 46 and 48 (Impressive if you have names off the top of your head), and I’ll end the suspense surrounding the pick for No. 52. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with Lay Rewis.

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BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  The band of the Baltimore Ravens performs before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: Sweet tune could return

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Chris Pika

A familiar tune, played with pride during some of Baltimore’s greatest football moments, and mournfully after one of the city’s darkest, could return to herald Ravens touchdowns in M&T Bank Stadium this season if fans have their way.

The Ravens through their website, are giving fans the chance to decide whether the current fight song, written in 1998, should remain, or if an alternate version rewriting the words of the old “Baltimore Colts Fight Song” to fit the current club should replace it — with the melody familiar to generations of Baltimore football fans.

According to Baltimore’s Marching Ravens band director John Ziemann, the fight song has been a part of Baltimore football history since it was written in 1947. “Six pro teams used it,” he said. “The 1947 (AAFC) Colts, the 1950 (NFL) Colts, the 1953-83 Colts, the USFL’s Baltimore Stars in 1985, the CFL’s Baltimore Stallions in 1994-95 and the Ravens in 1996.”

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  The band of the Baltimore Ravens performs before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

When the melody was played by the Colts Marching Band, it was as familiar to Colts fans as “Fly, Eagles, Fly” in Philadelphia, “Skol, Vikings” in Minnesota and even “Hail To The Redskins” in D.C. The tune was recognized among football fans nationwide as almost no NFL Films piece on the Colts was produced without the melody playing in the background.

When the Colts left in 1984, the band played on — as they did when the original NFL Colts left after the 1950 season — and the fight song was performed wherever they traveled to play, especially in NFL cities for pregame and halftime shows, carrying the torch of a love lost and hope of a new start.

That bond between the city and the melody became even stronger when the band played it in front of the Maryland State House in 1987 before a key vote on stadium complex funding. The emotional response of seeing the band carry the tune helped the measure to pass.

The NFL did return in 1996 when the Browns moved to Baltimore, and the club, out of respect for the previous history, did not adopt the song as the Ravens played at old Memorial Stadium — but the band played the tune during the ’96 season to celebrate Baltimore’s return to the NFL.

“In 1998, the Ravens decided they wanted their own identity, and a great fight song was writen by John Modell (son of Ravens’ owner Art Modell),” Ziemann said. The same year, the name of the band changed to Baltimore’s Marching Ravens as the team moved to the new downtown facility the band had helped secure in a small but meaningful way almost a decade earlier.

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 22:  A band member for the Baltimore Ravens plays the tuba before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Colts defeated the Ravens 17-15. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The organization did its best to ingrain the current fight song with the fans. But it never really seemed to fit in a city that reveres its history — especially when it comes to football. Over the years, fans contacted the Ravens about restoring the beloved melody.

The opinion of the organization changed when movie producer and Baltimore native Barry Levinson became part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series. Levinson chose to spotlight the band and its’ contribution to the city in great football times and especially in the years without the NFL. Just as Levinson had used the “Baltimore Colts Fight Song” to effect in his movie “Diner,” the ESPN movie, “The Band That Woudn’t Die,” gave new life to the melody in an unexpected way.

“The Ravens organization has always had a close ear to the needs and views of the fans,” Ziemann said. “And last year, when the premiere of the ESPN movie was shown at M&T Bank Stadium, the Marching Ravens did a pre-concert on the field. We played the ‘Baltimore Ravens Fight Song,’ and it got applause. But when the ‘Baltimore Colts Fight Song’ was performed, the place went wild. This started the Ravens rethinking about restoring the song.”

That was just the start. New words were needed to fit the melody, making the appropriate changes while keeping some of the historical aspect of the original. “New words were written by musical director Todd Clontz and myself, and focus groups were formed for opinions on it, taking all the necessary steps,” Ziemann said.

The “Baltimore Fight Song” was born, again. But the Ravens organization did not want to make the decision to restore the song on its own. It would be up to the fans to voice their opinions.

“The Ravens, to be fair to the fans, have put it up for a vote on their website,” said Ziemann. And if the song is restored, it will be performed August 12 at the first home preseason game (vs. Carolina).”

This potential switch in fight songs will not sell one more ticket or another piece of merchandise for the Ravens, but the change would return a sweet tune back where it belongs in celebration of a city and its football heritage.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle).

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Happy 91st Birthday to the “real” creator of WNST

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Pop:

Happy 91st birthday!!! I know you might be used to me doing the radio show dedicated to you every year here on March 5th but this year I’m “off” the radio (the listeners call it “retirement” and I call it “sabbatical”) so I’m just gonna write you this letter and hope it gets to you. And instead of taking calls all afternoon, I’m gonna take comments from folks on this space-aged thing called the internet. (I’ll explain it to you later but there’s a lot of stuff in the world here in 2010 you wouldn’t really understand without seeing it!)

A lot has changed since you left us back in July 1992 and I just thought I’d check in and update you a little with this letter – just kind of catch you up a little bit because every single day I think “What would Pop think of this crazy place now?”

And I know how much you love to read, so I thought I’d put it in writing for your birthday – how much different this place is in 2010!

Yes, I still write “for the paper” occasionally, but they just don’t call it a newspaper anymore. The words kinda live on a little television set and you don’t have to print them. You just “click” and you can get almost any information in the world. It’s kinda like the radio, TV and newspaper worlds have all gone into one place, if you can understand that. It’s called the “internet” – and really, I’d probably have a helluva time trying to make you understand it but I’m gonna try.

These days I’m so freaking busy building this sports media business I’ve created that I don’t even get to write about sports or talk about sports as much as I’d like but I’ll be doing more this baseball season for you and keep you in the loop on the Orioles and stuff. I’m also doing a book that I’m gonna send you a copy of later this year. It’s about coaching and leadership – I think you’ll dig it because it’s a lot of the stuff that you were always trying to teach me only put into words and kinda organized with words of wisdom from all of the coaches that I’ve met since 1984 who’ve taught me about life through sports.

Pop, a LOT of these people really helped make me the person I am since you’ve been gone. You remember Gene Ubriaco from the Skipjacks? Well he kinda gave me the idea since he was the first coach I talked to back in the day and he visited me recently and inspired me. I remember introducing him to you back at the Civic Center when I first covered the team for The News American.

Anyway, I remember that summer back in 1986 when we coached that Little League baseball team at Eastwood together. (One of those kids is now my Facebook friend, but I’ll save explaining that for next year’s letter, OK?)

I think a lot about you managing the 1973 Colgate Pirates, when I was the batboy, and we won the championship. I’m gonna write a little bit about it in the book. Gus Kaplanges still calls me and I ran into Teddy Boccia at Pizza John’s in Essex a few weeks ago. Tom Duni always sends along his best when I see him on the mornings when I take Mom to the IHOP over on Merritt Boulevard. It’s the “International House of Pancakes” – right in Dundalk. I know how much you love pancakes. They even have all of the fancy syrups!

So when I heard they just got email up there where you are I thought I’d send you a birthday card with some updates here from Planet Earth instead of doing the radio show. (Wait’ll you get a load of these “smart” phones when they get there with the “internet” on them. And wait’ll you see this thing called “texting”!)

Look, some of this stuff you’re not gonna understand. You’re just not, no matter what I do or how I try to explain it. Lemme just start with this – we have a black President of the United States, so you KNOW things are little different but the changes these last 18 or so years have been incredible – especially the last few years. You wouldn’t believe what’s happened in Baltimore with sports media and sports in general.

You were right about ESPN – they’re still around and they have a monopoly on virtually every sport and they have this 24-hour a day newspaper that people read all the time. You can even listen to the radio and watch videos on a screen without an antenna! (It’s all on that “internet” thing I told you about. And it’s all in the palm of your hand on this thing that’s like a phone. I’d try to compare it to a “cell” phone but even that would be hard.)

You know me, I still love hockey and the NHL is fun. The Capitals are really good and I think you’d even get on this bandwagon, even though you always hated hockey and Washington, D.C. The Caps have this Russian kid named Ovechkin – he’s like Gretzky, only bigger and meaner. It’s a fun time and the Caps SUCKED big time for a long time, kinda like they did when back when I started dragging you down there to the Capital Centre in 1981. I’m really sorry you never liked hockey, but I really do appreciate you taking me down to those Clippers games back in the day! You have no idea how great those memories are for me and how much hockey still means to me!

The Terps are having a great year – they even won a BIG one against Duke the other night and they play in this shiny new building and Gary Williams is STILL the coach! They finally won the National Championship back in 2002 and it was a lot of fun. I know how much you loved March Madness around the house and it’s still pretty much the same although they wear these long pants these days. And people don’t play bracket pools on paper – they do it on this “internet” thing!

The NBA kinda sucks these days and nobody watches. I know you saw Abe Pollin up there a few weeks ago. I hope you guys made up – he really did do some good things, though that would be hard for me to explain to you. The new guy here who owns the old Bullets (they call them the “Wizards” now — again, don’t ask…really some of this s&%t is too crazy to even try to explain!) is a guy named Ted Leonsis. Good dude and now he owns the Caps. I know him a little through the radio show. They moved outta the Capital Centre into downtown D.C. back in 1998 and they play in this place that kinda looks like a mall with windows. It’s wild, man, the way the stadiums and the arenas have changed. It’s all about business now with sports – lots of money, but still a lot of fun most of the time. And people love it more than ever!

But there’s even these new sports like this “mixed martial arts” — where guys literally beat the s&*t outta each other like something in one of those weekend Roman gladiator movies on Channel 45. It’s crazy. It’s like boxing, kinda, without gloves. It’s kinda like WWF only it’s REAL. Swear to God! But people love it!

Oh, about “rassling,” one of your favorites. It’s now called World Wrestling “ENTERTAINMENT” these days. Vince McMahon is still running it and making money but they’ve admitted what you said along: “It’s fake.” But nobody seems to mind and they still sell a lot of tickets.

Stock car racing (they just call it NASCAR these days) is this HUGE thing – these fancy cars, crowds of over 100,000 and big TV ratings. They moved the Olympics into every two years – summer and winter alternate – and they have these skateboard kids who surf on the snow getting medals. It’s exciting – you might even like it!

The Preakness is a mess. They took the beer away last year and now nobody goes but no one here seems to care too much about horse racing. Kinda sad. I know you never liked it too much but it’s tough to see it die like this, especially in May when Baltimore used to rock for the Preakness. They’re doing this new thing this year – “Get Your Preak On” – we’ll see how it goes.

I know I haven’t mentioned the Orioles because, well, you really don’t want to know. I know when you left us back in July of ’92 you were sorta losing it a little for life and sports and I know you thought Camden Yards looked nice on TV. Sorry I never took you down there before you left but honestly you haven’t really missed much down there, Pop.

This guy from Highlandtown named Peter Angelos bought the team about a year after you left us. Hotshot lawyer, got involved with some union guys who died from asbestos and made a zillion dollars, bought the team in 1994 and, well, they’ve turned into the worst franchise in sports.

They lose every year. They lie every year. They’re really rather disgraceful! And nobody goes to the games anymore. Mom still watches – we all kinda do – but no one goes to the games and the owner is the biggest heel since Bob Irsay.

Pop, some people hate him even MORE than Irsay and I’m not kidding!

I know it sounds crazy, but he’s kinda at war with me personally because I have had the balls and the voice to do what you’d have done if you were me – I tell the truth about the losing and the sad state of the city on summer night. But you’d dig it that some of the old Orioles from when we were taking the No. 22 outta Highlandtown are still around and are really cool to me. Those old Orioles come up to me and tell me to continue to fight with him but, really, Pop, it’s not the same and I’m tired of fighting with these lunatics.

I don’t even wanna bore you with it. (I’d tell you to “Google it” but you’d have no idea what the hell that means but I think you’d really think it’s cool. Imagine one of those World Book encyclopedias you bought me combined with every library in the world and all available in one place and you’ll begin to grasp it. Yeah, I know, you’re a little confused…so is Mom, don’t worry.)

But more than ANYONE, you’d be the proudest of how I’ve stood up and fought for what’s right. I take a lot of heat. People write me hate mail, threaten my life on occasion – but I know I’m right. This Angelos guy can’t even get along with Brooks Robinson, who’s still alive and has battled some illnesses recently.

This spring, I’m going to get behind a big civic movement to get a statue built for No. 5. I’ve sorta gotten to know Brooks since you left us and he’s just as great of a guy as you always thought he was and he deserves it. So I’m gonna help these guys who want to do this and I want to do it in your honor, if you’ll let me. I always tell Brooks about how you took me to “Thanks, Brooks Day” way back in 1977 and how we spent the day together out in left field like we always did in those days on 33rd Street.

By the way – I’ve got some more bad news. They tore down Memorial Stadium about 10 years ago. It really PISSED me off. I drive by there, think of you and get all pissed off again. I can’t even turn the corner up by Lake Montebello without getting depressed. The old site was turned into a YMCA. You’d hate it — trust me! Some days, I think you’re better off where you are and I can’t wait to join you!

I’m writing you this letter from a plane tonight and I’m going to spring training – but it’s not Florida, it’s Arizona. I’m doing some research work on this book on coaching and leadership. I’m going to be interviewing over 100 coaches with Baltimore ties and writing about their feelings on life, leadership and sports. I’m in Arizona and because the Orioles don’t let me come to their spring training games (or any games, really) because I did this protest of their ownership back in 2006. I had a press pass for all those years after you left but they took my pass away for telling the truth. I know, it’s kinda what you’d expect in Cuba or Russia, but that’s the way it is these days in America when you tell the truth – people hate you, abuse you and fail to be accountable. Especially when they’re rich and they threaten people with lawsuits every day. It’s a sick world. The more I know, the less I want to know about a lot of this stuff.

But that’s OK. I’m happy standing for what’s right and not falling for anything. Like I said, I know you’d be proud of me!

So anyway, I’m on this flight to Phoenix and I’m writing to you (we do it on these fancy computers that are kinda like typewriters that sit on your lap) and there’s a guy from the Ravens sitting behind me. His name is Justin Green – he’s a running back who used to play on the NFL team we have now in Baltimore.

I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you about the Ravens. But I wanted to save the good news for the end!

The Ravens are our new NFL team!

I know, I know. You said we’d NEVER get another NFL team but we did. It was something like a miracle, Pop, this team that Art Modell brought to Baltimore from Cleveland back in 1996. No, the Browns colors and logos stayed in Cleveland where they replaced the team but those people are STILL pissed, kinda like you were with Irsay until you left us.

(I’m assuming if you’ve ever run into Irsay up there you’re in the WRONG place…so I’ll just tell you that he died a few years ago!)

But Modell was great for Baltimore! He even hired Ted Marchibroda to be the first coach! It’s been a LOT of fun since this football team came to town.

We have a young local owner named Steve Bisciotti, who does his best to not be the jerk that Angelos is and Irsay was. He’s interested in winning and making the team fun every year and Baltimore appreciates that!

The Ravens have the best defensive player I’ve ever seen – a guy like Butkus and Curtis and Singletary but only better! His name is Ray Lewis and he’s fun to watch. He was a rookie on the first team back in 1996 and he’s still playing but the Ravens have really had a lot of good players and they win most years and the games are fun and it kinda reminds everyone here of those fun days you had with the Colts back in the ’50s and ’60s with Mom and Johnny Unitas. (I hope you said hi to No. 19 when he dropped by a few years ago. He stood on the sidelines here for the Ravens on game days and people thought it was cool! I talked to him a few days before he came to be with you…)

I miss you the most on those Ravens game days in the fall because you’d LOVE this football team. They wear purple, your favorite color. The band still plays, they’re just called “The Ravens Marching Band.” People come to the games really early and have picnics and drink beer. They call it “tailgating” because they sit on the trunk of the car and dine on swine and wait for the game and play catch. We’ve got this new stadium down where the railroad tracks used to be on the other side of the harbor, right next to the baseball stadium. It’s wild driving into downtown now and seeing those giant stadiums and all of the purple.

But I really miss you on those days when the team plays. I think of you every Sunday. I really do!

Because of what I do for work, I even get to go to all of the road games and sometimes we even take people who listen to the radio station and read my columns (we call ‘em “blogs” now) on the internet with us and it makes it more fun. Beer drinking, good food, football cheers – Pop, you’d LOVE it!

So, even though I did the radio show for a long time, I’m still here doing my media thing on this “internet” contraption and some of the people haven’t really changed. You remember Tom Davis and Scott Garceau – they work for my competitor. Stan The Fan still does this magazine every month. And Phil Jackman is still my friend and he’s gotten even older and even crankier. It’s fun to watch!

But I turned the old radio station into this 24-hour-a-day “internet” sports place with radio, television and news all in one place. We even have all of the box scores and standings for you! I wish you could see it!!! It’s like the Sporting News back in the day only even more in depth. You’d be really proud, Pop!

I have these awesome business partners – led by a guy named Brian Billick. He was the Ravens coach back when they won the Super Bowl in 2001. (I’ll tell you more about that later!)

Billick is sorta like Earl Weaver was to the Orioles – only taller, but he does cuss just as much! I’d pay a lot of money to see you and Billick have a conversation about sports. You’d make him laugh for sure!

Billick is just a fabulous guy and I really wish you two would’ve gotten a chance to meet. He joined me about 18 months ago as a business partner but all of the money we ever make on his behalf goes directly back to the community through this charity called “Living Classrooms” which helps the kids in the city who are trying to stay out of trouble, learn and get jobs. One day, we’ll make a lot of money for the people of Baltimore together! You always taught me to give something back and that’s what I’m trying to do because people have really been great to me as I’ve gotten older and you’ve left us.

I just wish you could see it – even for one day, what my life has been like! The travel. The roadtrips. The time I’ve spent in Europe, South America and Asia. I went to China with Cal Ripken Jr., who just like you told me, wound up in the Hall of Fame. We even went to Cooperstown for the induction!

But I’ve done World Cups, a bunch of World Series, All Star Games, Stanley Cups, Final Fours, Kentucky Derbies, Super Bowls — you name it! I’ve really had a great life – a great time since you left me!

Oh – that’s right – I almost forgot. The Super Bowl!

Yep, Baltimore WON the Super Bowl back in 2001. I sorta forgot that you didn’t know that…

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom happier than she was when the Ravens beat the Giants that night. I was at the game that night in Tampa under the stars but she called me, bawling like a baby – she really loves the Ravens, Pop. I wish you could be there to watch those games with her on Sunday.

I took her to a game back in August to see the guys in purple play. I’m not sure if you get You Tube up where you are, but if you do here’s what it looked like:

She calls me every weekend and a lot of times I’m there at the games in all these far-flung places like Minnesota or Green Bay or New England and she wants updates. We have this tall quarterback named Joe Flacco who is her favorite. He wears No. 5 – just like Brooksie!

But sports and radio and Baltimore have been good to me all these years. All those things you taught me – fairness, integrity, working hard, practicing hard, being a good teammate, running out every groundball, looking for the cutoff man, playing by the rules – that’s all really helped me in the business world. Some days I feel like a success, some days I feel like the world’s biggest failure but I never give up. I never, ever give up!

And I always try to do the right thing…

And even though things are kinda crappy – the economy is worse than it was back in 1979, when you came home every day scared to death that you were gonna lose your job at ‘The Point – I’m in a good spot. I have a really good product and it’s growing every day but it’s hard work. Nothing I’m allergic to though. (Don’t worry…I never take a “scratch” either!)

But there’s lots of stuff you’d really like about the world in 2010 and stuff that reminds me of you every day.

They have Chick-Fil-A’s now where you don’t have to go into the mall. These computers have kinda taken over the world and you wouldn’t have to wait for The Sporting News or the Baseball Digest anymore. Heck, you wouldn’t even be pissed every morning at 5 a.m. because The Sun came late and you didn’t get to read it before work. You can read it ANYTIME on this device! Sounds kinda like a “dream,” doesn’t it?

You could even take your phone into the bathroom and READ on it while seated instead of taking the newspaper up there when you stink up the joint!

Ha!!! (Made you laugh!!!)

But we’re cool down here. Mom is fine, still feisty and nagging the hell outta me the way I like it. Barry is 25 now and helps me at WNST and is good guy. You two would be hell together watching Orioles games in high definition TV. (They call it HD – it’s kinda like 3D, just a little different. It’s just a really, really clear TV – everybody has them now and it’s kinda neat, makes you feel like you’re right on the field!)

I have an awesome wife that I met at a hockey game who likes sports even more than I do — most days anyway. She’s a Red Sox fan and she gets to have all of the fun in baseball season because the Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. They stink every stinking year! It’s awful, really…but like I told you, google it!

Maybe I really just wish you were here from August through January every year — but you’re really not missing much from April through the summer…

So, I just wanted to say hi and share this letter. I’m gonna share it with the people who read my “internet column” and hope that they write me some neat stories about their lives and memories and emotions with their Pop. You wouldn’t believe what a big “celeb” I turn you into every March 5th!

People write me every year and ask me about my “radio show for my Pop.” Well, this year for your 91st birthday, I thought I’d do something extra special and write you a letter instead. Maybe this will be the new format every year, who knows?

But I hope you’re resting comfortably and that someone is watching over me down here.

Life is good. Times are tough. The world is changing. Sports is in a weird place in Baltimore but I have a good feeling about things and I’m even optimistic that one day the Orioles will be good and kind and honorable again and the games will be fun for me.

Give Steady my best if you see him. Tell all of my friends like Clem Florio and the other fellas that “Nasty loves ‘em and misses ‘em!” (OH…I almost forgot! I really hope you got to say hello to Ted Williams a few years ago. I know how much you loved him!)

In the meantime, I’m sure the Ravens will give me plenty to write you about and the business stuff and building this company has been a lot of fun and keeps me plenty busy.

And if you ever bump into Howard Cosell, you should apologize, Pop! You were really wrong about him! He really DID know what the hell he was talking about!

Have a great birthday, Mr. Pisces! I’ll have some strawberry shortcake out in Phoenix in your honor!

Strangely enough, I’m having breakfast with Frank Kush today at his office at Arizona State and lunch with a bunch of the San Diego Padres front office folks. (Aunt Jane would really dig it!)

I have a feeling your name will come up!

Happy Birthday, you old fart!

Ninety one would’ve been fun but, hopefully, you’re getting satellite up there so you can watch the Terps game this weekend.

And if the MASN feed doesn’t come in, don’t feel so bad. You’re better off with the VHS tapes you left with from 1983…

Love,

Me

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Steve Bisciotti Speaks & I Was Listening .....

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Steve Bisciotti Speaks & I Was Listening …..

Posted on 04 February 2010 by Rex Snider

Yesterday, the call finally came to the WNST bullpen.

After warming up longer than Mike Mussina, during the 1993 All Star Game, my name was called ….

I was headed to THE SHOW – at 1 Winning Drive, to cover the Baltimore Ravens’ season ending press conference. Indeed, with Glenn Clark, Drew Forrester and Nestor Aparicio in Miami, a substitute “insider” was needed.

I arrived at the complex with nearly an hour to spare and decided to absorb the surroundings. It’s a very impressive place – a warm and welcoming environment, but very professionally spirited, as well. I was quite impressed.

As the press conference kicked off, I decided to keep my mouth shut, while absorbing anything and everything said. For the most part, it was exactly what I expected. I don’t think anyone really learned anything NEW during the 50 minute session.

It felt like a regurgitation of pre-planned dialogue. In fact, if I would use one word to explain the nature of what came from the mouths of Steve Bisciotti (*during the scripted portion), Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, it would be “SAFE” …..
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ON ADDRESSING “NEEDS” DURING THE DRAFT …..
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Ozzie Newsome : “We will not put need ahead of best player available.”
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ON THE LIKELIHOOD OF ED REED RETURNING NEXT YEAR …..
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John Harbaugh – “I believe Ed will play next year ….” “…. there is no better leader, player or guy on the football field, than Ed Reed.”
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ON THE $66 MILLION SPENT ON TERRELL SUGGS …..
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Steve Bisciotti – “…. showed up out of shape” “still a dominant player, he will be fine.”
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ON TROY SMITH’S TRADE REQUEST …..
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Ozzie Newsome – “I know Troy’s agent and he hasn’t contacted me.”
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However, after the “public” portion of the event, many media members milled around and talked a little further with Steve and John. Ozzie was gone quicker than Usain Bolt – on his fastest day. I’ve always heard he doesn’t like speaking to the media. I have absolutely no problem believing that rumor.

During this informal session of what felt like shooting the breeze, the Ravens owner certainly seemed more relaxed and revealing of his true feelings regarding an array of topics …..
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On Rex Ryan’s Recent Flashing Of The BIRD …… (specifically, he was asked if he “imagined” it would happen to Rex …..)
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Steve smiled broadly, hesitated for a second and said “maybe.” But, he was also quick to say “John’s the same way” ….. while gesturing to Harbaugh. He did playfully confirm that he would not be paying Rex’s fine.

I’ve interviewed enough people who have something to hide – from kids who’ve stolen Playboy magazines, to guys who smuggle hundreds of pounds of marijuana – and I’m rather certain Steve took the high road on this issue. If you’ve heard Drew speculate on the entire “Rex vs. John” comparison, I’m convinced he’s dead right. And, Steve wasn’t going to provide any fuel to the situation.

On His Feelings Regarding Major League Baseball’s Union and Labor Deal …..
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Steve said, “the genie is out of the bottle” – while alluding to a situation that cannot be reversed. I’m not certain this is such a good thing – but, when Steve was making some baseball-related comparisions, he suggested the Ravens need to be more like the “Oakland A’s.” Great …..

On His Feelings Regarding Art Modell And The Hall Of Fame …..
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Steve called Art “one of the 5 greatest owners in the history of the NFL.” On Cleveland’s stance on Art, he said “Baltimore feels the same way about Robert Irsay ….. if Baltimore builds Irsay a stadium, the Colts are still here and I’m not.”

He further suggested that Art’s albatross – the move from Cleveland really amounts to an off-field situation. Then, Steve made the comparison to other Hall of Famers, saying “writers overlook what Lawrence Taylor did off the field.” And, he cited Al Davis moving his team TWICE, yet, being a Hall Of Famer. On the comparision, he finished up by saying, “T.O. will get in.”

Most importantly, Steve made a plea for VOTER ACCOUNTABILITY among those who cast ballots for Hall Of Fame induction.

I found him to be very earnest and thorough on his feelings. Selfishly, I wish he spoke more often !!!!

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