I’ve been reading a lot about the life and times of Art Modell over the last 24 hours. Obviously, my heart has been heavy with the loss of his charm, humor and kindness not only for my selfish emotions but for everyone who ever loved Mr. Modell. I’ll never forget seeing the raw emotions of Ray Lewis, Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Byrne and John Harbaugh yesterday in Owings Mills.
Today and all weekend at WNST.net & AM 1570 we will be presenting what I feel is the finest radio interview of my career – a long-winded, emotional, retrospective of the life and times of Arthur B. Modell, told in his own words.
In 2004, just after I retired from hosting a daily show after 13 years of grinding out quality sports talk radio, I decided to do a series of “sit downs” – I called them “Barbara Walters-style interviews” – with many Baltimore sports legends. Art Donovan, Cal Ripken, Phil Savage, Brian Billick, Marvin Lewis, Pam Shriver, Lenny Moore, Bob Ehrlich and several others were kind enough to participate in a series of monthly chats I did to shed light on their careers and how they came to enter their chosen field of work.
Every conversation was personal and memorable but nothing like my time with Art Modell.
I joined Art Modell at his office at M&T Bank Stadium in the spring of 2004 and wound up taking the better part of two mornings to get all of the questions answered.
I haven’t even listened to these yet myself to know exactly all of the ground we covered. I do remember him saying at the end, “You have enough there for a book. No one has ever asked me that many questions before!”
I remember him being emotional several times when I asked about his father. I remember him being a little upset at some of the line of questioning. I remember him being incredibly thoughtful and patient as I probed some memories that he was mostly uncomfortable sharing with me.
But I think we both brought our “A games” with us those two days as we chatted about his entire life and the many people who affected him and shaped his world. How he met soap opera actress Patricia Breslin and married her and adopted her two young sons, David and John. Tales of Jim Brown, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis, Lou Groza, Cleveland, the Browns, Bernie Kosar, Bill Belichick, Pete Rozelle – there’s a lot of meat in this conversation.
This will take some time – there’s about 3 hours worth of chatter here, most of it dominated by Art telling the best stories of his life.
The last question I asked him was stolen from Jim Lipton (and Bernard Pivot):
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Art Modell deadpanned: “First and long…”
There’s a lot of humor in this conversation as well because that was Art’s Way.
We’ll be playing this interview all weekend on WNST-AM 1570. You can listen in your car or you can click below to take with you wherever you go.
I hope you enjoy the chat. And, quite frankly, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being.
Here are the links via WNST.net and our Buy A Toyota audio vault: