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Arthur Modell

Biography

Art Modell – much like Steve Bisciotti – embodies the spirit of a true American success story. Both men have been described as bold, competitive, compassionate and highly-approachable entrepreneurs – generally, a rare combination of qualities for men who have risen to their level of accomplishment.

In April of 2004, Art finalized the sale of the World Champion Baltimore Ravens to Bisciotti. Also in 2004, Art was a semifinalist for that year’s Hall of Fame class. He was one of 15 finalists for the Canton NFL Hall of Fame in 2001 and a semifinalist for the classes of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns for what was an unprecedented price of $4 million in 1961, and three decades later, in February of 1996, he brought an NFL franchise back to Baltimore. For Art and his club, the move was not an easy one to make – and it was not easy for the team’s fans to see their team go. Knowing this, Modell did not hesitate to leave the fans...

Art Modell – much like Steve Bisciotti – embodies the spirit of a true American success story. Both men have been described as bold, competitive, compassionate and highly-approachable entrepreneurs – generally, a rare combination of qualities for men who have risen to their level of accomplishment.

In April of 2004, Art finalized the sale of the World Champion Baltimore Ravens to Bisciotti. Also in 2004, Art was a semifinalist for that year’s Hall of Fame class. He was one of 15 finalists for the Canton NFL Hall of Fame in 2001 and a semifinalist for the classes of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns for what was an unprecedented price of $4 million in 1961, and three decades later, in February of 1996, he brought an NFL franchise back to Baltimore. For Art and his club, the move was not an easy one to make – and it was not easy for the team’s fans to see their team go. Knowing this, Modell did not hesitate to leave the fans of Cleveland a legacy. He announced that he would give the name “Browns” to Cleveland for a future team. He also left the team’s colors (orange and brown) and the rich and storied 49-year history (1946-1995).

In his 43 seasons of full ownership of the Browns and the Ravens, more than half of Art’s teams were in the playoffs. Modell won two NFL championships, 1964: 27-0 (over the Colts); and in 2000, 34-7 (vs. the NY Giants). Three other teams (1965, 1968 and 1969) played in NFL title games, and three more teams (1986, 1987 and 1989) lost memorable AFC Championship battles – all against John Elway and the Denver Broncos. Ten other teams earned playoff berths, while six more entered the season’s final week with a chance to make the postseason.

Modell was the only elected NFL president in league history, serving a term from 1967-69. He chaired the negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968, leading a committee that included Vince Lombardi and Jim Finks, both NFL Hall of Famers. Modell may be most noted for his tenure as the NFL’s broadcast chairman. The contracts he negotiated over a 31-year period (1962-93) set the standard for sports television.

Art’s key career highlights include:

• Chairman of the Owners Labor Committee (1968), which successfully negotiated the NFL’s first players’ collective bargaining agreement. 

• Served on the NFL-AFL Merger Committee, breaking the impasse for realignment of the two leagues by moving the Browns to the AFC.

• Worked closely with then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle to establish NFL Films and became its first chairman.

• In 1970, Art was an important negotiator with ABC to launch Monday Night Football and volunteered to host the first game in Cleveland. (The Browns won, 31-21, over the NY Jets.)

Personal: In 1943, Modell joined the Air Force…Attended New Ultrecht (Brooklyn, NY) HS…His wife of 42 years, Patricia, passed away in 2011...He is the father of John and David and has six grandchildren…Modell has been active in the Baltimore community since he brought the franchise to Maryland...Over the years, Art has donated millions of dollars to a variety of charities, most notably, The SEED School of Maryland, a boarding school in Baltimore for disadvantaged youth, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Kennedy Krieger Institute, St. Vincent’s Center, a home for abused children, and the House Of Ruth…One of the largest donations to a Baltimore cultural institution, the Modells recently gave $3.5 million to The Lyric, which was re-named The Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric...Modell has received numerous awards and honors, including the Generous Heart Award from the Dr. Ben Carson Scholarship Foundation, given annually for excellence in the community.

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