When Art Modell passed away at the age of 87 on Sept. 6, 2012, a storybook series of events were set in motion that honored the late owner in the best way anyone could have imagined.
Modell was an NFL visionary, directly responsible for advances that helped shape the game as fans know it today. From the first TV deals, to* *expanding football to new cities, to Monday Night Football, Modell's fingerprints are present throughout NFL history books.
But to Ravens fans, his most endearing achievement was bringing the game to Baltimore.
Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996, and after four seasons, found himself a Super Bowl champion. However, Modell's legacy was cemented not by wins, but with the relationships he forged with the people in the organization around him.
"Art was more than a great owner; he was a great man," Hall Of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "He will always have a very special place in my heart."
Those bonds were never more apparent than in Modell's final hours, surrounded by Head Coach John Harbaugh, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed prior to the team's Week 1 opener of the 2012 season.
"I told him that we're playing Monday night and that he was going to be there watching the game, and we're going to fight for him," Harbaugh said at the time. "And that we're going to play our best football for Art Modell … Those eyes, those blue eyes were going right at me like, 'You better, that's what I expect.'"
Following his passing, the Ravens paid tribute with a black "ART" patch worn in every game, and the motivation to win for their beloved owner.
"This season we will definitely dedicate to him, and give it everything we got," Lewis said that year. "Hopefully we can sit another Lombardi Trophy beside him."
The Ravens would go on to finish on top of the league for the second time in the franchise's history, beating the San Francisco 49ers,*34-31, *in Super Bowl XLVII.
Lewis' quote had unknowingly echoed the fairy-tale ending that paid tribute to Modell in the best way possible: with another Super Bowl victory.