Modell And The Ref

Former Ravens Owner Art Modell played a critical role in shaping what we now know as the National Football League, and he told an anecdote to media Friday afternoon that illustrates his influence.

In the early 1980s, Modell's Cleveland Browns were getting beat handily by the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium, as was generally the case at that time.

During that game, Browns cornerback Ron Bolton was ejected after getting into a scuffle with Pittsburgh wideout Lynn Swann. Modell was so enraged, he called current Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne from the owners box, demanding to go down to the officials' locker room.

"I called Kevin and said, 'Get your [butt] over here right now. Hurry,'" Modell recalled. "He was running around to my box. I said, 'I want you to take me down to the officials' dressing room.' He said, 'You can't go down there. It's against the rules.'

"I said, 'Forget the rules. I wrote the damn rules!'"

Modell knocked on the door and demanded to speak to Ben Dreith, the head official at the time.

"[Dreith] said, 'Art, this is Ben, you can't come in here, it's an automatic $10,000 fine for coming into an officials' dressing room,'" Modell explained.

Modell then asked if Dreith would come out for $5,000.

The next week, then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle fined Modell $5,000.

Obviously, people listened to Modell then. The media enjoyed listening to him on Friday.

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