It takes Art Modell a little longer to blow out his birthday candles these days. But it's clear his will is as strong as ever.
Faced with a pesky candle that just wouldn't go out, the soon-to-be 85-year old minority owner hunkered down in his wheelchair, furrowed his brow and blew it out Thursday. He laughed and cracked a joke about being snuck a trick candle.
Modell, whose actual birthday is Wednesday, isn't around the Owings Mills facility as often as he used to be, but he still enjoys coming back for moments like these to witness his legacy being carried on.
"This franchise is in great shape," Modell said. "It's got super ownership now in Steve Bisciotti, who's a very dedicated man. It's a great organization with people that have been with me for years."
Asked what still most impresses him about the franchise he brought to Baltimore in 1996, Modell said the culture.
"It's a good culture with a lot of good people," he said. "There are people in this room that have been with me for 43, 44 years. You can't buy that culture."
Modell still attends the Ravens' home games. He would like to go on the road, but his doctors have advised against it so those days are over.
But the man who broke the realignment deadlock of 1970 to create the AFC and was a key negotiator with ABC to create Monday Night Football, the legend who many believe should be in the NFL Hall of Fame, keeps looking forward.
"I'll go pass over the horizon and start worrying about the 90th birthday," Modell said with a chuckle. "It won't take long to shape those plans up."