Good bye, you piece of shit Art Modell. It’s never a happy day when someone dies, but…oh, wait, yes it is a happy day. We lost a disgusting visage of hypocrisy and greed today, and for that, we should all celebrate. This is a man who through his own bumbling idiocy somehow claimed financial troubles for his reason to move the Cleveland Browns despite not just getting income from the Browns, but from the Indians, Cleveland taxpayers and all the other NFL teams as well. This was a man who’s finger was always on the button, yet didn’t know what the button did and pushed it anyways. When we, humanity, loses an asshole on a level like Modell’s, it’s always cause for celebration.
Did he do some philanthropic things? Sure. Good for him. Is that indicative of his character? A character that, to some, was a generous, congenial, charismatic self-made man. I cannot hate on Art Modell’s charitable work nor his business vision, which, despite being able to position himself to take advantage of newly developing mediums like television, sporting goods and professional sports, didn’t have the accumen to understand how to actually run the damn things, and instead revealed a character of bumbling idiocy and greed.
Unless you’re a Ravens fan, it’s almost impossible to think otherwise. Modell was a man who not only ruined one franchise, the Browns, but also the Indians thanks to his lucrative albeit unethical management of the Stadium Corp. where he refused to share rental income from loges with the MLB team or improve their facilities in the stadium. So when the Indians finally grew frustrated of not being given their shares of income from their landlord, to the point they asked for their own stadium, what did the landlord do? Throw a hissy fit.
Modell, salty that his rental income streams that he refused to share were drying up, demanded taxpayer assistance for renovations to Cleveland Municipal Stadium…which he received. Then he decides to go into negotiations with the Maryland Sports Authority to move the team, while SIMULTANEOUSLY DEMANDING a new taxpayer funded stadium funded by a sin tax, a referendum which easily passed. Yet, despite the public’s loyalty and willing assistance, Modell wrote a letter to the governor saying it still wasn’t enough and moved the team.
So he had Cleveland’s full support, yet instead colludes with a city that went through the same thing (Baltimore fans are the world’s biggest hypocrites) and with a former business crony (Al Lerner) to move the team…and then colludes again with Lerner to position him to become the owner of the new Browns expansion team. Which would be great and all if not for the fact that Lerner and his idiot son had all of Modell’s business Down’s Syndrome without any of the roadrunner karma. The loyal dogs that are Browns fans keep getting kicked by owners that make Mick Vick look like Sarah McLaughlin.
Perhaps you think I’m overreacting and being an asshole…whatever, I don’t really care. I went to the final Browns game at Municipal Stadium with my uncle and grandfather, who was a season ticket holder since the 19-fucking-50’s for all the sellouts that supposedly wasn’t enough income for good ol’ Art. I saw the tears in his eyes as the seconds ticked down in the fourth quarter, but didn’t understand why since I couldn’t fully grasp the situation. My grandfather, like Modell, was a veteran of WWII who started his own business, who had been unbreakingly loyal for four decades, like thousands of Browns fans…only to have that loyalty repaid by being lied to and punched in the gut.
As far as I’m concerned, today the Browns stand 1-0.