A moment of silence was taken around the NFL on Sunday in honor of Art Modell, except in Cleveland, of course. A moment of silence had been planned in Cleveland, but was scratched after Modell’s family asked Cleveland officials to not honor Modell. Cleveland fans, still not forgiving of Modell’s decision to move the team to Baltimore, would likely not have responded well to the recognition of Modell, the most hated man in Cleveland history.
I was only nine-years-old when Modell moved the team to Baltimore, and I wasn’t the die-hard fan I am now. However, I still hate Modell for moving the team. It’s only speculation, but I have to believe that the Browns would be a totally different team today, had it not been for them having to rebuild the team in 1999. Baltimore took our players and management, and went on to win a Super Bowl in 2000. It’s my belief that the Lombardi Trophy should’ve belonged in Cleveland. And for that reason, Clevelanders have never been able to forgive Modell.
There were several reasons Modell allegedly decided to move the team to Baltimore. Modell was supposedly facing severe financial troubles and felt that selling the team would be the best option. However, in my opinion, he could’ve sold the team to someone who promised to keep the team in Cleveland. That’s what Randy Lerner did when he recently sold the team to Jimmy Haslam III, and that’s why Lerner hasn’t lost anyone’s respect.
Modell was also frustrated with the city of Cleveland. Modell wanted a new stadium for the Browns, but instead, city officials built Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), the Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Great Lakes Science Center. While Modell may have been frustrated with city officials, it still didn’t give him the right to move the team out of Cleveland.
There’s a couple reasons I’m happy we didn’t recognize Modell on Sunday. First and foremost, I don’t think Modell deserved the recognition. I know he was an important fixture in the NFL, but what he did to Cleveland fans is a disgrace. Modell never even apologized for moving the team, so he wasn’t deserving of any respect from Cleveland fans.
No matter how much I hate Modell for moving the team, I will never celebrate another person’s death. But I also just can’t mourn the death of a man like Modell, and I believe the majority of Cleveland fans feel the same way. However, Cleveland fans are brutal, and this is the other reason I’m happy we didn’t recognize Modell. Had there been a moment of silence planned, I’m sure many fans would’ve started cheering and celebrating Modell’s death. Cleveland fans are some of, if not the most loyal fans in the NFL, but ruining a moment of silence to recognize Modell’s death, would’ve made us look awful.
Modell will be remembered by many around the league as a legend, but he’ll always be a villian in Cleveland. His death also brings bad news to former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. Now that Modell is gone, James is without a doubt, the most hated man in Cleveland.