News that Art Modell was on his last legs and his sons were at bedside was on ESPN Radio on the way back from giving Eileen a ride from work; now comes the news that he's passed on at 87. Having lived through the old Cleveland Browns' move to Baltimore in 1996 while putting the final touches on my dissertation Kent State, I recall the nastiness sent Modell's way when he took Baltimore up on an offer to move. He came across as a poor-man's Art Rooney (the Steelers' owner) before that.
The city fathers helped build a downtown basketball stadium to lure the Cavs in from the exurbs between Cleveland and Akron and also built a new baseball stadium for the Indians. The Browns were left in the old Municipal Stadium, a big barn without a whole lot of modern niceties; the right field bleachers turned into the Dawg Pound rowdy section for Browns games. I found it touching when at a Billy Graham crusade there, that an overflow of people answering the alter call on Saturday night overwhelmed the shallow-center-field area where the podium was and overflowed into the Dawg Pound.
Blue collar aesthetics don't cut it in modern sports, however, and Modell, who didn't own much other than the Browns, didn't have the pockets to compete with a lame stadium; Baltimore had been itching to have a team since getting shafted by the Colts in the early 80s and made Modell a deal for a new stadium if he brought the Browns to Baltimore.
Given the bile pointed at Modell after that, I'm surprised he's lasted 16 years after that move; all the voodoo doll pins didn't work. The Browns were revived with an expansion team that kept the records of the old Browns and a new stadium, but they still don't like the Modells in Cleveland.