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The sports world reacts to death of Art Modell

  • By NFL.com
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The death of former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell reverberated throughout the National Football League, eliciting responses from figures both past and present. Here are some of those responses:

Statements

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti: "He was my friend, my mentor. We will miss him so much. How lucky are all of us to have had Art in Baltimore? How fortunate I am to have had him teach me about the NFL. His generosity, his love, his humor, his intelligence, his friendship -- we were all blessed by this great man. We will strive to live up to his standard."

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome: "Art was a giant in our industry. He was my boss -- but he wouldn't let me call him that -- my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I've ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful."

Art Modell, one of the most influential people in the NFL, died Thursday, eliciting a range of reactions.
Art Modell, one of the most influential people in the NFL, died Thursday, eliciting a range of reactions. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Ravens coach John Harbaugh: "It is often said about those inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame: 'Can you write the history of the league without him?' The answer with Art Modell is resounding. He was a great leader, but more importantly, he was truly a good man."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "Art Modell's leadership was an important part of the NFL's success during the league's explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond. As the longtime chairman of the league's Broadcast Committee, Art was a visionary who understood the critical role that mass viewing of NFL games on broadcast television could play in growing the league. Art played important roles in many other league matters as a key advisor to Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, and also built championship teams in Cleveland and Baltimore. His skills as an owner and league contributor were matched only by his great sense of humor. Any conversation with Art included laughs. He always left you with a smile on your face. We extend our condolences to John, David and the rest of the Modell family."

Former NBC-TV president Dick Ebersol: "I believe very strongly that Art Modell is one of the most important figures in the history of the modern NFL. He and Pete Rozelle developed the magic formula that married the potential of television to the game. Those funds from this marriage propelled the game into what it is today. Art was there with Pete, and Art made it happen. Those two, along with Well Mara -- who convinced other owners about the power of shared revenue -- are the three men who pushed the NFL into what we know today."

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: "Art Modell made extraordinary contributions to the National Football League during his decades as an NFL owner. When he stepped away from operating the Baltimore Ravens in 2004, his 43 seasons in the league represented more than half of the NFL's history. Art contributed to the NFL's growth and success through the performance of his teams, his recognition of the unique place our sport has in American life, his active participation in the league’s governance, and his support of civic and community organizations. He was a trusted advisor to both Commissioner Rozelle and me during our time in office. His wisdom, knowledge and wit kept both of us grounded in the toughest of circumstances. My deepest sympathies to David, John and the entire Modell family on their loss."

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick: "Art Modell was all about family, and that's how he directed the Ravens. He treated me, my family and everyone in the organization like a member of his family. Before I think of the gratitude I owe him for giving me the opportunity to be his head coach, I think of the way he treated all of us. I don't believe there's another NFL franchise that embraces that more than Art did. That was reflected in the people he hired. He created an atmosphere that was the best. It was a joy to come to work for him. He accomplished so much as an owner: championships, playoffs, the TV contracts, the leadership in the NFL. They are all great and deserving of the Hall of Fame. Those who worked with Art will all say the same thing. He was a Hall of Fame person."

Former Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer: "No, no, this is sad news. I loved Art Modell, and I was just thinking of him yesterday. He was a man's man, someone you wanted to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with. He gave me my first head coaching job, and we had the most fun working together. We didn't win the biggest prize, but we were awfully close, and we had a ball trying to get there. Art made it fun. His humor was the best, and my wife, Pat, always said what a gentleman he is -- classy, and he ran his franchise that way. I have only good memories of Art."

Browns spokesperson: "The Cleveland Browns would like to extend their deepest condolences to the entire Modell family."

Giants president and CEO John Mara on the passing of Art Modell: "Art Modell was one of the greatest owners in the history of the NFL. He contributed in so many ways to the success of this League and he deserves a place in Canton. More importantly, he was a decent man and a great friend to my family. We will miss him dearly."

Giants executive vice president Steve Tisch: "Art Modell was a visionary, a deal-maker and a friend. And he possessed a marvelous sense of humor. Our league and my father and our family benefitted from his great qualities and foresight. It was Art who formally introduced my father to Wellington Mara, which ultimately led to my father purchasing 50 percent of the Giants franchise. For that, and for Art's good nature, we will always be grateful."

Former Denver Broncos and Ravens TE Shannon Sharpe: "One of my favorite moments in the NFL was when he spoke to us in the locker room after the Super Bowl victory. He said, 'This is the proudest day of my life; you guys make me proud.' And then he started to break down. That touched me. You could not only see the emotion from him and from all of us in that room, you could feel it. Knowing how long he had been in the NFL and how many great players he had been around, it was such a great feeling to give him something that he wanted for so long. We all wanted it for him!"

Ravens LB Ray Lewis: "When you think about Art Modell, you think about a great man, a leader, a father and a servant. Every minute of his life, he cared more about everyone around him than himself. Anytime I saw him, he would always make me smile. He always had a joke to lighten your mood or some sort of wisdom to impart to make you a better man. I genuinely loved Art as a man, and he showed me what to strive for in life. When you truly see the impact he had on everyone he touched, it humbles you. When I found out he wasn't doing well, I knew immediately I had to see him. When I was with him yesterday, I prayed with him and shared with him things that a son would say to a father. Even though he has left us, he is going to a place that one day we all want to be. I am truly blessed to have had Art in my life. He was a humble servant, and one of the best men I have ever known."

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He's vilified in Cleveland, but Art Modell meant a lot to the NFL over 43 seasons as sole owner of the Browns and Ravens, Marc Sessler writes. More...

Former Browns and Ravens RB Earnest Byner: "The thing about Mr. Modell, his heart was always one of giving. That man did a lot for Cleveland, he did a lot for the players that were on that team, and he gave a lot of people a lot of second chances in life. He's a juggernaut in the league because of what he did for Monday Night Football. He was a visionary, and he had the heart of a champion. For me, that pretty much says it all."

Former Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins QB Bernie Kosar: "I had a special relationship with Mr. Modell, and he's probably angry that I'm not calling him Art. We were close when I played for him and became even closer through our adversities. He was such a caring person. The first thing he would ask is, 'How are you doing? How are the kids?' He told me that I was like a son to him, and that made me proud. A lot of Clevelanders wouldn’t believe this, but Art is one of the most loyal and trusting persons I've ever met. Maybe that led him to some decisions that not everyone liked. But, he was tough -- always willing to take the brunt of things on his shoulders. He didn't blame others. This is a sad day for me. I truly valued his friendship and will miss that."

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