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Ex-Browns owner Art Modell dead at 87

9:18 AM, Sep 6, 2012   |    comments
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BALTIMORE -- Former Browns owner Art Modell passed away early this morning in a Baltimore hospital.

Channel 3 News first broke the story that Modell, 87, was hospitalized on Wednesday night.

Photos: Art Modell through the years

Modell died of natural causes at John Hopkins Hospital. His son, former Ravens president David Modell, confirmed the news in a statement released by the Ravens Thursday morning.

"Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at 4 a.m. this morning," David Modell said. "My brother John Modell and I were with him when he finally rejoined the absolute love of his life, my mother Pat Modell, who passed away last October.

"'Poppy' was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren. Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore. He made an important and indelible contribution to the lives of his children, grandchildren and his entire community. We will miss him."

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

Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1961 for $4 million, an unprecedented sum at that time. The Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964, blanking the Baltimore Colts, 27-0.

Modell owned the Browns from 1961 to 1995. Modell's wife, Patricia Breslin Model, died a year ago at 80.

Modell was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He also was a semifinalist in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He has yet to receive the requisite votes for enshrinement.

Three decades later, he uprooted the franchise, moving to Baltimore in 1996. However, he did leave behind the Browns franchise name and the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999.

Behind one of the most stout defensive units, the Ravens won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, crushing the New York Giants by a 34-7 score.

Financial issues forced Modell to sell a minority share of the team to Steve Bisciotti in 1999 before yielding controlling interest to Bisciotti in 2004. Modell served as NFL president from 1967-69 and as the chairman of the NFL's television committee for 31 years (1962-93).

He also led negotiations on the NFL's first collective bargaining agreement with its players in 1968.

In Baltimore, Modell and the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. Modell is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Stay tuned to Channel 3 and for the latest information.    

WKYC-TV/TSN/Associated Press

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