Former Ravens owner and the man who brought football back to Baltimore, Art Modell, died of natural causes early this morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Read below the statement from the Baltimore Ravens website:

Art Modell, whose remarkable 43-year NFL career made him a regular finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died today of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 87.

Former Ravens president David Modell issued this statement:

“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at 4 a.m. this morning.  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.”

As owner of both the Cleveland Browns (1961-1995) and the Baltimore Ravens (1996-2003), Modell directed teams that produced 28 winning seasons, 28 playoff games, two NFL Championships (1964 and 2000), three other appearances in NFL title contests (1965, ’68 and ’69), and four visits (1986, ’87, ’89 and 2000) to AFC championships.

A key figure in launching Monday Night Football, Modell chaired the NFL’s Television Committee for 31 years, setting the standard for rights’ fees for professional sports and TV networks. He was the only elected NFL president (1967-69) and he was Chairman of the owners’ Labor Committee, which negotiated the NFL’s first collective bargaining unit with the players.

From dropping out of high school (New Ultrecht in Brooklyn, NY) at the age of 15 to help his financially-strapped family after the death of his father, to ownership of NFL championship teams, to his generous contributions to community services, Modell, who insisted people of all ages call him Art, embodied a true American success story.


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Susan Dunn

Susan Gerardo Dunn is the founding editor and publisher of Baltimore Fishbowl.