Art Modell, the man best known for picking up the Cleveland Browns, changing the franchise's name and colors, and moving it to Baltimore in 1996, died on Thursday at the age of 87.
“Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at 4 a.m. this morning," David Modell said in a prepared statement.
"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.”
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Modell initially bought the Browns for $4 million back in 1961 and kept the team in Ohio for more than 30 years. When he ultimately decided to relocate it to Baltimore, understandably, the move was met with something of a chilly reception from Cleveland faithful. The Ravens’ success in Baltimore only further exacerbated matters.
Because of what happened, Modell was widely regarded as "The Most Hated Man in Cleveland."
In 2004, Modell sold majority ownership of the team to Steve Bisciotti.
He is survived by two sons and six grandchildren.