Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens Art Modell died this morning at age 87. In 1991, Modell decided to hire the Giants’ defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick, as his team’s newest head coach; Belichick was just 39 at the time.
Here are statements from both Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the passing of Modell, who sold the Ravens in 2004 to Steve Bisciotti. Bisciotti remains the owner of the Ravens.
Bill Belichick statement
“My time with the Browns was an invaluable period in my career. I was fortunate to have so many outstanding players, coaches and front office staff and together we were able to rebuild the program. As with any major undertaking, the path had its challenges but by the end of four years we had a winning team, which made the process very rewarding. Unfortunately, we did not complete our task and the ultimate franchise relocation was a very disappointing result. In all, I am very grateful to Mr. Modell for providing me my first opportunity to be an NFL coach. I learned many things through our personal interactions and have applied many of those lessons in my later years as a head coach. My deepest condolences are with the Modell family.”
Robert Kraft statement
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Art Modell. I regret that I hadn’t talked to him since the passing of his wife, Pat, last year. We both shared that experience and I know how hard that was for Art. When I first entered the league, Art was quick to welcome me, and I always appreciated that. He leaves a lasting legacy for the many contributions he made to the National Football League. The one thing that I always admired most about Art was his understanding of the role television would play in the growth of the game of football and the overall popularity of the NFL. He understood the value of prime time games at a time when there really wasn’t a tremendous demand. He helped negotiate and launch ABC’s Monday Night Football in 1970. I can’t remember what Monday nights were like during the fall before Monday Night Football, nor could I imagine them without football today. Football fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for that alone. I speak for my entire family in extending our heartfelt sympathies to the Modells.”