Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Nation Mourns a Tragic Hero: Art Modell 1925-2012

Today, a nation mourns the passing of a tragic hero.  A man who did all that he could to destroy a blight, and in the end, caused even more harm than he could have imagined.

Art Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1961.  After two short years, he began his quest to rid the world of the Cleveland Browns by firing one of the greatest coaches in the history of football, Paul Brown.  Little did he know, the Browns would continue to thrive in the short term, winning the NFL championship in 1964, giving Cleveland it's last moment of happiness.  Even worse, Paul Brown would found the Cincinnati Bengals, creating a fan base almost as low-brow as the Browns fan.

For a while, it appeared that Modell would overcome this adversity.  The Browns were awful in for most of the late sixties through early eighties.  But his plan to bring in the slow footed and weak armed Bernie Kosar as his quarterback in 1984 failed; the franchise sank into relative success.  He was often quoted as saying, "Thank God for John Elway."

In 1996, it appeared that he had finally triumphed.  The Cleveland Browns were moved to Baltimore.  But the NFL, influenced by a young intern named Roger Goodell, kept the name and history of the Cleveland Browns and awarded the city with a new franchise.  Modell also unwittingly unleashed a new class of asshole on the nation: the Ravens fan.  The Ravens fan is like the kid who had his lunch money stolen from the bully, who made himself feel better by stealing the lunch money of a Kinder-gardener   In 2000, Modell's Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV, successfully scarring the psyche of Clevelanders, but sadly giving the Ravens fan the validation that they longed for.

It was not all tragedy, even though the Browns came back into existence in 1999, they have been the laughing stock of football for more than a decade.  They have been perennially trounced by their "rival", the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Last winning in Cleveland on December 10, 2009, on a night when hell literally froze over.

The Steeler Nation wishes you Gods Speed Art Modell. We hope that in heaven, there is no "Red Right 88", no "The Drive", no "The Fumble".  We can all agree.  Go fuck yourself Cleveland.

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