Reporting Stacey Brown
The sports community spent much of the day reacting to the death of former Ravens owner Art Modell, who passed away of natural causes early this morning. Senior vice president of public and community relations for the Baltimore Ravens, Kevin Byrne joined The Vinny and Rob Show on 105.7 The Fan today and remembered Modell’s bright personality. “His humor was so outstanding. He’d make you laugh. He did that regularly and humor was such a huge part of his life, sometimes unusual for a man as powerful and successful as Art Modell,” Byrne said. Byrne began working for Modell in 1981 and relocated to Baltimore when he moved the Cleveland franchise here in 1996. “I thought that he got the short end from the Cleveland politicians and the business leaders there and I felt in some small way that I could help tell his story to make people realize why he had to do this and why they didn’t take care of him,” Byrne said. Byrne added that Modell started with nothing and earned every penny along the way to fortune and fame as an NFL team owner. Modell dropped out of high school at age 15 to support his mother and his two sisters after his father passed away. He worked as an electrician’s helper, cleaning hulls of ships in a Brooklyn shipyard before joining the Air Force in 1943 at age 18. He purchased the Cleveland Browns on March 21, 1961 and went on to become the only elected NFL president in league history, serving in that capacity in 1967 to 1969. Other highlights of Modell’s career include helping to successfully negotiate the NFL’s first collective bargaining agreement with players in 1968 and having a hand in the start of Monday Night Football. Byrne is hopeful that Modell will someday be voted into the Hall of Fame.