Art Modell: A Villian in One City; A Saint in the Other

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As many of you know, I am a Browns fan living in Baltimore, MD.  During my morning commute, I normally flip back and forth between national ESPN radio and the local sports radio station.  Since I can only handle Mike Greenberg in very small doses, I normally spend a majority of my commute listening to the local Baltimore ESPN radio station.

As to be expected the main topic the morning of September 7th was the passing of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell.

When I woke up that morning, as usual I logged into twitter to see what pressing stories broke over the night.  I quickly learned about the passing of Modell.  I was happy to see most Browns fans that I follow passing on their condolences.  I know there is still hatred for the man in many of our hearts, but in a time of death, it’s proper to allow the man to rest in peace.  I also understand that not all share those same feelings.  I was just 12 years old when the Browns moved.  I was only becoming an NFL fan at that time. The Browns void left me to follow the Buckeyes that much more closely.

Where I am in my life now and how passionate I am for the Browns, I couldn’t imagine the feeling of being told that they were moving.  So I completely understand the sentiments from a large part of the fan base that are unwilling to forgive or just accept Art Modell for what he did.

As I listened to local radio they were just going on and on about what a great man he was.  What strong values he had.  How much he cared for the NFL.  My stomach began to turn.  As they talked about what a stand-up individual he was, I couldn’t believe that they were talking about the same man.

Then they brought in their third host and he came on and just began lambasting Cleveland Browns faithful.  He had been perusing local Browns sites and was making bold statements on many of the comments and tweets made from a still bitter fan base.  He began calling the fan base despicable and used terms that would offend any member of Browns faithful.  As he began making these statements, the other radio hosts started chiming in.  Saying how the Browns never deserve a championship, this is why LeBron left, they didn’t deserve Modell.  Then the final statement that set me off was, “The Browns moved and the fans just need to move on.”

I believe that anyone who has air time should possess a certain type of integrity.  You cannot emotionally attach yourself to a franchise or team.  You are employed to speak on current issues affecting the local team, not be a voice of the fan base.

The problem I have the most with this is that Baltimore is a city that should completely understand how the Browns fans feel.  One of the on air personalities showed a small ounce of integrity and stated that the comments made by Browns fans are very close to the ones made by Baltimore fans when Bob Irsay died. He was quickly shut down by his co-host when he said, but Bob Irsay was a terrible man, Art was a great human being.

At this point I realized that these hosts possess zero integrity.  They are unable to separate their feelings and emotions from the news stories that affect the area.  Don’t you for a second think that in the city of Indianapolis that Bob Irsay is a saint?

The comment that really grinded at me was “Browns fans need to move on.”  I can assure you from firsthand experience that Baltimore Colts fans haven’t moved on from a move that happened almost 30 years ago.

My wife is from Northwest Indiana and is a diehard Colts fan.  (How many chicks do you know who have a Jeff Saturday jersey?)  Our normal Sunday involves watching the 1:00 games at home.  Most Baltimore bars put the Browns on the smallest tiniest TV in the corner, so I subscribe to the NFL Sunday Ticket and choose to watch my Brownies at home.  Normally, for the 4:00 games we will make our way to a local bar district.  I will be in my Browns jersey and she’ll be rocking her Colts jersey.  On multiple occasions my wife has been spit at, has had beer poured on her and had empty bottles thrown at her.  Simply for wearing an INDIANAPOLIS Colts jersey, you know the team she GREW UP rooting for.  These events are not just directed at her.  Being in the military, I live/work with people from all over the country.  I happen to know several Colts fans and they all share nearly identical stories to watching a game in Baltimore.

How is Cleveland expected to move on when Baltimore hasn’t?  The worst part is, when I have to intervene, I am often told by the culprit that I don’t understand.  That they hate the Colts around here because they moved.  I look at the guy and say, “I’m a Browns fan, and I am one of the few who knows what it’s like to have your team stolen from you.” The confused a puzzled look on his face tells me everything I need to know.

So much of the young fan base doesn’t even know that the Ravens came from Cleveland.  They have been raised to hate the Irsay family and the Indianapolis Colts for what they did to Baltimore.  But they are not educated on the events that took place to get their Ravens.  They view Art Modell as a savior and the great man who brought football back to Baltimore.

The biggest problem I have with this Modell story, is that here in Baltimore the entire story is not being told.  To them a great man and football pioneer has passed.  I know a different story is being told in Cleveland.  They say that history is written by the winners.  It’s important that in a time of death, not to lose perspective on the type of man the Art Modell really was.  He may have done a lot of things for the sport, but he also ripped out the hearts of one of the sports most loyal fan bases.

Look for more stories this season of “Being a Brown in Baltimore.”  I will be sure to chronicle all the absurd and preposterous run-in’s I have with the BaltiMORON Ravens fans.  Follow me on Twitter @kylecedwards713

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