Former Browns, Ravens owner Art Modell sick in Baltimore hospital

BALTIMORE, Md. - Former Browns owner Art Modell   is gravely sick in a Baltimore hospital.

Modell owned the Browns from 1961-1995. The 87-year-old Modell has been battling health problems and has his family by his bedside. The Ravens said Modell is at Johns Hopkins Hospital, AP reports.

While the City of Cleveland agreed to improve Municipal Stadium, Modell issued a public moratorium on discussions relating to the stadium issue or the future of his franchise. It was during this time that Modell entered into secret discussions with the State of Maryland to move the franchise to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The announcement of the move occurred several days before the public referendum on the extension of the sin tax that would fund the improvements on Municipal Stadium as Modell had originally requested. But, Modell wrote a letter to Cleveland's mayor and Ohio's governor saying that the passing of the referendum may not be enough to keep the Browns. Modell also wanted that information to be made public.

Commentators have speculated that the timing of the announcement was to cause the referendum to go down in defeat and thus allow Modell to make the case that he was not receiving the public support he needed to remain viable in Cleveland. Nonetheless, the referendum was passed by a wide margin. Modell was assisted in the move by Alfred Lerner, who would go on to become the new owner of the reactivated Cleveland Browns franchise in 1998. Modell's move returned the NFL to Baltimore for the first time since the Colts left for Indianapolis after the 1983 season.


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