- Yrs w/Teams
1961-1995 Cleveland Browns
During the 51 seasons that Art Modell owned a National Football League franchise, his teams posted 30 winning seasons. Twice Modell-owned teams have won NFL championships, 1964 with the Cleveland Browns and in 2000 with the Baltimore Ravens. Three more times his Browns team played in the NFL title game (1965, 1968, 1969), and on six occasions his team played in the AFC championship game (1986, 1987, 1989 with the Browns, 2000, 2008, 2011 with the Ravens).
Art Modell purchased the Browns in 1961 for a then unprecedented $4 million. Already one of the sport’s most successful franchises, the winning tradition continued under Modell. In 1964 the Browns returned to the top of the league standings by defeating the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the title game. The team closed out the decade with three consecutive divisional crowns and two championship game appearances. During the 1970s the team had just three losing seasons and made the playoffs in 1971 and 1972 and barely missed a third appearance in 1979. Seven times during the 1980s the Browns advanced to the playoffs, including three memorable AFC title game losses to the Denver Broncos. The Browns, after defeating the New England Patriots in the 1994 Wild Card Game, made one final playoff appearance, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-9 in the divisional playoff game.
In 1996 pro football returned to Baltimore, Maryland as Modell relocated his team. Five seasons later, the Ravens were Super Bowl champions. He sold the majority ownership of the franchise in 2004 but remained part of the ownership group until his death in 2012.
Modell is the only elected NFL President in league history, serving in that capacity from 1967 through 1969. He served on the AFL-NFL Merger Committee and broke the impasse for realignment when he agreed to move the Browns into the AFC. He also chaired the NFL’s Labor Committee, which in 1968 successfully negotiated the league’s first collective bargaining agreement with the players. He is most noted, however, for his tenure as the NFL’s Broadcast Committee Chairman. The contracts he negotiated over a 31-year period (1962-1993) set the standard for sports TV. He was also an important participant in the negotiations with ABC to start Monday Night Football.
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