Art Modell, the controversial former Browns owner who moved the team out of Cleveland, has been hospitalized in Baltimore, and a local TV station reports that his condition is worsening.
The Baltimore Ravens confirmed the 87-year-old Modell is at Johns Hopkins Hospital but did not reveal his condition. Family members, including his two sons, have gathered to be by Modell’s side, WKYC-TV reports.
Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore following the 1995 season and renamed them the Ravens, a move that made him a hated man in the hearts of Cleveland fans. Modell and the Ravens went on to win the 2001 Super Bowl, while Cleveland was given a new franchise in 1999.
During Modell’s tenure as team owner, which began in 1961 when he bought the team for $4 million, the Browns made the postseason 17 times, winning 11 division titles and the NFL championship in 1964.
Modell sold a minority interest in the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti in 2000, and in April 2004, Bisciotti completed purchase of the franchise. But Modell retained a 1 percent piece of the team and is listed in the current Ravens media guide as a minority owner.
During his days as sole owner of the team, Modell served as NFL president from 1967 to ’69, chaired negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968 and was a key figure in getting NFL games televised on Monday nights. However, Modell is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Modell enjoyed watching the Ravens practice, always riding in a golf cart because he had difficulty walking. But those visits became more infrequent in recent years because of his failing health.