Although the majority of NFL teams intend to recognize Art Modell’s death this Sunday (as per the NFL’s request), the Cleveland Browns will not honor their late former owner. According to Yahoo! Sports, Art’s son David spoke with team president Mike Holmgren about forgoing any sort of memorial at Browns Stadium when the Browns host Philadelphia, which Holmgren – it can only be assumed – wholeheartedly agreed to.
That’s a savvy idea from Modell’s family, who would only witness a heated shit-show from Cleveland fans in response to Modell’s moving the original club after the 1995 season. In the case that casual observers don’t know Cleveland’s antipathy towards ol’ Arty, there is a plethora of peusdo-obituaries floating around the ‘Net that speak to how much Northeast Ohioans loathe any and all things Modell. As an unfortunate fan of Cleveland sports, I can’t really form a biased opinion against Modell. Sure, both of my grandfathers and my father (who, despite growing up in Canton, was a Bengals fan) only reference Modell in villainous terms, but I was too young to remember the Browns of yesteryear, spending my early years as an NFL fan living outside Philadelphia.
However, I know what the Browns mean to Clevelanders and Northeast Ohioans. It’s hard to explain to anyone who’s never grown up in Ohio (and fellow TSSer AJ, as a native Clevelander, could probably relate even better than I could), but the gash Modell left in Cleveland’s collective psyche after bouncing from the Lake Erie shores is something that will never fully heal.
It’s also a wound that shouldn’t be re-opened just because the NFL says so.