NFL: Art Modell forever will be known as the man who took the Browns out of Cleveland, but his legacy as one of the NFL’s most influential personalities extends far beyond state lines. As an old-guard owner, he helped pour the foundation for today’s game and presided over a host of landmark events.
Modell died early Thursday morning of natural causes, according to his family. He was 87.
The league’s golden era was launched soon after he purchased the Browns franchise for a then-record price of just less than $4 million in 1961. Among Modell’s cornerstone moments:
Because of a television background, he was named chairman of the broadcast committee in only his second year in the league. Along with commissioner Pete Rozelle, Modell struck a partnership with television executives that would open the financial floodgates to unimagined riches.
He championed the cause of revenue sharing in the 1960s, convincing owners the league was only as strong as its weakest link.
He directed negotiations that produced the league’s first collective bargaining agreement with its players in 1968.
He served on the committee that negotiated the NFL-AFL merger.
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