Robert Kraft remembers the late Art Modell
|09.06.12 at 3:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Robert Kraft lost a role model with the death of Art Modell.
The Patriots owner is regarded as one of the most influential people in sports for his position on the television negotiating committee for NFL owners. But long before the NFL became the mega-sport it is now with a multi-billion dollar TV deal, Kraft paid close attention to Modell, then the owner of the Cleveland Browns in the 1970s.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Art Modell,” Kraft said in a statement released on Thursday. “I regret that I hadn’t talked to him since the passing of his wife, Pat, last year. We both shared that experience, and I know how hard that was for Art. When I first entered the league, Art was quick to welcome me, and I always appreciated that. He leaves a lasting legacy for the many contributions he made to the National Football League. The one thing that I always admired most about Art was his understanding of the role television would play in the growth of the game of football and the overall popularity of the NFL.
“He understood the value of primetime games at a time when there really wasn’t a tremendous demand. He helped negotiate and launch ABC’s Monday Night Football in 1970. I can’t remember what Monday nights were like during the fall before Monday Night Football, nor could I imagine them without football today. Football fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for that alone. I speak for my entire family in extending our heartfelt sympathies to the Modells.”
Modell died early Thursday at the age of 87 of what his son David termed were “natural causes.” The longtime NFL owner is most famous for moving the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1995 and renaming them the Ravens. He admittedly forever tarnished his legacy in Cleveland with the notorious move.
It’s ironic and appropriate that the Ravens last game with Modell as owner came last January when Kraft’s Patriots beat Baltimore in the AFC Championship.