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Browns to honor former owner Art Modell during season opener

Art Modell Former Browns owner, Art Modell, will be honored during the team's season opener this Sunday. (Larry French, Getty Images)

The Browns will honor former owner Art Modell during Sunday's opening game against the Eagles, reports the NFL's Albert Breer. Modell died at the age of 87 on Thursday morning of natural causes. He was the owner of the Browns from 1961 to 1995 and the Ravens from 1996 to 2003. Modell's decision to move the Browns franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996 "made [him] a national symbol of seemingly disloyal sports owners," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some fans who spoke to the AP's Tom Withers following his death still expressed resentment towards Modell:

"Good," said Debbie Wentz of Brunswick. "That's what I thought when I first heard about it. I'm still bitter about the move."

"He took away our football team. How could you do that?" asked Jim Thwaite, owner of Whitey's Army and Navy Store in Berea, Ohio, where the Browns have had their headquarters for more than 30 years. "We are blood and guts, blue-collar Browns fans. It didn't make any sense, still doesn't."

However, Modell was also an integral part of the NFL's expansion to additional cities and increasing the league's TV revenues:

"Mr. Modell supported a succession of winning ideas — the expansion of the N.F.L. into many cities; the 1970 merger of the American Football League and the National Football League into competing N.F.L. conferences; preseason games that whetted fans’ appetites and brought in more television money; and revenue-sharing plans that balanced risks among the owners, whom he called partners."
Team spokesman Neal Gulkis did not specify what the ceremony would entail but said that it would likely occur prior to the game and be "an appropriate recognition."

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