As reported by the Baltimore Sun, the NFL today announced that there will be a moment of silence to honor the late Art Modell before every game this weekend.
League commissioner Roger Goodell informed Ravens President Dick Cass of the decision. Cass then passed the news to Modell’s sons John an David during a press conference at the Castle on Friday.
Modell’s career accomplishments as an owner and a television pioneer are enough to have many calling for his enshrinement in Canton. There is no question that Modell is worthy of such a league-wide honor; however, there is a MAJOR problem on the horizon.
The Cleveland Browns host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
As much love as the city of Baltimore feels for Modell, there is the equivalent in utter distaste for him by most residents of Cleveland. Modell’s reasons for moving the Browns to Baltimore makes no difference to Browns fans – all they care about is that he left them without a team for three years.
To ask Cleveland fans to hold a moment of silence for Modell is like asking Ravens fans to do the same for Bob Irsay. Sports fans in Cleveland have proven their passion for sports during the good and – for the most part – the bad times. If the NFL doesn’t think the reaction will be negative for Modell, they need only look at how many people acted when LeBron James decided he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
You can be all but guaranteed the crowd will voice their displeasure for Modell as the fan base is proverbially handed a sledgehammer to drive the final nail in the coffin.
Hopefully the NFL has cleared the decision to host this moment of silence with the Modell family because embarrassment is all but guaranteed in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Browns franchise is also put into a bad situation. They don’t want to look unprofessional and refuse to honor someone who had monumental contributions to the game, but they have to be concerned with the actions inside their stadium, especially from the “Dawg Pound,” residents of which are notoriously some of the most rabid fans in the game.
People may think honoring Modell in Cleveland won’t be that big of a deal but if the response to his death by Browns fans online is any indication, it’s not going to be pretty. Countless negative, heartless posts have been made on message boards, social media sites etc. with those voicing their distaste of Modell in a clear display of “hiding behind your keystrokes.”
Paying tribute to Modell should be about a celebration of life and in Cleveland it’s all but certain to be a celebration of death. Arthur B. Modell doesn’t deserve that, nor does his family, who has to cope with the loss of a loved one.
There is no doubt that the celebration of Modell’s life will be positive and emotional at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night. For one of very few times in Ravens history, someone may actually get a louder ovation during pregame ceremonies than Ray Lewis does.