I only met David Modell once. But I’ll never forget the way he looked me in the eye, shook my hand with both of his, and greeted me as if we had been long-time friends.
The beauty of that greeting is that it was just one in a million like it that David extended to so many others in and around Baltimore. Almost immediately he was an ambassador in the community even though in so many ways he was a new kid in town.
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As has been recollected by many, David will always be remembered for his instrumental role in connecting the team formerly known as the Cleveland Browns, to a city that was familiar with having its traditions confiscated. That empty feeling when the Colts left Baltimore resonated longer than any of us care to admit. For some those feelings haven’t left. Part of our town’s heritage was packed away in moving vans like a repossessed piece of property.
We all had mixed emotions about doing to another city what had been down to ours. But David’s effervescent spirit could not be suppressed. Instead it spread and it helped to smooth the road along that sentimental journey.
David’s father Art, is an iconic figure in Baltimore. He helped restore our sports heritage and in doing so he brought old friends together again on Sundays. New friendships were forged and businesses flourished as a community regained the missing bounce in its step. Art deserved credit for that but behind the scenes, burning the midnight oil to secure the Browns successful transition into the collective heart of Baltimore, was David.
We will never forget his passion, enthusiasm and his victorious romp through our city streets while embracing the Lombardi Trophy – Silver Betty, and allowing all of us to do the same, following Super Bowl XXXV.
John Unitas in many ways is responsible for putting Baltimore on the map. In an understated way, David Modell did the same, putting Charm City BACK on the map, given his role in not only bringing the NFL back to The Land of Pleasant Living, but by supercharging its rebirth.
It’s been said that success isn’t defined by the number of bedrooms in your home, the kind of car you drive or the zeros to the left of the decimal point in your bank account. But rather, it’s defined by the difference you make in the lives of children.
David made a difference in all of our lives and for generations to come.
That is his legacy.
Thank you David, you will be sorely missed and never forgotten.