Friday, September 7, 2012

The Home Team

Today's newspapers carried obituaries of Art Modell, who in 1961 purchased a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns, and in 1995 moved them to Baltimore, where the franchise (for now) remains as the Baltimore Ravens. The move made Modell unpopular--hated--in northern Ohio. One read, now and then, of this, as for example that he could not attend the funeral of Lou Groza, the great Browns placekicker of the 1950s and 1960s.

It struck me when reading this that persons who abused Modell for moving the team misunderstood the relationship between a professional sports franchise and the city where it happens to play. Yet the misunderstanding did not arise the day he announced the move, or the day before that. It went way back, for some to before the days when Modell controlled the franchise. Art Modell profited considerably by that misunderstanding, both in Cleveland and Baltimore. Given the almost forty years of profit that he had from this misunderstanding, I thought it would have become him to bear the fewer years of unpopularity without complaining.

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