With the recent death of former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner, Art Modell, the question that remains is, how will Browns fans react to the death of the most reviled sports figure in the Cleveland’s tortured sports history.
The man that many Cleveland sports fans consider to be hated above both Lebron James and John Elway, has now put the very city that he would desert in a very precarious and delicate position.
What will Cleveland do?
Modell, 87, who would pass away due to natural cases at Johns Hopkins Hospital early Thursday morning in Baltimore, moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore—where they would be re-named the Ravens—in 1996.
His decision to move the original franchise, which had been in Cleveland since 1946, would forever alienate him from a die-hard and loyal fan base and even lead to the end of a long-time friendship with Pittsburgh Steelers owner, Art Rooney, who voted against the move.
For all of the many great things that Modell did for the NFL, his off-the-field decisions ranging from the release of popular quarterback Bernie Kosar to the firing of namesake head coach Paul Brown, add to the long-standing bitterness and open loathing for a man that would bring Cleveland its last sports championship in 1964.
As sadistic and chilling as it may sound, this day couldn’t come soon enough for Browns fans that have been waiting for over a decade to openly express their pent-up feelings of anger and vile towards him.
Is it justified to openly celebrate death? Absolutely not.
Cleveland fans may be tempted in cheering—or booing—his passing, my personal belief is that one should never speak ill of the dead. Ever.
With all NFL teams planning a moment of silence to honor Modell this weekend, the city of Cleveland has a chance to do it “right” in showing some respect for Modell and at the same time repair both its civic and sports perception nationally as being a bitter, spiteful and unforgiving sports fan base.
This is a chance for Cleveland to show the NFL community that they can move on and forgive, while this sounds outside the bounds of reason, with humiliating debacles ranging from “Bottlegate” to crazed fans running on the field, Browns fans have a oppurtunity to shine in the national spotlight for once.
While it may be easy for Browns fans to vent, it would be both wise—and a real show of class—if Cleveland took the proverbial high road in this case.
Robert D. Cobb is the NBA Network Manager for Rant Media Network, Featured Writer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Featured Columnist for the Cleveland Browns and Arsenal Gunners.
In addition to covering the NBA, I also cover MLB, NFL, NHL and Champions League soccer news, rumors and opinions, please follow me on Twitter at@RobertCobb_76