Moving on from “The Move”
With the news that Art Modell has been nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame, it may be time for Cleveland Browns fans to drop their grudges.
I understand why most Dawg Pound Daily readers will label me a traitor, a hypocrite or worse — and I accept their judgement — but now that the Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced its 2017 nominees, it’s time for this lifelong fan to send away a burning resentment.
While my loyalty and love for the Cleveland Browns remain rock-solid, I’ll be OK if the Hall of Fame inducts Art Modell. If it happens, it happens.
November 6, 1995 was the first time my sons ever saw me break down into uncontrollable tears, an emotion likely shared by millions of Browns fans around the world.
Since the first time I was old enough to sit with my late father in our original season tickets, Section 35, upper deck, not a day went by without me thinking about the Browns. From the Jim Brown era through the pre-genius Belichick — every memory shattered by one man’s greed, selfishness, ego, whatever. Gone — in a single day.
But after a quarter century of depressing Sundays, continual “re-sets”, uncaring ownership, failed front offices and more than $30,000 spent on Browns season tickets it’s time for me to give up resenting Art Modell. I can’t lay the team’s failure on his legacy.
I’m also cleaning the slate with David Modell, former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening (the only Democrat I ever campaigned against), and especially the Browns employees whose professional and family responsibilities took them from Cleveland to Baltimore. I now understand, I get it and I’m sorry.
My late dad got it — even though buying those Browns tickets was one of the first things he did after returning from WWII. He never missed a home game and later watched every Sunday with the Sarasota Browns Backers. He died the day the Browns returned, September 13, 1999 and he is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery wearing a shirt from that opening Sunday night return game against the Steelers. But as much as he loved Cleveland and “his Browns,” as friends sneered whenever they lost, he died without resenting Art Modell. He figured there was no good in holding grudges over a football team.
Art sold his interest in the Ravens in 2003, died in 2012 and his son David is battling lung cancer. While Baltimore boasts a world-class stadium, a winning franchise and passionate (albeit annoying) fans, the Browns have become a national joke with the team’s loyal followers the punch line. Yet, my generation of native Clevelanders has finally experienced championship joy. As chronicled in Draft Day to Believeland, “The Move” has forever changed the greater Sports Universe, and Modell’s Hall of Fame prospects grow dimmer with each passing year.
Next: Brown vs. Dolphins: 3 defensive takeaways
Those are the facts history will never surrender — but I can.