Wailing Wall

Welcome to the Art Modell Wailing Wall

Here’s your chance to express your feelings about Art Modell and the Cleveland Browns’ 1995 move to Baltimore. All email addresses will be held confidential. However, the author may contact you for follow-up and/or for permission to use your comments in his forthcoming book.

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6 Replies to “Wailing Wall”

  1. I was there on Dec. 17, 1995, when Cleveland Stadium literally faded to black. Every one of the billboards in the house was cloaked in the darkest of paint to protect the identity of one-time advertisers, each of whom — like pretty much everyone in Northeast Ohio — no longer wanted anything to do with Browns owner Art Modell. In retrospect, that’s probably when I learned the definition of “redact.” Nearly 25 years later I still remember those black holes inside a stadium that I had always considered my second home; more so as an Indians fan, although we did have season tickets in the Dawg Pound through most of the 1980s. The football game itself, I can barely recall; I had to look up the score just now — Browns 26, Bengals 10. What else I do remember from the contest was the eerie din – think cicadas with baseball bats — that arose from the stands as the game clock inched closer to its eternal final countdown. That’s what happens when thousands of fans start tearing apart thousands of seats and simultaneously using the wooden remnants to drum up what, I suppose, was our version of “Taps.” It really was a sad day for fans of the Browns and Cleveland Stadium. Truly a funeral for a friend or two.

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  2. Living in Philadelphia at the time, I just kept telling myself that there is no way this will actually happen. Then, the morning of the press conference in Baltimore I got up from my desk and made my way to a TV. The feeling of helplessness that happens sometimes in life came to something that I could have never imagined.

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  3. I mostly remember being at the very last game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It was surreal. All the advertising was pulled from the stadium, so the scoreboard looked blank and abandoned. I heard people were going to tear out seats and other pieces of the stadium to take for souvenirs. So I smuggled in a huge screwdriver with the intent of prying off my seat number from the seat I had sat in for all the games back to the days my Dad took me as a boy in the seventies. When the Browns actually won the game, there was a feeling of celebration for a short time. The Dawg Pound was pulling up seats. Large blue wood planks from the bench seating were passed along over the heads of fans. I watched from the upper deck as the boards crowd surfed its way down to the field. I always think what a blessing it was the Browns won because had they lost, the feelings and actions of the fans could have turned ugly. The mood was saved by the Browns players coming over to the Dawg Pound after the game. I remember Steve Everritt and Earnest Byner most of all reaching in and hugging the fans. I was so overcome with emotion that I turned to my wife and said, “l just want to go,” as tears streamed down my cheeks. We slowly walked out with my screw driver untouched in my pocket and left the old Browns for the final time.

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  4. It was life-changing. I remember the moment in November 1995, and how the city exploded with rage. The Cleveland Browns were part of my life and, more importantly, part of my family’s life. They were something that joined family, friends, and community. I remember watching games with my family and pulling together behind Brian Sipe’s squad in the late 70s and Kosar’s Browns in the 80s. Win or lose, we supported the team and Modell’s business. Art Modell had options: His decision to move the team to Baltimore rather than sell it to someone who would keep it in Cleveland was selfish beyond reason and emblematic how corrupting fame and power can be. I supported the SOB and BFWWN movements and I didn’t lose my anger after the issue was resolved with the promise of a new team in Cleveland. I continued to support the BFWWN and the Expansion Now movement, primarily through internet activity and building websites dedicated to chronicling how owners used the threat of moving to Cleveland to extort expensive sports palaces for themselves. When the team returned in 1999, I gathered a group of friends and we started covering the team ourselves. Through a long and winding road, this led to a partnership with Bernie Kosar during the 2000s and a change of career about five years later which has now lasted nearly twenty years. It’s been quite a ride, but I’ll never forget the anger which launched it. Modell earned the infamy he gained. No apologies or mea culpas could ever diminish his selfish, unforgivable act of moving the team.

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  5. I was totally p*$$÷! off, mad as Hell! My father was probably one of the biggest Browns fan alive. I came to Love them because of him. My Uncle Jerry took him to a Browns practice, he was a referee at the time! Clay Matthews Jr., took his hat off his head, signed it and gave it to my Dad! It was a prized possession to my father. When the Browns made a bad play, he would throw it on the floor and cuss😂 We buried him in that hat. Of course I hated the Ravens, because of Modell leaving. Will say when Art Modell passed I was sad, guess I was over him taking the Browns and leaving.

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  6. I will never forget the day my family went to the Great Lakes Science Center. It was 1996 and the center had just opened. My family of six was super hype to be going, we were all bouncing up and down the whole way there. When we finally arrive in the parking lot we were all astonished to see the old Municipal Stadium looking like it was bombed over night. The entire stadium was reduced to large pieces of rubble. When I first saw it I remember thinking whoa that’s really cool, then I turned to look at my mom. I was shocked and confused to see her sobbing. She is a very strong women and I had rarely seen her cry. At that moment in time I was super confused as to why my mom was sobbing when we were so excited to be going to the brand new great lakes science center. Its a moment I will never forget and is permanently burned into my brain. Twenty years later I now understand. My mom’s dad was a blue collar working his whole life after returning from WWII. He was also a long time Browns season ticket holder. My mom later told me of all of her precious memories growing up at the stadium and what the Browns had meant to her and her family. My Grandpa eventually passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, my mom now suffers the same fate. I now carry the torch along with my brothers, sisters and cousins as a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder. The Cleveland Browns are embedded in all of our DNA and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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What are your memories of the Browns' move to Baltimore? How did it personally affect you? How do you feel about Art Modell today?

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