A couple of years ago, a few days before
You haven't lived until you've heard
Modell, the Ravens' owner emeritus at the time, was in a terrific mood. He sat in his wheelchair, dressed in a sharp-looking blue shirt and dark slacks, and he was gracious and witty with everyone who stopped by to talk and offer congratulations.
"My health is reasonably good," he told me. "I'm grateful for that because I went through an awful lot. Two
He laughed softly and added: "I'm grateful to the High Commissioner for that. And I don't mean
Memories of that wonderful afternoon came flooding back with the news of Modell's death Thursday at 87.
The Ravens couldn't have asked for a better owner, that's for sure. He brought football back to Baltimore in 1996 and helped heal the horrible civic wound Bob Irsay caused when he moved the
But during that birthday celebration, men like Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens'' general manager, and Kevin Byrne, the team's long-time media relations guru, were eager to talk about what a visionary Modell was, what a giant he was in
"There wasn't anything innovative or new to the game that he wasn't a part of," Newsome told me.
Modell, Newsome and Byrne pointed out, had headed the owners' labor committtee that negotiated the NFL's first collective bargaining agreement with the players.
He had been a key figure in the merger of the AFL and NFL, too, because he agreed to move the
When I said good-bye to Modell at that birthday party, so many well-wishers had stopped by his table that his slice of cake sat virtually untouched.
"Nice talking to you again,"" he said. "Take care of yourself."