Malcolm Glazer

Inside the Browns deal

As the Gulfstream jet lifted off the runway on its secret mission, Cleveland Stadium came briefly into view. Scattered among the plane's leather-upholstered seats were four men who knew the stadium better than the masons who built it: Browns owner Art Modell, his son and two close advisers. The mood was unusually subdued for this tight-knit group. Even Modell, ever ready with a quip, was reflective as the plane pierced the overcast, autumn sky. No one mentioned the stadium below. Modell saw it out of the window and thought -- correctly -- that he had spent the last of more than 300 Sundays there. It was shortly before dawn on Friday, Oct. 27, and the 70-year-old team owner had not...