Former owner Art Modell dies

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Art Modell was one of the NFL's most influential owners and helped mold the foundation of the league.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Art Modell was one of the NFL's most influential owners and helped mold the foundation of the league.

Art Modell’s fingerprints can still be found all over the NFL.

In Baltimore. In Cleveland. On Monday night football. On past labor agreements.

Along with colleagues named Rozelle, Halas, Brown and Rooney – all pillars of a fledgling league – Modell helped transform the NFL into America’s pre-eminent sport.

The former Ravens owner died early Thursday, leaving behind a legacy that was unblemished save for one decision that hounded him the rest of his life: moving his team from Cleveland to Baltimore.

David Modell said he and his brother, John, were at their father’s side when he “died peacefully of natural causes.” He was 87.

“The game of football lost one of its all-time greats,” Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr. said. “Art’s contributions to the NFL during his five decades in the game are immeasurable. I believe that Art did as much as any owner to help make the NFL what it is today. Art was a pioneer, a visionary and a selfless owner who always saw the big picture and did the right thing.

“Our game would not be what it is today if it weren’t for Art Modell.”

Modell spent 43 years as an NFL owner, overseeing the Browns from 1961 until he moved the team to Baltimore in 1996. He served as league president from 1967-69, helped finalize the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968 and was the point man for the NFL’s lucrative contracts with television networks.

Long before his Ravens won the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2001, Modell teamed with Lombardi, Commissioner Pete Rozelle and others to lay the foundation for the league’s success.

SEAHAWKS: James Carpenter is just happy to be back practicing.

The Seattle guard and former Alabama and Hephzibah standout has been cleared to return to practice and was back at work this week as he gets re-acclimated to playing football once again after a devastating knee injury in practice ended his rookie season.

“I’ve been waiting for 10 months to be back,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter was injured during a relatively benign blocking drill during a practice in mid-November.

He finally began to make strides in his recovery midway through training camp.

“He’s way ahead of schedule. We thought it was going to take another 6-8 weeks to get to this point,” Carroll said.

REPLACEMENT REFS: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he was pleased with Wednesday night’s season opener, the first time the league has used replacement referees in a regular-season game since the first week of the 2001 season.

“I think our officials did a more than adequate job last night and I think that we’ve proven that we can train them and get them up to NFL standards,” he said.

VIKINGS: Adrian Peterson says he is ready to play in the season opener. The star running back, recovering from a surgically repaired left knee, said Thursday he has “somewhat” of a gut feeling about whether the Vikings will let him suit up on Sunday for the game against Jacksonville.

Peterson didn’t specify whether he’s expecting to play and knows the decision is out of his hands.


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