Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell died at the age of 87 on Thursday morning, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has released a statement offering his condolences to the Modell family and urging fans to remember Modell as a "visionary" (via Daniel Kaplan):
Art Modell's leadership was an important part of the NFL's success during the league's explosive growth during the 1960s and beyond. As the longtime chairman of the league's Broadcast Committee, Art was a visionary who understood the critical role that mass viewing of NFL games on broadcast television could play in growing the league. Art played important roles in many other league matters as a key advisor to Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, and also built championship teams in Cleveland and Baltimore. His skills as an owner and league contributor were matched only by his great sense of humor. Any conversation with Art included laughs. He always left you with a smile on your face. We extend our condolences to John, David and the rest of the Modell family.
Modell purchased the Browns franchise in 1961, but he moved the team to Baltimore in 1996 and left Browns fans bitter. He celebrated a win in Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens in 2000 while Browns fans got the chance to start over with an expansion franchise that arrived in Cleveland in 1999.