The Cleveland Browns franchise and the city of Cleveland both have some complicated connections to NFL visionary Art Modell -- who died of natural causes at the age of 87 on Thursday morning -- but the Browns have promised to recognize Modell's passing during their season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles (quotes via The Plain Dealer):
"We're trying strike the right balance,'' Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said today. "We want to show respect and dignity for Modell's family, the community and the fans.''
It's a difficult dance the franchise will asked to perform on Sunday. Fans are still bitter about Modell's decision to move the team to Baltimore in 1996, but there is no doubt that Modell is still a big part of the history in Cleveland after buying the team in 1961. Browns fans got the chance for a fresh start with an expansion franchise in 1999, but with the Ravens celebrating a Super Bowl victory in 2000 the deep cuts caused by the move have never quite healed.