Ravens owner Modell making first trip to big game
Updated: Monday January 15, 2001 9:46 AM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Art Modell, who waited 35 years to get to the Super Bowl, will enjoy the moment with one of his closest friends.
Well, right up until gametime, anyway.
Modell's Baltimore Ravens won the AFC championship Sunday with a 16-3 victory against the Oakland Raiders. They will next face the New York Giants, owned by Wellington Mara, with whom Modell forged a tight relationship over the 40 years that Modell has been an NFL owner.
"He will be my closest friend until 6:18 p.m. two weeks from today," Modell said.
That's Art Modell, who always has a quip handy, regardless of the circumstances.
The situation late Sunday afternoon was a first for Modell, whose Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in 1964 -- beating the Baltimore Colts -- but never reached the Super Bowl.
Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland in 1996, and the Ravens never had a winning season before this year.
"I said in five years we'd be an elite team, and that prediction came true," he said.
Modell's eyes got teary on the podium when he was presented the AFC championship trophy by San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos, another of his close friends from the NFL's "old guard."
"I'm happy, very happy," Modell said in the Ravens' locker room. "I'm happy for the players, their families and above all, the fans of Baltimore."
And the Ravens are absolutely delighted for Modell, 75, who last year signed a contract that will almost certainly end his tenure as the principal owner of the Ravens in 2004.
That's when new minority investor Stephen J. Bisciotti can exercise an option to buy the final 51 percent of the franchise. So the clock was ticking on Modell's shot at a Super Bowl, and Ravens coach Brian Billick delivered the coveted trip by guiding the team through a dream season.
"The most overwhelming thing for my team and this organization is to be able to stand on that stage with Mr. Modell," Billick said. "To be able to provide this special moment for the Modell family extends beyond any emotion I could express to you all."