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A celebration denied

Cleveland seethes as 'traitor' Modell wins Super Bowl

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Posted: Sunday January 28, 2001 10:38 PM

  Art Modell Art Modell yanked the Browns out of Cleveland in 1995, and now has a Super Bowl title. AP

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Art Modell finally won a Super Bowl when his Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants, but it earned him more enmity in his former hometown.

The owner of the Ravens, a team known as the Cleveland Browns until Modell moved the club to Baltimore in 1995, was labeled a traitor and crybaby Sunday night by fans in Cleveland.

Modell's name is guaranteed to light up the phone lines on radio talk shows in Cleveland, where the Browns never made it to the Super Bowl.

Henry Casey, 38, said Modell betrayed Cleveland.

"I don't think he should have ever moved the old Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. It made everyone feel down," he said.

Football returned to Cleveland in 1999 with an expansion Browns club that went 5-27 in two seasons and just fired coach Chris Palmer.

With Cleveland bundled up against a 25-degree night, outward signs of anti-Modell feelings were hard to find during the Super Bowl. Nightclub crowds were sparse in the Flats, where barstools and street parking spaces were available, a rarity.

Still, the fans were willing to vent if given the chance.

"I thought Art really cheated Cleveland," said Ken Thomas, 39, of suburban Parma, as he emerged from a bar after watching the Ravens take a 10-0 halftime lead.

"That is our team. He's a traitor. I really feel he's a traitor. It really hurts to see them even winning at halftime," Thomas said.

Modell acknowledged the years of support of Clevelanders two weeks ago when the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl. When asked after Sunday's 34-7 win what he had to say to the people of Baltimore and Cleveland, Modell stuck to thanking his family and staff.

Of course, not everyone in Cleveland dislikes Modell.

Rob Dintaman, 28, of Parma, working as a nightclub security guard, was mellow on the Modell issue. "I don't feel that bad about it," he said.

Do his buddies feel the same way? "Split down the middle, surprising, same way," said Dintaman, who was complimentary of the Ravens fans in the club. "They've actually behaved themselves."


 
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