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The Sports Kings: Former Ravens Owner Dead At 87…

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Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell sitting at desk, reflecting on $40 million in debt that may force him to move his football team to Baltimore. (Photo by David Liam Kyle//Time Life Pictures) Getty Images

Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell sitting at desk, reflecting on $40 million in debt that may force him to move his football team to Baltimore. (Photo by David Liam Kyle//Time Life Pictures) Getty Images

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Former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell has died at the age of 87.

The team says Modell died of natural causes early today at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he had been admitted Wednesday.

Modell was among the most important figures in the NFL as owner of the Browns but became a reviled figure in Cleveland after moving the team to Baltimore in 1996.

The Ravens won their lone Super Bowl in January 2001, less than a year after Modell sold a minority interest of the team to Steve Bisciotti. Biscotti purchased the franchise three years later, leaving Modell a 1 percent share.

During his four decades as an NFL owner, Modell helped negotiate the league’s lucrative contracts with television networks, served as president of the NFL from 1967 to 1969, and chaired the negotiations for the first the collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968.

He also was the driving force behind the 1970 contract between the NFL and ABC to televise games on Monday night.

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