I grew up in the Baltimore metro area. Not in the city, so I can’t say I’m “from Baltimore”, not really, but close enough that Baltimore was the city I identified with growing up. I will always have an affection for the place. I grew up watching Orioles games and my favorite player ever, Cal Ripken Jr. I think the Baltimore Oriole is still the classiest looking bird on the planet. I loved and still love the city. I still love the Orioles, even though I haven’t cared about Baseball for over 10 years. Sometimes I actively wonder how my favorite sports team on the planet is from another city that I don’t even care about that much. I hate every NY sports team in existence (Except maybe the Islanders, who I just pity. Death to the Yankees), but my favorite team ever is the Giants. I have to blame my dad for that I guess. He’s a dirty Italian New Yorker.

I guess football as a child was different for me. I was born after the Colts left to the aforementioned New Yorker and a bitter Colts fan. Mom adopted the Giants and before the Ravens came into being I was a dedicated Giants fan. When the Ravens first came to town, I was pretty excited. My city would have a team again? That’s cool! I even got to meet Vinny Testaverde because his kid went to my elementary school and he stayed to sign autographs. I waited in line for over an hour. I took a tour of Ravens stadium, then called PSInet stadium.

But I never really latched on that hard. I already had a team, and while I liked and rooted for the Ravens, they couldn’t supplant my team. I was more into the O’s anyway. Another reason why was because my Mom didn’t like the way Baltimore had gained the team. I wouldn’t understand her sentiment till years later. I stopped liking the Ravens when they beat us in the super bowl and I got mercilessly teased for my fandom later. When your an adult, trash talk is easy to laugh at. When you’re a kid, it hurts a lot more. I was living in the city of the team that beat mine. It sucks. You can’t bring up football without everyone jumping on you. I don’t hold a grudge against those fans, but it turned me off the Ravens for a bit.

The slow, dawning realization of how the Ravens came to be turned me off forever.

I got more into football at the end of high school/early college. 2004-2005 or so. Around the dawning of Eli’s tenure. As I got more into it, I studied the history, fascinated by it. I started looking into what happened to the Cleveland Browns. I knew what happened to the Colts. Irsay wanted a new Stadium, Baltimore wouldn’t build it, so he snuck the team out behind everyone’s back. Dick move supreme. Every older Baltimore fan hates Indianapolis and the Colts with a passion. What turns me off being a Ravens fan is how they all reacted to getting the Browns. What happened to Cleveland was just the same, if not worse, than what had happened to Baltimore.

Baltimore fans, old and young, seem to think that it was the football gods fixing a divine injustice. Giving Baltimore a team back when they had one so tearfully stolen. And besides, it wasn’t so bad for Cleveland. They got to keep the name rights and history. Baltimore didn’t get to keep the Colts history. Cleveland would only be without Football for 3 years. Baltimore had to wait far longer. Baltimore viewed Art Modell as a hero.

Art Modell was a shithead.

I think what happened to Cleveland in ’95 was worse. Modell started out controversially. He fired the legendary coach of the Browns, Paul ¬†Brown. The guy the team is friggin named after. This so pissed off Brown that he helped found the Bengals, which his family line still owns. Think about that. The only team in Ohio to now have a connection to Paul Brown is not the Browns. But that’s largely irrelevant to the move. I just wanted to give a little “Modell started out as a shithead” backstory.

Modell was a talented promoter and marketer, but a questionable egotistical businessman. He owned Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and earned all the revenue from it. The stadium was shared by the Browns and Indians. The Indians generated a lot of the stadium revenue, but Modell wouldn’t share it with the baseball franchise. He took it for his stadium company. Then, the Indians moved out. Modell foolishly thought he would be fine, but losing the Indian’s revenue was sinking him.

He tried to get the city to sign off on refurbishments, using relocation as a threat, to get the Browns back in business. Cleveland…said yes.

But in secret, Modell kept pursuing a way out. The City wanted to keep the Browns, and Modell still tore them out. The reason Cleveland got to keep the history and name of The Browns? because they sued the daylights out of Modell, and fought as hard as they could to keep them. Fought and lost. This is why I think it was worse than the Colts leaving. Cleveland had the team ripped out of their hands. The team moved because Modell wanted out. Not because they couldn’t or wouldn’t fix up the stadium, not because of lack of support, but because the owner was too greedy to just sell the team and get out. What happened to Baltimore was terrible. What happened to Cleveland was worse. Not much worse, but worse.

Modell was literally forced by the NFL several years later to sell the team to Steve Bisciotti because he was still a bad businessman. So really, it didn’t even save him. There is far more in depth reading around, if you are willing to prod for it. The things Modell did to screw over the city is astonishing. Art Modell was not a hero. He was a shithead. I am not saying Ravens fans should stop rooting for the Ravens, or even necessarily to be ashamed. By all means, the Ravens are now your team, Baltimore. You should be proud of them. I love football in Baltimore. I love how passionate the city gets about it. The Ravens are now a Baltimore institution. I may never support the Ravens, but I’m glad that they exist. I just wish they existed for different reasons.

I just want every Baltimore fan to understand why they have a team. To understand that at the very end, they have a team because a shithead was a shithead. Art Modell is not a great man. He did not save Baltimore. He did not right any “wrongs”. He cared about Baltimore just as much as he cared about Cleveland. He moved the team because Baltimore had the best offer. He was just a greedy shithead.

I hope he never makes the Hall of Fame.

Also, I want to stress I’m not speaking about every Ravens fan. Plenty know everything, and plenty are good fans. The fans I have an issue with are largely the younger generation, my age. These fans (again, not everyone) tend to be the ones I see using the “It wasn’t as bad for Cleveland as it was for us” argument. I hate it because the people I see using it weren’t alive when the Colts move happened, and were merely kids when the Ravens came. I didn’t understand the move then, and I doubt anyone else my age did either. It seems wrong to belittle a city for being upset about their team moving when we were too young to know the pain of the Colts moving.