The sad death today of former Baltimore Ravens executive David Modell at the age of 55 brought a number of thoughts rushing to my mind.
I met him a few times and was very much charmed by his personality. He was a genuinely nice, funny man whose one goal in the day was to help the Ravens become a championship football team after their move to town from Cleveland in 1996.
His father, the late Art Modell, the team owner, is someone I had the pleasure of interviewing a few times. Now naturally, I followed him because he was Jewish – he adopted David after marrying his mother – but I’ve always felt that the Ravens are run much like a good, old-fashioned Jewish family business.
Treat people right, pay them well, give them respect, and you’ll get the most out of them that’s possible. I know — I’ve done game day work for the Ravens for 21 years, and when I went through a battle with chemotherapy in recent months and told them the situation, they stunned me out of the blue with a gift of a beautiful golf shirt.
Just to send me a message. And people from the team came up to me at all home games to ask how I was feeling. It amazed and touched me.
That’s the way the Ravens do what they do. It’s why they’re so popular in this town. They remind me now of the way the Colts were when they played here while I was growing up in the ’70s.
But David Modell had a big role behind the scenes in all of that. Look at any story written about him in the coming days, and the details are stunning. This man did so much while still associated with the team.
What I’ll always remember, though, is the way I saw him treat people. David Modell would talk to anyone at any time. He greeted fans, reporters and whoever in a nice manner and always with a smile on the face. The fans and Modell loved the same thing – the Ravens. And they all loved the way that big shot treated them.
It’s why he’ll sorely be missed.
Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.
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