NFL notes: Ex-Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell dies

NFL notes • League pioneer's legacy tied to franchise's move.
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Art Modell's fingerprints can still be found all over the NFL.

In Baltimore. In Cleveland. On Monday night football. On past labor agreements.

Along with colleagues named Rozelle, Halas, Brown and Rooney — all pillars of a fledgling league — Modell helped transform the NFL into America's pre-eminent sport.

The former Ravens owner died early Thursday, leaving behind a legacy that was unblemished save for one decision that hounded him the rest of his life: moving his team from Cleveland to Baltimore.

David Modell said he and his brother, John, were at their father's side when he "died peacefully of natural causes." He was 87.

"The game of football lost one of its all-time greats," Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr. said. "… I believe that Art did as much as any owner to help make the NFL what it is today."

Modell spent 43 years as an NFL owner, overseeing the Browns from 1961 until he moved the team to Baltimore in 1996. He served as league president from 1967-69, helped finalize the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968 and was the point man for the NFL's lucrative contracts with television networks.

But Modell's reputation took a hit from which it could not recover when he pulled the Browns out of Cleveland. The move was made not because of poor attendance in Cleveland, but because Baltimore provided him with a better business opportunity.

Judge considers collusion lawsuit

The federal judge who oversaw NFL labor matters for almost two decades is considering a lawsuit brought by the NFL Players Association that accuses the league of collusion.

The players claim the NFL conspired to hold down salaries in 2010 with a secret salary cap.

An attorney for each side argued before U.S. District Judge David Doty on Thursday in Minnesota. Doty took the case under advisement, without promising when he'd decide but acknowledging he's not in a rush.

"We're not going to stop any games from being played or anything like that," Doty said. —

Week 1 schedule

Wednesday's game

Dallas 24, N.Y. Giants 17

Sunday's games

Indianapolis at Chicago, 11 a.m.

Jacksonville at Minnesota, 11 a.m.

Miami at Houston, 11 a.m.

New England at Tennessee, 11 a.m., Ch. 2

Washington at New Orleans, 11 a.m., Ch. 13

Atlanta at Kansas City, 11 a.m.

Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m.

St. Louis at Detroit, 11 a.m.

Philadelphia at Cleveland, 11 a.m.

Seattle at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.

San Francisco at Green Bay, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13

Carolina at Tampa Bay, 2:25 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Denver, 6:20 p.m., Ch. 5

Monday's games

Cincinnati at Baltimore, 5 p.m., ESPN

San Diego at Oakland, 8:15 p.m., ESPN