Lerner friendship fails to sway Modell's vote

December 01, 1993|By Vito Stellino

ROSEMONT,ILL — ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, and his minority partner, Alfred Lerner, left the NFL meeting together yesterday and flew to New York.

Yet Modell told his son, David, to vote against Lerner's bid to bring a team to Baltimore. The Browns were among the 26 teams (of 28) that voted to give Jacksonville, Fla., the expansion team.

When asked why his father voted against his friend, David Modell said: "The thinking was, Art told us to vote for Jacksonville and we did."

David Modell then laughed as he pondered the thought of his father voting against Lerner's bid.

"We don't have the franchise. He has the franchise. It's very simple," David Modell said, explaining why he followed his father's orders.

"He didn't give me a reason. He concurred with the recommendation of the rest of the group,which was for the variety of reasons as explained by the commissioner."

When asked if Lerner was upset, David Modell laughed again and said, "I think he's going to punch Art out."

He added, "Seeing as they flew to New York together . . .," implying that Lerner wasn't upset. Art Modell had said earlier that the two men had "a previous engagement" in New York.

Because Lerner left before the decision was announced, David Modell was asked if Lerner really cared about getting a team.

"I don't think there's any doubt," he said. "He definitely cares, or he wouldn't have done it. . . . He feels very strongly about the Baltimore community, so I don't think he did it with the feeling he was going to lose."

Art Modell and Lerner were unavailable for comment.

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