Modell gets standing ovation at Ed Block Courage banquet Ewbank is presenter before sellout crowd

March 20, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Art Modell was welcomed to Baltimore last night.

After being besieged by autograph seekers who thanked him for bringing the NFL back to Baltimore, Modell got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 2,000 at the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation Dinner last night.

Modell, who was criticized the past four months from coast to coast for moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, seemed touched by the reception.

"I'm overwhelmed with the response here tonight," Modell said.

"If this is the enthusiasm for NFL football, what's going to happen when we win a few games?" Modell added. "Now it's our job to reward them [fans] for their patience."

Modell said of Baltimore, "When I came into the league [1961], this was probably the greatest town in the NFL."

He mentioned some of the old Colts heroes of the past, including Johnny Unitas, Art Donovan and Lenny Moore, all of whom attended the dinner, and said they "represented some of the greatest years the NFL ever had."

It was a night when Baltimore celebrated its football past former Colts coach Weeb Ewbank, 88, was among the honorary presenters and looked forward to the future.

Modell introduced his wife, Pat, whom he described as "my boss, my mentor," to the crowd along with his son, David, and several members of his staff.

Modell even jokingly referred to the team's long, drawn-out search for a new nickname. He promised to have the name "before our last game in December."

Modell said two weeks ago that the team would have a nickname within two weeks, but has pushed the timetable back. Safety Bennie Thompson, the Browns' award winner, got a big ovation. Thompson overcame injuries that sidelined him for three games last year and a personal tragedy when his ex-wife, Tangie, 29, and 3-year-old son, Devyn, were murdered in a robbery attempt.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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