Steelers fans set to turn wrath on Ravens Modell says comments about 'menacing' crowds at Three Rivers overblown

September 07, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Chuck Finder contributed to this article.

Ravens owner Art Modell says he can't understand the controversy in Pittsburgh over his recent comments about the city and its football fans.

Modell was asked two weeks ago if an anticipated hostile reception would play a part in his decision to attend tomorrow's game against the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.

"Pittsburgh was hostile long before we moved from Cleveland," Modell said. "It was always a frightening adventure to go down there. It's a hard-drinking, menacing crowd. It's been ugly for over 30 years going there."

Modell's comments ticked off the city and even an old family friend, Steelers president Dan Rooney, who was one of just two owners to vote against the Browns' move from Cleveland.

But yesterday Modell said the issue was overblown.

"I'm not about to provide fuel for a bulletin board," he said. "All home crowds are menacing. They don't sit on their hands. I compare the people in Pittsburgh to the fans in Cleveland or Denver, or Baltimore. Pittsburgh fans are no more menacing than Browns fans were when they [Steelers] would come to Cleveland.

"I'd rank Pittsburgh No. 1, Denver No. 2, Kansas City No. 3 and on down the line. They all have intimidating levels of noise. All road crowds are tough. You don't have to be a genius to figure that one out."

Modell said he will find out today from his doctor whether he is fit enough to travel to Pittsburgh. As of last night, he sounded as if he would stay home.

And that's just fine with Pittsburghers.

"Good," said Steelers tight end Jonathan Hayes, a native of the city's Bridgeville suburb. "Let him stay home."

Angelo Lamatric, owner of the Clark Bar & Grill across from the stadium, said: "Now, you think it's safe for Art to come? Not if Cleveland fans see him . . .

"Oh, there'll be a lot of Cleveland people here," Hayes added. "I'm sure of that."

Joe Chiodo, owner of Chiodo's Tavern and a Steelers season-ticket holder for 45 years, summed up the city's feelings.

"I'll tell you what you can tell Art Modell," he said. "You can clean manure. You can scrub manure. But he still comes out manure."

Tomorrow's game

Ravens (1-0) vs. Steelers (0-1)

Site: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WLIF (101.9 FM), WJFK (1300 AM)

Line: Steelers by 4

Ravens schedule

.. .. .. .. .. Time/

Date Opponent Results

Sept. 1 Oakland W, 19-14

Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh 1 p.m.

Sept. 15 at Houston 1 p.m.

Sept. 22 Bye week

Sept. 29 New Orleans 1 p.m.

Oct. 6 New England 1 p.m.

Oct. 13 at Indianapolis 8 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Denver 4 p.m.

Oct. 27 St. Louis 1 p.m.

Nov. 3 Cincinnati 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Jacksonville 4 p.m.

Nov. 17 at San Fran. 4 p.m.

Nov. 24 Jacksonville 1 p.m.

Dec. 1 Pittsburgh 1 p.m.

Dec. 8 at Cincinnati 1 p.m.

Dec. 15 at Carolina 1 p.m.

Dec. 22 Houston 1 p.m.

Pub Date: 9/07/96

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