Pat Modell bashes Browns fans

She says pre-game behavior was `vulgar and disgusting'

November 10, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

She has seen her husband, Ravens owner Art Modell, vilified since he announced he was moving his team from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1995. But Pat Modell spoke out publicly for the first time yesterday about the behavior of some of his detractors.

Modell's wife called the actions of some of the fans in the parking lots at Cleveland Browns Stadium before Sunday's game against the Ravens "vulgar and disgusting" and criticized Channel 45 for showing some of their behavior on its Sunday night newscast.

Mrs. Modell also said the members of the new Cleveland Browns' organization should have stopped the behavior outside the stadium.

Mrs. Modell spoke from her home in Baltimore on a speaker phone connected to her husband's downtown office, where Modell showed a reporter a tape of the Channel 45 report by newsman Jeff Abell.

The report showed, among other things, dog droppings on top of a sidewalk outline of a figure that was supposed to be Modell. It also showed a woman starting to moon the camera, and the tape included profanity and anti-Modell chants.

"We've been quiet long enough. How could they show that on television?" Pat Modell said. "It was like someone socked me in the stomach. It was so disgusting. It was vulgar, very vulgar. It's demeaning to have to sit and see something like that, especially when it's about you or someone in your family. I'm telling you this as a mother and a wife and someone who believes in integrity and decency."

Modell agreed with his wife, but he declined to comment. He said he'd comment in eight weeks at the end of the season. The Modells didn't attend the game in Cleveland and watched it on television.

Mrs. Modell said the Ravens would not allow another owner to be treated that way outside of their stadium at Camden Yards.

"If anyone connected to Art's organization came to Art and said that was going on, it would be stopped. I know they were kids [in Cleveland], and I know they don't know what the hell they were doing or who they're hurting. But sometimes kids have to be told. It was like a bunch of animals."

A Cleveland team spokesman said that team president Carmen Policy, who said last week he was treated well in Baltimore when the Browns visited Camden Yards in September, was attending a charity fund-raiser and was unavailable for comment.

Mrs. Modell said her 7-year-old grandson called her in tears after seeing the report and hearing his grandfather called a loser, among other things.

"He said, `Poppy, you're not a loser,' " she said.

Joe DeFeo, the news director at Channel 45, said the station had Modell on Friday night to give his views on the game with Cleveland and defended the coverage.

"I stand behind the piece and the coverage," DeFeo said. "I feel we were within the bounds of covering the story and showing what was actually going on and showing what could be showed on TV. We didn't create anything. It wasn't anything new. It showed anti-Raven, anti-Baltimore and anti-Modell sentiment. All three were there."

When he was asked if he thought the segment was vulgar, he said, "I wouldn't go that far. Certainly, the fans in Cleveland aren't happy, but I think a lot of it was just the fans having a good time more than anything else."

DeFeo said the Modells hadn't contacted him to complain about the coverage.

There were virtually no incidents inside the stadium. The Browns do not allow signs in their new stadium, and the fans appeared almost subdued. Once the Ravens, who won 41-9, took control of the game, the majority of the fans left in the second half.

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