The next season, when the Ravens visited Cleveland for the first time, the Modells opted not to travel with the team. But outside the stadium, Cleveland fans merrily urged their dogs to defecate on a chalk outline of Modell.
Modell's public statements suggested he did not expect to be forgiven. When NBA superstar LeBron James fled Cleveland for Miami in 2010, some wondered whether he had supplanted Modell as the city's chief sports villain. But Modell told several media outlets he would remain the most hated.
His departure from Cleveland was not a perfect replica of Irsay's flight from Baltimore. As part of its settlement with the longtime owner, Cleveland got to keep the Browns name and uniforms. The city was without an NFL team for three seasons compared with 12 for Baltimore.
None of that dulls the pain, of course. And it hasn't helped that the resurrected Browns have posted only two winning records in 13 seasons. The Ravens have won a Super Bowl and made the playoffs eight times in that span.
"It was hard to watch him with the Lombardi Trophy," Wood said of Modell. "Not to take out the violin, but that's what happens to us. People leave Cleveland and then they win."
Wood said he took no joy from Modell's death. But he's not thrilled that Modell could one day be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio.
"Let Baltimore have him; don't shove it in our faces," he said. "I think Cleveland fans are just happy to be done with this."
Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Preston contributed to this article. Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts