BALTIMORE (WUSA/AP) - Former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell died Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 87.
His son and former Ravens president David Modell issued this statement on the Ravens website Thursday morning:
"Sadly, I can confirm that my father died peacefully of natural causes at 4 a.m. this morning. My brother John Modell and I were with him when he finally rejoined the absolute love of his life, my mother Pat Modell, who passed away last October.
"'Poppy' was a special man who was loved by his sons, his daughter-in-law Michel, and his six grandchildren. Moreover, he was adored by the entire Baltimore community for his kindness and generosity. And, he loved Baltimore. He made an important and indelible contribution to the lives of his children, grandchildren and his entire community. We will miss him."
Modell was the owner of the Cleveland Browns, which became the Ravens after he took the team to Baltimore in 1996.
During his four decades as an NFL owner, Modell helped negotiate the NFL's lucrative contracts with television networks, served as president of the NFL from 1967 to 1969, and chaired the negotiations for the first the collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968.
He also was the driving force behind the 1970 contract between the NFL and ABC to televise games on Monday night.
FACTS ABOUT MODELL: Read About Him From the Baltimore Ravens
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley released the following statement:
"Baltimore and the State of Maryland mourn the loss today of former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.
"Respected by his players and beloved by his family and Baltimore football fans, Art brought the game and spirit of football back to Baltimore. He helped reinvigorate Baltimoreans' sense of pride in their team and their City. As we prepare for another exciting season of Ravens football and Purple Fridays, let us all take a moment to remember Art and his family in our thoughts and prayers."