Ravens players present and past weighed in on the passing of former owner Art Modell.
Linebacker Ray Lewis, who led a vaunted defense to the franchises only Super Bowl championship in 2001, told the Baltimore Sun: "When I was with him yesterday, I prayed with him and shared with him things that a son would say to a father."
Former running back Jamal Lewis and defensive tackle Tony Siragusa took to Twitter to express their feelings about Modell, 87, who died of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
RIP to Art Modell.... It was a great pleasure and a privilege to play under one of the great pioneers of the NFL, Lewis wrote.
To a man that I consider not only a friend but a second father Art Modell you taught me a lot about life and being a man thank u ! RIP! wrote Siragusa.
Torrey Smith, in just his second season with the Ravens, wrote on Twitter: RIP Mr. Art Modell...without his dream I would have never been able to play for this great city...thank you
Added 10th year linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who joined the Ravens in 2008, four years after Modell sold his majority interest in the team: RIP to the late great Art Modell prayers go out to your family and ravens nation for losing a great one.
Kevin Byrne, Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations, had worked for Modell since 1981. He talked to WNST 1570 in Baltimore on Thursday morning about seeing Modell before his passing with Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. He received a call from his son, David:
"David Modell called both Ozzie and I early yesterday morning and said the doctors had said they weren't sure that Art was going to make it through the day. He said you should come and say goodbye to Art so Ozzie and I went down to the hospital. It was special to be there," Byrne said. "Even though Art was in and out of consciousness basically, we're pretty sure he heard us. A couple times he tried to move his lips. I felt privileged to be there and felt privileged to be standing there with Ozzie Newsome.
"I'm not ashamed to say this. Art was like a father for me. ... He loved his players. He loved the game. And he felt a responsibility to give back to the community because they kept you in business. That combination worked for him ... A lot of people don't know this, he's a high school dropout. He dropped out of school when his father died so he could help support his mom and his two sisters. An amazing man who is not afraid of debt, not afraid of borrowing money. Bought the Cleveland Browns for four million dollars in 1961 when he had approximately 25,000 dollars to his name. So he was bold and willing to take chances."