David Modell, the former president of the Baltimore Ravens, died Friday afternoon after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 56.
Modell played an instrumental role in the success of the Ravens after his father, Art Modell, made the controversial move to relocate the franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore.
David Modell was involved in multiple facets of the organization from its inception in 1996. He helped in the design of the team's logo, colors and uniforms
The younger Modell also spearheaded a campaign to hire the team's first head coach and presided over the opening of M&T Bank Stadium in 1998.
In 1999, Art Modell announced his retirement and named his son as the team president and chief operating officer.
"I've known David since 1978 and, in many ways, we became like brothers," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We both grew up with the Browns and became Ravens together. We shared thoughts beyond the business of football. Life, family, children, politics, religion -- we touched it all. You can trace much of the good of this franchise back to David. His passing shakes me."
Brian Billick was named the franchise's second head coach in 1999 and promptly guided Baltimore to a Super Bowl championship in his second season. That team featured an elite defense led by All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis.
"We have lost an incredible man, and incredible father, brother and son," Lewis said. "He had a way of making everyone around him feel special, which was such a gift. I feel truly blessed to have known him, and I will miss my brother greatly."
Modell resigned as team president in 2004 after his father sold the team to Steve Bisciotti, but remained with the organization in a consulting role.
"Much of what the Ravens are today can be traced to David and what he directed and established," Bisciotti said. "But, above all, he was a sweet, kind man who helped me when I was first involved. I smile remembering what we shared and what my friend David offered. He was fun, smart and giving. Renee and I send our love and prayers to Michel and all of his children."