Before Art Modell was Cleveland's public enemy number one, he was the owner and architect of one of the best teams in football. In 1961, Modell purchased the Browns for $4 million. Three years later (and after a well-publicized rift with legendary coach Paul Brown), Modell’s Browns were at the top of the mountain, winning the NFL Championship 27-0 against the Baltimore Colts on Dec. 27, 1964.
A year later, Modell and the Browns once again were on the cusp of history. With Jim Brown, Frank Ryan and Gary Collins lighting up defenses across the league, the Browns finished the regular season 11-3.
In this undated photo, Modell holds court at a late-December practice in 1965. After clinching the Eastern Conference title at the beginning of December, the Browns rested most of their starters in the their last two games — a 42-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and a 27-24 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Even with well-rested starters, the Browns lost 23-12 to the Green Bay Packers in the final NFL Championship. The Browns failed to recapture their magic in 1966, going 9-5 due in large part to the sudden retirement of Jim Brown. Modell owned the Browns until 1995, when he abruptly announced he’d be moving the team to Baltimore, a decision that forever condemned him in Cleveland. Modell, who owned the Ravens until 2004, died in 2012 in Baltimore