BALTIMORE - Just 12 hours removed from kicking off a new season, Ravens players like Joe Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and Ray Rice traveled to the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation on Park Heights Avenue to pay tribute to the man who brought football back to Baltimore.
Art Modell changed the game and the men who played it.
"There is no Jim Brown without Mr. Modell's vision. There's no Baltimore Ravens without Mr. Modell's vision," said Lewis, "So the question he leaves us today is, if you did nothing else in life, what will you fight for? What legacy will you leave?"
A former NFL president and Ravens owner, Modell helped the league break new ground recognizing the players' right to unionize, helping to merge two leagues into one and pushing for a high-profile game each Monday evening that would push the game's popularity to new heights.
"He had so many great accomplishments. It would be easy to claim he was my hero on the basis on of those alone, but… you also know... his kindness, his sense of humor, his gentlemanliness were best exemplified in the smaller moments and were shown in his exemplary life. He was a consummate gentleman."
"It's appropriate that last night here in Baltimore, the Ravens hosted Monday Night Football-one of the great success stories in television history," said Goodell, "Art and Pete Rozelle created Monday Night Football."
In Modell's final days, his son, David, says he was moved by evidence of his father's impact on the team that he moved here.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti rushed to his bedside, soon to be followed by a host of others
"John Harbaugh, fresh off the practice field, with Ray and Ed and Halodi and T-Sizz came down to visit Poppy, and here are these larger than life, giant athletes... these men who defend the flag of Baltimore and the flag of the Ravens were on their knees with my father at his bedside with tears streaming down their faces and for that we are extremely grateful."