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Head Coach John Harbaugh visited Art Modell as he lay on his death bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore last night. Harbaugh had a special message for the former Ravens owner. "I told him that we're playing Monday night and that he was going to be there watching the game and we're going to fight for him. And that we're going to play our best football for Art Modell. "
With that, Harbaugh got his biggest response from Modell. "Those eyes, those blue eyes were going right at me like, 'You better, that's what I expect,'" Harbaugh said. "I could only think to myself, 'Yes, sir. '" The Ravens always have a lot to play for, plenty of motivation. With the passing of Modell early Thursday morning, they have that much more. "This season we will definitely dedicate to him and give it everything we got," linebacker said. An iconic image in Ravens history is that of Modell and Lewis hugging on the Tampa Bay field as confetti poured down around them. Lewis said his fondest memory of Modell is from those celebrations, when he delivered the Lombardi trophy to his owner and watched him attempt Lewis' signature dance. "Hopefully, we can sit another Lombardi Trophy beside him," Lewis said. "When you think about Art, what other kind of motivation do you need? If you know anything about him, if you know anything about what he did to this league and what he meant to this organization, why wouldn't you go play for something that special? Because he is watching. He'll always be watching. " The motivation will likely build for the Ravens over the next four days. That's when Baltimore will open the season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, a massive television production that Modell himself pioneered in 1970. Harbaugh called it an amazing twist, providential irony. "Maybe they're laughing about that up there right now," he said.

There will be a tribute for Modell before Monday's game. The Ravens will wear decals with the abbreviation "ABM" on their helmets all season. But will all the Ravens players understand the true meaning of Modell's death, and realize the significance of Monday night's game? Lewis has been with Modell since the franchise's inception in 1996. He, safety and linebacker are the only players still remaining from Modell's days as owner. They tried to explain the importance of Modell to their younger teammates Thursday. Harbaugh encouraged players to do their research. "I think Ray and some of the guys that have been around him will get the message across to a lot of the players on this team," quarterback said. "I just think that this whole organization had a lot of love for him, and I think that will definitely show. " NEW YORK (JTA) Every Sunday during the football season, a group of 30 diehard Jewish Baltimore Ravens fans suit up in purple pants, jerseys, socks, face paint and special Ravens tzitzit to watch the game together. If the game falls on a Saturday, the club gathers for a вpurple Shabbos,в when they wear Ravens jerseys under their suits, eat Ravens-inspired food from a purple menu and go into lockdown mode once the game starts so they don t accidentally discover the final score before they can watch the recorded broadcast post-Sabbath. вYes, weвre all absolute Ravens nuts,в said Noam Heller, a 25-year-old Baltimore native. вWeвre not just casual football fans like some other states. Everyone who knows our crew knows weвre crazy. The group has been reveling in the Ravens together for about five years at the homes of its members. Wives and kids come along now, too. With their beloved squad slated to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, Heller and company no doubt will get even crazier than normal.

The showdown comes just six months after the death of former owner Art Modell, the Jewish Brooklyn native who moved the team to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996. Ravens players dedicated this season to Modell, wearing a patch with вArtв on their jerseys. And even more poignancy:В The Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce whether Modell will be inducted Saturday. вHonestly, Iвm kvelling over this game,в said David Modell, one of the late owner s two sons and a former president and CEO of the Ravens. вIвm not praying for results; Iвm praying for the strength and courage of this team, and the rest will take care of itself. But a Super Bowl victory and a place in the Hall of Fame would be an incredible way to honor my fatherвs memory. в Modell s legacy is something of a touchy subject for football fans. Supporters see him as a brilliant businessman best known for his role in negotiations with the ABC television network leading to the creation of Monday Night Football in 1970, and for his support for community charities in Cleveland and Baltimore. In Cleveland, Modell isn t remembered as fondly. After 34 years as owner of the Browns, Modell took the team to Baltimore in 1996 and renamed them the Ravens. Many Cleveland fans remain bitter over the loss of their team and say it would be wrong to honor Modell with a spot in the Hall of Fame. вI donвt care how much money he gave to either community or how well Baltimore is doing,в said one disgruntled Jewish Clevelander who asked that his name not be published for fear of bad football karma. вArt Modell stole our pride in Cleveland, and stealing in football should not be praised. в Modell wasnвt the type of man who wore his spirituality on his sleeve, but he was a quietly religious and very spiritual Jew David Modell said that many Cleveland fans wrote to him and his brother, John, to offer condolences after their father passed away.

It seemed they forgave Modell, who sold the Ravens in 2004, for abandoning Cleveland and now remember him mainly as a football legend. Although Modell s two sons are Catholic, children from the first marriage of his wife Patricia Breslin, David Modell said his father made sure to teach them the basic Jewish traditions of the religion he loved. вMy father wasnвt the type of man who wore his spirituality on his sleeve, but he was a quietly religious and very spiritual Jew, David said. We knew that he carried around a piece of paper with Godвs name in his pocket every day of his life. Every year he would light memorial candles for his parents death. He always attended temple on High Holidays. And Hanukkah candles were so important to him that my brother in California and I skyped together this year to light candles and recite the prayers. в Modell had a special relationship with football players as well as fans, specifically with Ray Lewis, the Ravens All-Pro linebacker who is retiring at the end of this season. Modell watched his team practice every day and had a father-son relationship with Lewis. Unlike his former boss, Lewis did wear his spirituality on his sleeve or at least on his chest. Following a 24-9 playoff victory over the Colts earlier this month, Lewis removed his game jersey to reveal a T-shirt that read вPsalm 91,в which concludes with the line, With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Heller and his friends responded by getting together for a communal reading of the psalm and to pray on the Ravensв behalf. Weвve loved the Ravens since Art Modell first brought them to Baltimore in 1996, Heller said. We all looked up to him as kids. And this Super Bowl is going to be ours. в

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