By TONY GROSSI
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER
Art Modell's legacy in the NFL has been altered by what he has done to Cleveland's football fans.
That's the opinion of Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the NFL.
"I think it has. I think there's no denying it," Tagliabue said yesterday during a briefing with area sports media in City Hall.
Modell's involvement in NFL matters, particularly his roll in helping to negotiate $8.4 billion in television revenue since 1962, was a source of pride for him. Modell's contributions to the league, in fact, made him one of the few nonplayers and noncoaches to be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But his decision to abandon the fans of Cleveland and move his team to Baltimore will cause historians to reconsider Modell's status, Tagliabue said.
"I think Art Modell made a tremendous contribution to the league in 35 years, and to this Cleveland Browns franchise," Tagliabue said. "And that's going to be dramatically reassessed by people in the future as a result of his taking his franchise -- not the Browns franchise, but his individual franchise -- to Baltimore.
"Beyond that, time will tell."
Yesterday proved to be good day for former Browns guard Bob Dahl, who signed a three-year contract with the Washington Redskins. The contract is worth approximately $6 million.
Dahl, a Chagrin Falls native, started 56 games for the Browns the last four seasons. Modell's organization released Dahl last month rather than commit to a $500,000 roster bonus contained in his old contract.
Dahl's new deal includes a $1.8 million signing bonus and a 1996 base salary of about $1.1 million.
"Bob considered it a great privilege and honor to play for his hometown team," said Neil Cornrich, Dahl's Cleveland-based agent. However, once the team left, he considered it fortunate to be able to test the free-agent market. The market rewarded him.
"Bob's criteria were to go to an organization with quality coaches, quality front office and a quality owner. The Redskins meet those criteria."