From the Publisher
The author is the former executive vice president- treasurer of Cleveland Stadium Corp, a company formed by Browns owner Art Modell, to operate the stadium under a 25-year lease with the City of Cleveland. The book "Fumble !" chronicles the difficulties that went with operating the aging and obsolete city-owned stadium, as the writer describes from the many diaries and transaction summaries which he maintained since 1975. Along with the interesting tales of the conditions of the building and the other interesting events held there, Poplar also weaves in 20 years of Browns football memories under five head coaches........ranging from Forrest Gregg in 1975 through the end of the reign of Bill Belichick in 1996. The book is sure to rekindle fond memories of those exciting Kardiac Kids finishes, and the not-so-memorable climaxes, including the "Drive"and the "Fumble", along with the terminations of those five head coaches.
From the Author
During my tenure as an officer of the company, I saw how the local attitudes toward Modell slowly began taking a turn for the worse during the 1980's.After reigning as one of the top Dawgs in Cleveland for some time, I saw Art Modell slowly losing his grip on Cleveland. Modell's Stadium lease was being blamed in part for the failures of the Cleveland Indians by then-president Gabe Paul, and in some quarters the Browns' president was being accused of not living up to his obligations under the Stadium lease. I also witnessed Modell's victory in a lawsuit over a minority shareholder of the Cleveland Browns be overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court in 1986, and the profound effect that loss had on him. When City officials then rejected his plan to make yet further improvements to the Stadium at his own cost, Modell began to seriously ponder his future in the city and that of his Cleveland Browns.
Amidst all this growing criticism, Modell tried even harder to field a winner. With the advent of free agency in the NFL in 1993, the team maximized its spending on available players, hoping to hit the right combination to provide the victories to get the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl. But the costs were mounting faster than the victories, and eventually all Art Modell could say when asked why he was moving the team to Baltimore, was "I had no choice."
Many of my friends asked me what Art Modell meant when he made that statement. There was no further explanation ever offered to go along with those words. That is what prompted me begin the process of writing this book It was written for those Browns fans who really want to know more about why this NFL team said it could no longer stay in Cleveland.