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Fumble : The Browns, Modell, & the Move Hardcover – October 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Cleveland Landmarks Pr (October 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936760117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936760117
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,483,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Author Poplar gives an insider's view of the financial crisis that caused American's Team, the Cleveland Browns, to move to Baltimore. It shows how Modell's formation of the Cleveland Stadium Corp. caused him to take out millions of dollars in loans to pay for stadium upkeep and upgrades. Then the city/county gave the Indians and Cavs multi-million-dollar playpens, while leaving Modell to find ways to compensate for the loss of Stadium Corp.'s major tenant, the Indians. This resulted in even more loans. Then came free agency, and Modell had to go to the banks again to get cash to pay big bonuses to stay competitive. From his perspective, maybe Modell eventually "had no choice" to move. However, he is not absolved from his most tragic mistake: not being forthright with the fans and the public about his financial straights and asking for help. A good read for Browns fans who want to know more about what happened to their heritage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frenchie on December 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What nerve! I was going to buy this book in July 2012-yes 2012! It was under 20.00 new and there were used copies for 2-7.00.
Model dies and suddenly it costs 250.00! Insane.
Hope the family of the author still gets royalties.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "the_floater" on May 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Though this book tended to get off track, was not tied together all that well and at times bogged down by numbers, it was a very interesting read and offered a lot of insight of how Modell lost control of his organization.
We learn that Modell depended too much on his image in the eyes of others and what ultimatelty lead to the teams demise on Cleveland. By taking on the dual roles of managing the Browns and StadiumCorp in the 70's, Modell eventually fell under a disadvantage as cities begin to pony up sweetheart deals for new stadiums. But the book outlines that most of his lack of success with Cleveland politicians and the business community was HIS OWN FAULT because he did not want to lose face or stature with them. The book outlines that although Modell was a crafty businessman, his own downfall was mixing the preservation of his own image into his business dealing for a new stadium. And as the Indians left as a tenant and eventually rose to prominence, he could not attract the same support because of new image of protecting his own self-worth and perceived greediness.
After relocating to Boston in late nineties, my disdain for Belicheck only grew more, but after this read you begin to see that other external forces that Modell entrusted ultimately came back to hurt the Browns the most. Personal finances, non-football people running the show (Bailey & Lombardi), and Modell's losing gambles chasing that one last dream of a Super Bowl while getting further in debt are what stole our team from Cleveland.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frank M. Henkel on November 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the most interesting books that I've ever read. Poplar's inside info on the move of the Browns will keep any reader turning the pages as fast as they can! A must for any Browns fan, I believe Poplar didn't pull any punches, and told the readers what he really thought, even if it was something they didn't want to 'hear'.

The photos he selected were relevent to the text, and the cover design is outstanding. I'd probably rate the 'readability' a 4.5 if there was a rating. Some of the book is a tale told by an accountant, and some of the figures and background info he presents is hard to get through, but it's well worth your time by the end of the book, so don't skip it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm appreciative that the author Mike Popular (a CPA) took the time to write the book. The book probably would have been more interesting if written by a journalist. The book is a slow read and at times boring as there is so much financial detail, and I was a finance major in college so I'm use to numbers. That said, the author did a commendable job given that it was his first time in such an endeavor.

Art Modell made a lot of mistakes buying and operating the Browns throughout the years, but what sports league owner hasn't. It's just that the majority of them keep their ineptness secret because there's never a book published about them.

Art overpaid for the Browns in 1961. His bid was $800,000 ($4MM vs. $3.2MM) higher than the next highest bid probably because he wanted so badly to buy the Browns. That's a lot of money especially 45 years ago. Art's second mistake, although he probably didn't have an choice given his financial condition, was to take in partners especially a major minority investor (43%). Third, Art didn't follow his own cardinal rule of not letting lawyers run his business. Jim Bailey, who ran the team in the later years in Cleveland, was an attorney who possessed neither the necessary experience or skills to run a major sports franchise.

Besides the above critical mistakes Art was the defendent in several lawsuits. Three involved his 43% minority investor (ultimately lost) and one with Gabe Paul. The one's with the minority investor cost Art several seasons' profit.

Art was a actually a very decent and civic minded human being albeit with character flaws, but don't we all have certain limitations. Art was actually very astute at marketing, but was probably too involved in too many Cleveland civic projects.
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