In the weeks after he testified as a character witness for Ray Lewis in connection with Lewis’ role in a fight that led to the stabbing deaths of two men, Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell received two threatening, racist postcards.
“Hope you have a stroke as you read this,” read one of the postcards in part.
The postcards were among the contents of Modell’s FBI files, which the FBI released this week. Modell, who died Sept. 26, 2012, at the age of 87, was demonized by Cleveland Brown fans because of his decision to move the Browns to Baltimore in 1995. But his FBI file, which also contained documentation of a 1975 extortion attempt, contained no death threats from Browns fans.
The 2000 case began when the Ravens office received three anonymous postcards in the mail shortly after Modell testified on behalf of Lewis in Lewis’ bail hearing.
Two were addressed to Modell, then the owner of the Ravens, and another was addressed to a player unidentified by the FBI. Ravens security contacted the Baltimore Police Department and the police contacted the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service. All three postcards were threatening, and the FBI did fingerprint analysis on the postcards.
The first card, laden with racist language, told Modell that his “rushing to Atlanta to serve as a character witness … is a new low even for you.” The postcard, which included violent threats, concluded by wishing Modell “lose every penny of you’re (sic) illgotten (sic) wealth.”
The second card, which used anti-Semitic language to describe Modell, lamented that Hitler was still not alive, and contained similarly threatening language.
“Based on the wording and statements made in the postcards, I believe this to be racially motivated,” the police report on the threat read in part.
Modell and the unidentified player received no further contact after those postcards, according to the FBI. The case was closed on Aug. 29, 2000.
In 1975, according to the FBI files, Modell was advised “of a possible attempt to shake him down regarding some past activity on his part.” Modell advised the FBI he would notify them if he was approached, but Modell apparently was not contacted again, and the case was closed July, 26, 1976.
On Jan. 31, 2000, two men — Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, who had moved to Atlanta from Akron — were killed by vicious stab wounds just hours after Super Bowl XXXIV.
After Modell testified on behalf of Lewis, Lewis made a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice in exchange for testifying against two other defendants. Lewis was sentenced to 12 months probation. No one has ever been convicted in the murders.
Modell, meanwhile, owned the Cleveland Browns from 1961 through 1995 and owned the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 through 2004.