I'd like to believe that Art Modell was a good man who made a big mistake.
It may seem like we're letting the man off easy because he's dead, and people always tend to gloss over mistakes when a person dies.
But Modell did good things, and was, according to many, a decent human being, generous almost to a fault.
It even was to the point, after I read of his death, where I thought that I'd forgiven Modell for taking the Browns and moving them to Baltimore in 1996.
But then I read some comments from columnists and others who said Modell was "forced" to move, that Cleveland left him no choice.
It was as if it was 1995 again, and I was 15 years old. The anger boiled over.
Modell wasn't forced to do anything. He chose his checkbook and his pride over doing the right thing, which would have been selling the team and keeping it where it belonged.
He promised he'd never move the team, and broke that promise. He never even bothered to tell the fans how dire his situation was. In the summer before the move, Modell announced a "moratorium" on talks regarding a stadium renovation, and the city barely heard a peep from him until he gave his speech announcing the move.
But this column isn't about anger, it's about separation.
It occurred to me Friday that I didn't want to bash Modell. He did wonderful things in regard to race in the NFL, and was instrumental in the marriage of the league and television.
I don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame, but that's another argument.
The truth is, I have forgiven Modell, but not the move.
I don't hold a grudge against the man, but I do hold one over
what happened. Wish I didn't, but to say otherwise would be dishonest.
But Modell has been out of football for almost a decade now. He had to sell the Ravens, and he was rarely even seen over the last few years.
I hope his final years were peaceful ones for him and his family. He deserved that, and his family doesn't deserve to be assaulted with stories of anger and betrayal.
No one will ever convince me that what Modell did in 1995 was right, and it's been frustrating since to watch the "new" Browns flounder as the Ravens won a Super Bowl and remain among the NFL's elite.
But Modell can't be blamed for that. Decisions by others have led to what the Browns are now.
Today, as the new version of the team begins its 14th season, there is question on how the franchise should handle Modell's death.
The Browns had planned an announcement over the public address system, but the Modell family requested the death not be mentioned.
I understand why it feels that way and its wish should be followed. But the truth is, the death can't be ignored.
Modell is part of the Browns history, for better or worse. He owned the team for more than 30 years, and was the owner for the city's last big-time championship.
Most of the great Browns memories I have came when I was a child, when names like Bernie Kosar, Mike Johnson, Clay Mathews, Frank Minnifield and Kevin Mack seemed like members of an extended family.
Modell was owner then.
He also was an owner whose tenure stretched from Paul Brown to Bill Belichick, from Frank Ryan to Brian Sipe, from Gib Shanley to Casey Coleman.
The Browns may choose to do nothing, but the reality is Modell will be on the minds of many at the Stadium today.
He should be. Even though it ended badly, he was, for a long time, one of us.