CLEVELAND -- Art Modell's most infamous line still echoes from Baltimore in the fall of 1995.
"Frankly, it came down to a simple proposition. I had no choice," he said.
Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek was among a group of council leaders who met with Modell at old Municipal Stadium weeks before the Baltimore deal was announced.
Modell was a millionaire in a billionaire's game.
"Many of us on the inside knew why he was leaving because of what they did to the guy," Polensek said.
He remembers the meeting in Modell's stadium office as the Browns owner described the rickety condition of old Municipal Stadium in desperate need of a costly upgrade he could not afford.
"He pointed at the ceiling and he said when the toilet's flush it's in my office."
Modell said he wanted the same treatment for the Browns that was given to the Indians and the Cavaliers, "No more, no less," Polensek recalled.
"I don't think he wanted to come across as begging," Polensek said. "He couldn't understand why he was getting the short end of the stick."
Polensek said Modell believed he was more involved in the community than other team owners.
According to Polensek, Modell said he was told to wait his turn and the stadium needs would be addressed.
Mayor Mike White and Cuyahoga County Commissioners first worked to pass a sin tax to build a new Gateway stadium for the Indians. Team owner Dick Jacobs threatened a possible move to Florida.
But Polensek said what stuck with Modell was the treatment given the Cavaliers -- a new arena when they already had a decent facility at Richfield.
Polensek said because political leaders and civic leaders did not address Modell's urgent needs, he grabbed the lucrative offer from Baltimore.
"Had it been anyone else, they would have done the same thing."
Polensek said political leaders deserve a share of blame with Modell for how things turned out.
He believes if Modell's concerns were addressed, the city would have a better domed football stadium, perhaps at a different location.
Modell, who owned the Browns from 1961 to 1995, died Thursday morning at the age of 87.