The courtroom became so tense in a battle over free agency in the NFL in the early 1990s that the judge called for a recess and told the team owners and players and their lawyers to take a break and cool off.
Moments later, as I stood in the corridor watching to see whether a fight might break out, an elegantly attired older gentleman with a twinkle in his eye walked up to me and, without a word of introduction, produced a series of the greatest wisecracks I had ever heard. Both of use were soon laughing hysterically and drawing nasty glances from Paul Tagliabue, then the commissioner of the NFL, and Gene Upshaw, the leader of the players' union.
The little gentleman, I learned a few minutes later, was Art Modell, the owner of the then-Cleveland Browns and a man who was dangerously charming. He died early Thursday at age 87.