If not for Art Modell, you wouldn’t be reading this.
RussellStreetReport.com would not exist and I’d probably be working as a sales executive for some subsidiary of an out-of-town financial institution.
Thankfully Art moved the Browns to Baltimore and the rest is history.
It’s only natural that we as Baltimoreans love Art for he helped to restore part of our city’s heritage. He stitched a gaping wound left by a scoundrel named Robert Irsay.
The memories are many; friendships have grown deeper, grown in numbers or both. The Ravens are clearly the single-most galvanizing force here in The Land of Pleasant Living and Art is the maestro.
And therefore just as we are one with the Ravens we share the same page of support for Art Modell’s enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His humanity, philanthropy, vision and achievement in and around the NFL scream Canton, Ohio.
One of Art’s peers, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is already enshrined and there is one man who sits on the Hall’s voting committee who believes that the late Ravens’ owner is every bit as deserving.
“If Ralph Wilson belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I think he does, then you have to give serious consideration to Art Modell”, explains Scott Garceau from 105.7 The Fan.
“Art’s contributions were significant and comparatively speaking you could make the argument that his resume is even more impressive than Mr. Wilson’s.”
So why isn’t Art in the HOF?
Most would say that his exodus from Cleveland is the glaring blemish on his body of work that prevents his induction and leading the charge in that argument is Tony Grossi.
Last week on Cleveland’s ESPN Radio AM 850, Grossi opined on Modell and his HOF worthiness.
“When you’re a contributor (not a player or coach) you have to do what is good for the league ALL the time to merit induction in the Hall of Fame.”
Then how do you explain Al Davis’ induction Tony?
Are you conveniently overlooking the late Raiders owner’s shenanigans, moves, and threats to move? What about all those trips to the courtroom as a plaintiff against the NFL?
Grind an axe much Tony?
Like many of you I must admit that for years I’ve blamed Grossi for blocking Art’s rightful place in the hallowed hallways of Canton. But is that an accurate placement of blame? Might Grossi simply be a convenient scapegoat?
While listening to Grossi on the Rizz & Hammer Show, I was surprised by the balance and the lack of extreme bias I expected when he discussed Art Modell. That said, I do think Grossi’s loyalties to his city taint his opinion.
“All of the good that Art Modell did in his career, for the city of Cleveland AND for the NFL – and there was plenty of it, was overturned by his one decision to desert the Cleveland Browns’ fans, the generation of fans; the city of Cleveland; to break his [stadium] lease and run for the money in Baltimore, for whatever reason – personal bankruptcy or whatever, that was not the right thing to do.”
We could go round and round on this topic and argue the merits of Art’s worthiness. And I would have done that with Tony Grossi had he joined us a couple years back when we hosted our radio program GAMETIME on ESPN 1300.
But Grossi wanted to promote his book about Art, which of course ended that conversation.
So that brief encounter plus Grossi’s crusade to keep Art out of the HOF placed the former beat writer for the Plain Dealer among my most despised Baltimore nemeses.
Art flat out belongs in the HOF and eventually he will receive his proper due. The tragedy in it all is that the honor will arrive posthumously. And I suppose that makes Grossi a twisted winner.
But is this all on Grossi?
Can one man’s vendetta keep another out of the Hall?
“Some believe that you’re either a Hall of Famer or you’re not. It’s not that simple”, explains Garceau.
“Each year there are 15 finalists and those are paired down to a minimum of four inductees and a maximum of 7 with two of the 7 being senior nominees, the others modern era guys.
“Plus you have to account for other factors. Some on the voting committee believe that contributors should never be inducted at the expense of players. So that impacts voting. And then sometimes a nominee is just simply up against stiff competition and a victim of a numbers game. It took Art Monk 8 years to get in; Shannon [Sharpe], a NFL record holder as a tight end – it took him 2 years. Even J.O. [Jonathan Ogden], a slam-dunk by most accounts for The Hall, is prepared for a miss on his first attempt.
“Sometimes it’s just part of the process.”
Ed DeBartolo operated a model franchise in San Francisco for years and won 5 Super Bowls. He failed to get in on his first attempt while facing other very worthy nominees. Bill Parcells – same thing.
And then you need to consider the proximity of Canton, Ohio to Cleveland. Fifty-one miles separate those towns and one would think that there’s at least some Cleveland influence in the building.
Moreover, let’s assume that Art was inducted while alive. Might the collateral distraction be unfair to the other inductees?
The point is that as much as you or I would like to pin this on Grossi, one vote and one man’s passionate plea is not enough to deny another a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As time goes by perhaps emotional factors influence voters that Art could not inspire while alive. Maybe the ceremony is less awkward with Art missing. Or there may be a change in the voting method for contributors that helps pave the way for Mr. Modell.
The bet here is that he’ll eventually make it into Canton.
Until then, as fans we can sincerely thank him for one less sales executive in the financial services industry and for changing our lives for the better forever.