Art Modell’s induction to Hall Of Fame would be storybook ending


The Baltimore Ravens will make their second appearance in the Super Bowl after defeating the Patriots 28-13 last night in Foxborough.

Catching the Lamar Hunt Trophy presentation, I was proud and honored that the Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and several Ravens players made mention of former Ravens owner Art Modell. Linebacker Ray Lewis, who had a very close relationship with Art, celebrated wearing a shirt with his picture on the front.

Modell  passed away just before the start of the season at the age of 87 and the Ravens continue to celebrate his life. After his passing the team honored the Modell family by wearing black patches on their jerseys with the name of Art over their hearts as well  as placing a patch on the field at M&T Bank Stadium.

Shortly after the Ravens defeated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, Modell passed on the day to day operations to his son David. In 2003, Modell sold the Ravens to minority owner, Maryland businessman Steve Bisciotti. Under the deal, Modell retained a small interest (approximately 1% share) in the Ravens.

The Ravens’ regular season record during Modell’s tenure as team owner stands at 72–63.

To celebrate the Ravens trip to the Super Bowl this year, it truly would be fitting for Art to be selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the eve of the big game.

8 Raves on “Art Modell’s induction to Hall Of Fame would be storybook ending

  1. Bmore Finest on said:

    i’m so feeling that. I was hoping, beat N.E, and ART we take his place in the HALL. Beat Kraft at home, which been great til We choked them. And The Man, who give birth to the Baltimore Ravens, And Raven Nation, He will finally get in with of course, his other First Drafted Raven J Odgen. We loved you Art, and thank you for the Mighty Baltimore Ravens.

  2. Honest about his legacy on said:

    by Toni Grossi
    The Cleveland Plain Dealer

    Officials of the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognized the debate over Art
    Modell`s nomination last week would be a controversial one, so voters were reminded repeatedly that opinions expressed in the meeting room were confidential.

    Nothing said in the meeting is supposed to leave the room. Confidentiality promotes an honest and thorough discussion of each nominee`s credentials.

    `We consider this procedure to be perhaps the most important aspect of our entire process,` states a special letter that was sent to each selector prior to the meeting in New Orleans on Saturday.

    Because The Plain Dealer honored the confidentiality agreement, editors chose not to disclose the fact that I was the only voter to speak against
    Modell`s nomination in the meeting.

    But then the details were leaked to the Baltimore Sun, and the resulting story wasn`t completely accurate. So, we believe it`s time to set the record straight.

    With pleasure.

    A little background: A week earlier, I received a call from John Wooten, the former Browns guard and former Ravens scout, who tried to convince me
    Modell was deserving of induction into the Hall.

    `What do you say to a native Clevelander?` I asked Wooten.

    I felt then and still do now that as a native Clevelander representing the area on the Hall of Fame selection committee, it was my duty to educate the committee on the total Modell story. It was my duty not as a denizen of the Dawg Pound, but as someone who had knowledge of Modell`s place in NFL and Cleveland sports history.

    Wooten, a good man, went on a lengthy discourse about how much he loved
    Cleveland, but he never quite addressed the question.

    Last Wednesday in New Orleans, I received a call from Ozzie Newsome, the
    Hall of Fame Browns tight end, architect of the Ravens championship team, and a friend. He wanted me to hear his feelings about Modell`s credentials and his move.

    After listening, I said: `I will not vote for Art. I will talk against him in the meeting. I feel it`s my responsibility as a native Clevelander to do that. But I will not politick or campaign against him prior to the meeting.`

    Newsome said: `I appreciate your honesty. That`s all I can ask for.`

    Campaigning does take place on occasion prior to the meeting, and it can do more harm than good. The Ravens took it to the extreme in the week prior to the vote.

    Kevin Byrne, the Baltimore Ravens` public relations director, sent all voters – except me – a packet of information that included his perspective of Modell`s move and a copy of a pro-Modell perspective written that week by a Baltimore columnist. Wooten phoned several, if not all, of the voters. Even coach Brian Billick made a few calls to friends who were voters.

    In the meeting, the discussion on each candidate is initiated by the representative of the city in which the candidate spent the majority of his career. In Modell`s case, that assignment fell to me.

    At the appropriate time, I stood and announced: `I will not endorse Modell`s nomination here today. However, in the interest of fairness to this process and to Modell, I feel those that do support him should speak first.`

    Six voters stood and talked on behalf of Modell. One by one, they spoke of Modell`s contributions to the league – his 31 years as chairman of the NFL broadcast committee, his role in promoting the NFL-AFL merger by agreeing to move his team to the new AFC, his unwavering support of former Commissioner Pete Rozelle during difficult times. One supporter credited Modell with pioneering `Monday Night Football.`

    On the issue of moving the Browns, Modell`s supporters argued that Al
    Davis moved the Raiders – two times – `and he`s in the Hall of Fame.` Another made the case that Modell deserves credit for all the new stadiums built in NFL cities – out of fear of losing their team as Cleveland did.

    When it came time for me to speak, I was glad my comments were prepared in text form. It was stressful and emotional, but I did not break down, as the Sun reported.

    `Let`s take a closer look at Art Modell`s record,` I began. `He fired Paul Brown, he traded Paul Warfield, he released Bernie Kosar in the middle of a season with his team in first place. In his last 21 years in Cleveland, his teams were 13 games under .500. Then he capped it all off by moving the Cleveland Browns out of Cleveland.`

    I pointed out that to merit the Hall of Fame, a `contributor` has to put the good of the league ahead of his own good – all the time. And when he secretly signed a deal to move the Browns to Baltimore to ensure his team
    would remain in his family`s control, Modell put his self-interests ahead
    of the league`s.

    Contrary to his plea of `I had no choice,` Modell had two other choices. He could have come clean and clearly stated his financial plight and said he would move if he did not get a new stadium. Or he could have sold the team. Each choice was more honorable than the one he made.

    Modell`s nomination came down to one question: Did his service to the NFL prior to his move outweigh the critical decision of his career? I argued that it did not.

    His role on the TV committee was put in perspective when, in 1993, he sought to give the networks rebates for bad ratings Modell resigned from the committee under fire, and new owners came back with a contract that increased revenue, and then multiplied it. His move to the AFC was not so bold when one considers the $3 million incentive offered by the league.
    Pioneer of `Monday Night Football`? He merely offered to host the first game when other owners feared a box office disaster.

    I said that time may heal the wounds of Modell`s move of the Browns, but the time is not now. `I shudder to think what that ceremony in Canton would be like if Art Modell were put in the Hall of Fame,` I concluded.

    The vote of 35 selectors (three of the 38 were absent) was conducted after all other nominees were discussed. The first vote knocks down the list of 14 modern-era nominees to 10. It was announced that there was a tie for the 10th spot, increasing the next round to 11. I was shocked that Modell did not make the first cut. Other voters later told me they were turned off by Byrne`s campaigning, but, ultimately, they did not feel Modell`s credentials were worthy.

    As one said, `If he was so worthy, how come he never was nominated before the move?` As the meeting broke up, Byrne already was being informed of what went on. He was in full spin mode, blaming the rejection on me for holding a grudge against Modell.

    He felt that I still blamed Modell for being removed from the Browns beat by The Plain Dealer in 1990 over a controversial story that contained one false paragraph. I was reinstated long after editors involved in the story left the newspaper. It was an unfortunate episode in my career from which I learned a lot and have long put behind me.

    Byrne sees my stance on Modell`s Hall of Fame nomination as a grudge. I see it as a responsibility.

  3. Ruprecht Hart on said:

    Enshrining Modell cheapens the accomplishments of other inductees. Why not vote in John Dillinger or Machine Gun Keely (other thieves who gaine notoriety of a sort). Today the Browns/Ravens are your team. Enjoy, but don’t shove Art Modell down Clevelanders throats

  4. Mike on said:

    Moving the Browns had enough negative consequences that it should disqualify him from the Hall. I’ve often wondered how Modell could have gone broke while owning an NFL franchise. The TV revenue has always far exceeded the salary cap, and that margin should have been enough to more than cover remaining expenses. Not to mention the appeciation he was realizing on the value of the franchise itself.

  5. Brian Bower on said:

    I don’t see how this story pertains to whether or not Art gets into the HOF. This story was written about how the Ravens decided to celebrate Mr. Modell’s legacy as a Raven. After the many ups and downs of this season and the story book trip to the big game it would be fitting in my opinion as the writer if Mr. Modell was inducted. I do not know of any article published in the Baltimore Sun about you Mr. Grossi. I understand you have your reasons or opinions about Art. In a city where football had been missing for a long, long time Baltimore is proud of what Mr. Modell brought.

  6. Cindi on said:

    What does this article have to do with your ranting? Maybe it’s Cleveland’s record this year vs. the Ravens going to the Super Bowl!

  7. Debbie Fore on said:

    Toni Grossi, you’re a hack! Are you kidding me?!! I am so sick and tired about the whinning over the Browns! Modell allowed them to keep their name, their colors, logo and EVERYTHING BROWNS! They had a new team in two years..get over it already. He was an innovative leader when every other owner was scared to death of Monday Night Football. Of course you’ve used your sissy vote in a retaliatory manner and as usual Baltimore is disrespected again…big surprise. Art was granted BHOF the moment he brought football back to us. Once again Baltimore is held to a different standard, but thats OK, if that standard of rule includes such small minded and petty individuals as yourself. Screw Cleveland and screw you ya hack!!

  8. TerryM on said:

    Art Modell forfeited his HOF path with the “MOVE”. Baltimore fans choose to praise him for bringing them a viable replacement for their Colts while Cleveland was stuck with a mis-managed expansion team. Baltimore thrived with the Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis draft picks that were earned in Cleveland. Had it not been for Art Modell, Baltimore could have had that expansion team four years earlier. Baltimore fans choose to believe Art’s song and dance about being denied a new stadium in Cleveland. It was Art’s decision to reject the stadium offer in the early 90′s because he would lose his annual income from the Cleveland Indians lease of the stadium that Art managed. Art left Cleveland because he was broke. Baltimore promised and gave him an immediate infusion of money that bailed him out and permitted him and his family to live in the style in which that were used to be living. Seven years later he was BROKE again. Baltimore…you can love Art…he brought you a Super Bowl team. But please do not insult us. Art Modell did not do if for the fans of Baltimore. He did it for the money you serve him on a silver platter. Art Modell was the #1 mis-manager of money in the NFL. His contributions were marginal at best. But, Art Modell’s lying and manipulation and of the press and public opinion in Baltimore isn’t deserving of enshrinement in any Hall of Fame . I hope that his rejection this year is the last time that we will every need to comment of this poor excuse for enshrinement.

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