Ravens Late Owner Deserving of HOF
Each year during Super Bowl week the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces a new class of inductees. According to The Hall’s mission statement they seek to honor the heroes of the game, preserve its history, promote its values.
Among their values are commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence.
Today I’m wondering how recent inductee Jerry Jones fits into this picture.
Jones is a self-absorbed egomaniac whose actions are solely driven by personal gain. He’s a narcissist who doesn’t exert a single ounce of energy without first asking, “What’s in it for me?”
Even cleaning his own eyeglasses is beneath him.
There’s no denying Jones’ business acumen, even if he is sometimes ruthless. In 1989 he bought the Cowboys for $140 million and the franchise is now worth over $4 billion according to Forbes. Much of that has to do with the growth in the league but Jones also deserves credit for expanding the footprint of the Cowboys and consequently marketing opportunities which have turned substantial profits.
But does a 2,757% ROI alone make him Hall of Fame worthy?
Does that make him a hero?
Since Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys following the 1993 season, Dallas is 199-169 in the regular season and 7-10 in the post season. While still employing a roster built by Johnson, the Cowboys were 34-14 from 1994-1996 and they were 5-2 in the postseason with one Super Bowl win. From 1997 on, the Cowboys are 155-155 in the regular season and 2-8 in the post season.
Is that Hall of Fame worthy?
Let’s face it, Jones has been the team’s GM ever since Johnson’s exodus. Would owner Jones have continued to employ GM Jones for 20 seasons with only 2 playoff wins?
Granted, winning shouldn’t be the sole measuring stick of an owner. An owner’s contributions to the overall good of the game are more important. Yet for years, Jones has tried to undermine the league’s revenue sharing. Revenue sharing is the league’s lifeblood. It fuels the salary cap which serves as the most effective navigational compass for competitive balance in all professional sports.
But if Jones had his way, he would take a ball peen hammer to that compass and then his Cowboys could be the LA Dodgers or New York Yankees of the NFL. Then he could try to buy a championship every season. After all, without the talent evaluation of Jimmy Johnson he’s failed to win one on his own for over two decades.
In 2010 Jones was found to be in violation of the NFL salary cap during the uncapped season along with Redskins owner Dan Snyder. The violation cost the Cowboys $10 million in cap space. Is that a hero’s behavior?
In 2014 some racy photographs of Jones were published by Huffington Post and shortly thereafter the Cowboys bus was found outside of a nightclub in LA (Bootsy Bellows), occupied by Jones’ son Stephen along with Fox Sports Jay Glazer and the NFL’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino. Several attractive young ladies were also aboard the bus and they weren’t there for Jones’ good looks.
Yes, I did say the league’s head of officiating, Dean Blandino.
These behaviors are more appropriate for the Hall of Shame.
Yet this summer, Jones will be among those receiving gold jackets and a bust to be placed in Canton, OH, to glamorize his legacy. Meanwhile, the great Art Modell remains on the outside looking in as it relates to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thanks in large part to a former Browns beat reporter who wears his vendetta like a see-through dress.
Tony Grossi has been a staunch adversary of Modell’s, regularly vilifying the former Browns and Ravens owner to his colleagues on the HOF voting committee. But he claims he has no vendetta.
“Supporters of Modell have persistently charged my opposition to him is the result of ‘a personal vendetta,’” Grossi once posted on ESPN Cleveland along with a poll aimed at the citizens of Cleveland.
“There is no vendetta. This poll shows that the people most affected by Modell’s move — generations of fans of the Browns — want me to represent their case to the Hall of Fame committee.
“Doing anything less would be irresponsible.”
Sounds a lot like a guy with a vendetta.
Maybe he just has an ax to grind with NFL owners. He once mistakenly posted this Tweet about former Browns owner Randy Lerner.
The Tweet cost Grossi his job on the Browns beat with the Cleveland Plain Dealer yet he remains on the HOF voting committee and continues his incessant whining about Modell’s move to Baltimore.
But why does this stick in the mud have such influence? Why does the committee allow his vendetta-driven pouting to keep a deserving man from his righteous place in league history?
Modell was a huge philanthropist contributing millions to the cities of Cleveland and Baltimore. The Brooklyn, NY native was heavily involved in the league’s first collective bargaining agreement. He won championships in Cleveland (pre-Super Bowl era) and Baltimore. And, borrowing from his experiences in the advertising business, Modell was instrumental in connecting the NFL with prime time television. He intimately understood the synergies between the NFL and TV and he was a driving force behind Monday Night Football.
Without Art Modell, the NFL would not be what it is today.
Modell did his best to keep Municipal Stadium, the rat invested home of the Browns and Indians, afloat. The city of Cleveland built a stadium for his biggest tenant, the Indians, and an adjacent facility for the Cavaliers. The city also built the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There was no stadium deal for Modell.
It was ok for Cleveland to accept Modell’s money and his efforts to build a hospital for the city, yet they treated him like the red-headed stepchild among the town’s sports team owners.
Hanging by a thread financially, Modell needed fiscal shelter. He found Baltimore.
Maybe Art wasn’t the most ardent student of monetary policy. Maybe without civic help, he painted himself into an undesirable economic corner. He had no choice but to find a way out.
And he did.
Would you Tony Grossi?
Does that diminish his contributions to the NFL?
If anything the move to Baltimore put another deserving city back on the league’s map and 3 years later Cleveland had its team, name and colors restored along with a new $296 million stadium, $48 million of which was paid for by the NFL.
In the end, everyone was a winner.
Yet Grossi and his fellow Clevelanders continue to bellyache and complain like petulant children. They mope about Super Bowl XXXV and how that championship should have been theirs.
Revisionist history at its finest.
These crackpots seem to forget that it took Steve Bisciotti’s money and some key free agent signings to put the Ravens over the top.
These surly little boot-lipped Clevelanders, starting with Grossi, are like a collection of scorned women. They give the Cavaliers and Indians a stadium; build the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and leave Modell with the tab at the dumpster fire called Municipal Stadium, and THEY complain? That’s like having your spouse cheat on you with 3 others, you decide to finally leave, and then your spouse is pissed at YOU!
Only in Cleveland…
The denial of Modell to his righteous place in Canton is criminal, particularly after they’ve just inducted a snake oil salesman like Jones.
Art Modell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and it should happen in 2018. No excuses.
It’s time that the HOF Committee fixes this Grossi injustice.
It’s time they honor one of the league’s heroes who helped to establish and re-write NFL history.
After all, isn’t that part of their mission?