No Hall of Fame for Modell

No Hall of Fame for Modell
February 2, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Ravens make their case for Art Modell

NEW ORLEANS – For the late Art Modell, the Hall of Fame door remains closed.

Modell was again left out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the class of 2103 was announced here on Saturday. Modell was one of 15 finalists but did not survive the first round of cuts, as the 46-member committee needed to whittle the group of 15 finalists to 10. The final class did have a Ravens connection, as offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, the first player ever drafted by the Ravens, was selected. Others selected included Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp and Dave Robinson. Culp and Robinson were senior nominees.

But Modell, a finalist for the second time, came up short.

Modell was also a finalist in 2002, but his candidacy appeared to gain traction this year after his death in September. Scores of Hall of Famers and other influential NFL personalities paid tribute to Modell in the days after his death by saying he deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.

But it won’t happen this year.

Revered in Baltimore for bringing the Ravens to town, he remains vilified in Cleveland for precisely that reason. And that move has long been considered the only stumbling block preventing Modell from having his bust in Canton.

“I’ve read the reasons, or I should say the reason, why people don’t vote for him, and I’ve heard the other 20 reasons why they should,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said this week.

Modell has long been considered an NFL innovator and pioneer and one of the most influential owners in the history of the league. The league’s relationship to television, which vaulted it into the stratosphere economically, can be directly linked to Modell, who helped create Monday Night Football.

The Ravens went on the offensive in supporting Modell’s candidacy, with general manager Ozzie Newsome, who played his entire with the Browns, writing a guest editorial to the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week.

In it, Newsome wrote, “I am a Cleveland Brown and I will always be a Cleveland Brown. … Although I love the Baltimore Ravens and am proud to be the team's executive vice president and general manager, I never played for this team. I am a Brown. And I believe Art Modell should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

My reasons are the same as most of the voters for putting any person into the Hall of Fame: Can you write about the history of the game without using that person's name? You can't write the NFL history without Art.”

“The National Football League wouldn’t be the same,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this week. “Isn’t that the measurement? How much better did he make our game in the National Football League? By any measurement, it wouldn’t be the same, and it wouldn’t be as good right now.”

“He changed football. He changed the way it’s perceived. He helped make it the popular game it is today. He had a vision that really very few other people had in his time. There’s no question he belongs there.”