Art Modell was an professional football icon. Geography, not merit, is holding him back from enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Art Modell truly belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It has nothing to do with him bringing football back to Baltimore. I obviously am forever grateful that he did, but that’s not the reason he deserves to be enshrined. Modell played an instrumental role in making the National Football League the king of the sports world.
This is a man who began his NFL journey with the Cleveland Browns in 1961. He did many things in his life, but he is remembered for only one thing. It’s the elephant in the room, the elephant is big and that’s all anyone is willing to see. Modell took the Browns to Baltimore, and the franchise started over as the Ravens.
Modell claimed no ownership of the Browns name, logo or colors. Modell wanted Cleveland to keep it’s cherished history. He essentially moved his team the exact opposite way of Robert Irsay, who sneaked away in the middle of the night. Modell did everything he could to not be a villain.
Modell felt like moving the team was his only option, and there was no way to avoid emotional casualties. He knew Cleveland would resent and loathe him. If you know anything about the late Modell, you understand that this ate away at him. Remember the only people who ever had a bad thing to say about this man, are in Ohio.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio. It is a short drive from Cleveland. Enshrining Modell would create a doomsday raucous. There is no getting around it. It’s pretty understandable. If the Hall of Fame was in Annapolis and Robert Irsay was inducted, it wouldn’t be a comfortable scene.
One decision blocks one of the true builders of the NFL. Modell worked diligently to grow the game. He was a very important part of football becoming a T.V. event. He played a role in the start of Monday Night Football.
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He was an innovator and he made a lot of things possible for the league. If the Pro Football Hall of Fame was in New York, Miami or anywhere else, Modell would have been inducted in his lifetime. Modell was a gracious man who loved football. He devoted the game as the owner of the Browns and then the Ravens.
Look, I could go on and on. I could ramble about Modell’s importance. I could tell you about how he was a great man that did great things. I could rehash history and tell you about all of his accomplishments and all the people who loved him. It’s not like it will matter. I’ve banged my head against this wall before.
Modell was one of the most influential people in the NFL’s history and he deserved to be remembered for that. Cleveland’s pain prevents people from remembering him this way. To that I have one question.
Why doesn’t Baltimore’s pain count in this equation? When the Colts left it was equally devastating. Modell may have hurt Cleveland but giving us the Ravens was amazing. I have been a passionate Ravens fan since I was 10 years old. This team has given me nothing but joy, ever since I was a kid. Why doesn’t that joy matter?
I am incredibly biased. I am potentially as biased as the people in Cleveland who use his name as a curse word. However. if we take the franchise move out of the equation, Modell still belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Geography is the only argument against him. It’s a shame this argument couldn’t have ended in his lifetime.