Home » Best of » Art Modell has no Hall of Fame credentials.

Art Modell has no Hall of Fame credentials.

Are we doing this again?

Yes, we’re doing this again and we’re doing it comprehensively. It’s a lunar eclipse at high tide plus Halley’s comet set of coalescing events: Modell’s HOF vote occurs in two Saturdays (Feb. 2), months after his death, and with the Ravens in Super Bowl week. The drumbeat to vote him in from all places uninformed and uninvested will be loud. We need a link reviewing Modell’s ‘credentials’ and we need it fast.

Here is the thesis: Art Modell was a corrupt and failed businessman without HOF credentials in the categories of football, business, or civic contribution¹.

This is not personal.
This is not vendetta.
This is not a bitter Browns fan with a grudge; this is specifically not sour grapes.

This is a factual review of Art Modell’s career as owner of the Cleveland Browns.

There is nothing in his record the rises to the level of Hall-of-Famer. On the contrary, the record shows he did more to hurt than to help pro football.

(Unless you think that holding cities and fan-bases hostage for publicly funded stadia is a good thing.)

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#haterz
In the national discussions likely to take place this week you will not hear the problems with Art Modell’s candidacy detailed by our friends in national sports journalism. Here is a prototype example:

LEN SHAPIRO, MODELL VOTER.
WANTS YOU TO SHOW A LITTLE CLASS FOR A CHANGE.

… give it up already, show a little magnanimity and stop all this vengeful hate mongering. Modell belongs in the Hall of Fame for countless reasons. His haters belong in the Hall of Shame.

Len Shapiro, Journalism school graduate

Exactly. Putting aside the hacky clichés, Shapiro’s comment is typical of the credential presentation you will see from Modell fans. It’s a mix of haughtiness and judgement and snark and bereft of data in support of Modell. Shapiro paints Modell’s HOF argument as a struggle against Clevelanders. YOU are the problem Mr. Cleveland fan. YOU are unforgiving. YOU are vengeful. YOU are a hater.

(Sometimes they’ll bring it all the way to: YOU are the reason Modell was forced to leave.)

Be prepared. Moving into this week and next you will hear about Modell leaving Cleveland. And then you will be fed an ‘equal-time’ segment from Baltimore fans/reporters saying he should be in the Hall of Fame. Contriving that “… fans of Cleveland and Baltimore clearly benefited from a move that left both cities with magnificent new stadiums, …” (!!) Saying Cleveland should get over it. You will hear clap-trap about TV contracts. What you will not hear are sound qualifications for his induction to Canton.

This is because there are no sound qualifications for his induction to Canton.

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Here’s his record.

OPM, part 1: How to buy an NFL team with $250,000
Art Modell purchases the most successful pro-football team in history with $250,000 of his own money in 1961. No really. Ultimately this asset would grow to be worth $600,000,000… and yet Modell was forced to sell due to financial distress. On its face it’s remarkable that one could not make a go of it with this printing press of a business. When we look at the public subsidies he received along the way it becomes surreal. What it is not is Hall of Fame worthy.

Art killed Brownie.

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Who killed Brownie the Elf?

From Vince at Cleveland Scene we uncover this:

So, what do you do with a logo that the fans love?

Well, if you’re Art Modell, you get rid of it.

Apparently, Modell, who became the team’s owner in 1961, was completely embarrassed by the elf and hated it so much that in the mid-1960s he began to phase it out. Yes, in addition to taking the team from Cleveland, Modell also was responsible for putting the lovable Brownie on the unemployment line.

Modell at practice, 1965.
Get off the field, Art.

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The Modell Record in Cleveland on the field
The Browns record going into the 1961 season was 143-37-6, .785. (If you want to exclude AAFC, fine, 88-30-2, .742.) Seven championships in 15 years (or three in 11 NFL years). Under Modell, the record is .543. Under Modell post Blanton Collier (marking the end of the Paul Brown built teams), the record is .507 with no championships and no Super Bowl appearances.

Modell ushered in his era by trading Paul Warfield to the Dolphins for the 3rd pick overall, Mike Phipps. Compounding matters, he filled Warfield’s hole by trading Jim Kanicki (!) and Ron Johnson to the Giants for Homer Jones. And finally, he sent Bob ’53 Defense’ Matheson to the Dolphins for a 2nd rounder (who became Lester Sims who played not one game). That’s three first round picks and a second — cornerstones for growth — gone because Art tended to be too hands on.

He actually received a nickname summing up his talent acquisition savvy from the Miami News:  Santa Claus.

Jim Marshall, Ron Johnson, Marvin Upshaw, Mike Lucci, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Jim Langer, Dean Browns, Paul Warfield, and Bob Matheson.

That’s not a preseason All-NFL team, though it could be.  It’s a partial list of the players who have been dealt away by the Cleveland Browns in recent years.

–Miami News, September 14, 1971.  (Click images for original report.)

mianews-1thumb

Here’s a montage of Modell’s dismantling of the 11-4-1, 1969 Browns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Art’s post-Paul Brown win-loss record is .500; not a plus differentiator for HOF.

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Imagine firing Branch Rickey. After two years.
The builder of the Browns, Paul Brown, is acknowledged as the most innovative coach in the history of football. A quick list (thanks):

Marion Motley, pro-football's Jackie Robinson

Marion Motley, pro football’s Jackie Robinson

  • Brown was the first to integrate professional football, prior to Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson integrating baseball. In 1946, Brown put fullback Marion Motley and defensive lineman Bill Willis on his squad, and both have busts in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
  • Brown was the first coach to have his players wear facemasks.
  • Brown was the first to have his players undergo classroom instruction on the professional level.
  • Brown was also the first professional football head coach to use film study.
  • The “practice squad” in the NFL was begun by Brown and McBride, who owned a cab company, as the “taxi squad.”
  • The radio helmet for quarterbacks was experimented with by Brown in the preseason of 1956.

I would add:

Massillon to Canton: 7.3 miles

Massillon to Canton: 7.3 miles

  • Messenger Guards for play calling.
  • Short timing patterns emphasizing yards-after-catch. a.k.a., West Coast Offense.
  • Used 40-yard dash in training camps because it was reflective of punt coverage length; now the universal measure of player speed.
  • Invented the draw play,
  • The famous Browns’ sweeps with precision release on snap and fast guards who can get out front to lead it.¹
  • HE INVENTED THE PLAYBOOK WHEN HE WAS COACHING MASSILLON HIGH SCHOOL!

[ok, that's enough.]

Paul Brown’s coaching tree? Good lord. His direct branches (players or assistants) include Shula, Ewbank, Walsh, and Noll… you can imagine how it’s spawned from there.

And so what does Mr. Modell do with the secret sauce of his new enterprise? His magic beans? His IP? He moves into Brown’s office bumping him to a smaller one, buys players drinks in spite of Brown’s rules, second guesses Brown’s playcalls in the pressbox, dabbles in player personnel (Lou Groza), enables back-door player complaints about HC to owner, breaks Brown’s sacred ‘no one player is bigger than the team’ by setting up Jim Brown radio show and column with Hal Lebovitz, and ultimately fires Paul Brown after two years. Per Brown, his office belongings were packed in a corrugated box and left on Brown’s front porch.

In fairness, you can find reports from Cleveland stating it was time for Brown to go.³ It’s a mixed bag. But firing a coach with .757 win-loss percentage and then embarking on 25 years of .500 ball? Not HOF.

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Ever wonder why Jim Brown retired at 29?
Yeah, me too. The answer is because he could. The answer is because he wasn’t about to take any crap from a 39-year-old ad exec. Art threatens to fine Brown $1500/week; Brown retires while on location filming the Dirty Dozen. The question becomes: does sending an ultimatum to the greatest player (you want to say ‘Top 5?’ fine.) ever to play the game make one MORE QUALIFIED or LESS QUALIFIED to enter Canton?

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Art Modell: Television Pioneer

Here is the fall-back. The trump card. The ‘reasonable argument.’ The canard.

Art Modell deserves to be in the HOF because he (helped Pete Rozelle) negotiated TV contracts.

Let’s get something straight: after Wellington Mara agreed to let New York ad revenue be split equally among the franchises, I could have negotiated a TV contract. More precisely: I could have hung out on Clint Murchison’s island while Pete Rozelle opened sealed bids in NYC.

And not for nothing: do you know what would constitute a HOF TV negotiator? It would be the NOVEL IDEA of first thinking of the fans’ experience! Like how The Masters limits commercials to five minutes an hour? HEY NFL! HEY ART MODELL! You’re gonna get your 5.7 BILLION A YEAR no matter what! What say you get rid of the touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial thing. k, thx.

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CBS’ live coverage of the Browns’ 1964 NFL Championship win over the Colts, as seen in Cleveland.

His one and only Championship was blacked-out on Cleveland TV
Prior to 1973, all games were blacked out in the home city regardless of whether they were sold out. Thus, not only did Art never get Cleveland to the Super Bowl, the one TV-era championship game we had WAS NOT SEEN IN CLEVELAND.

It wasn’t Art or Rozelle who fixed the blackout rule.

One would think such a TV Man, such a visionary, such a savant, would not need a decade to recognize that televising sold-out games would help the growth of the NFL. Art’s Blackout Policy is actually one of the reasons there is no football in LA: LA teams rarely sold out games in LA Coliseum, and the black-out rule makes LA’s TV market (5.65 million TV households) irrelevant.

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Satellite TV: slow on the uptake
Personally, I recall my local Browns Backer chapter forced to move from bar to bar because Modell shut us down when his committee learned they were catching satellite feeds. This is in the 80s and I recall vividly thinking, ‘Geez Art, you yourself are screwing a couple dozen Browns fans who only want to support your own damn team.’ I mean: the cease and desist letters were signed by Modell and cognizant that it was the Browns Backers he was shutting down! I assure you, The Bus Stop Pub in Allston was no threat to future of the NFL.

I submit that if growth of the league is the laudable end to Art’s TV contributions, then network revenue generation should not be the only metric of success. I submit that his blackout policies, fear of satellite TV, and even the present commercial over-load are indicators that the growth occurred in spite of Art, not because of him.
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CBS threw in this tractor to close the deal.

Back to the contracts, Modell backers think he cured polio by being in the room when contracts were signed. (Correction: Art was not in the room. As noted above, he was on Clint Murchison’s private Bahamian island while Rozelle sealed the 1964 contract.) One thing is for sure, the fans were not represented in that room. But ok, let’s play it out: Art was our ‘top gun’ driving these hard-hitting negotiations. How did that work out? Art signs with with CBS for $14.6MM/yr in 1964. In 1965, the AFL signed a deal with NBC for $36MM/yr. (See page 12 of this white paper for more detail.) In the aftermath of the NBC deal, the NFL was able to triple their contract with CBS in 1966. This is why it seems money was left on the table. I think Oliver Douglas did better with Mr. Haney.

Moving along, let’s revisit the early 90s…

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Thank you to Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP), ABJ Browns beat writer from 1994-96, now at NY Post, for the next two entries.

The one where Art wants to rebate the networks $238 million.
Two decades ago Art wanted the NFL to reduce its network fees. The story is a bit long and dense and if you want the blow-by-blow, it is linked. But here is the net, Jerry Jones took Art’s train off the track:

On March 31, 1992, against the wishes of Tagliabue and a majority of owners, Jones and Braman got the needed votes to kill a proposed $238 million network rebate and a two-year contract extension at network-friendly prices. It would have cost Jones and the other owners each an immediate $8.5 million.

Modell’s HOF bio indicates his last TV contract deal was in 1993.

We’ll see more of Art’s magical business acumen below.

But let’s just now and forever stop with the TV pioneer jive.

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And about Monday Night Football..
Hubbuch also reminds us that MNF was not a Modell invention. It was created by Pete Rozelle and Roone Arledge:

Not pictured, Art Modell.

Not pictured, Art Modell.

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle approached Arledge about a Monday night game of the week. CBS and NBC had already turned down Rozelle, citing their well-established prime time line-ups, but ABC was a ratings wasteland on Monday nights. Arledge paid a hefty $25.5 million for the three-year, 39-game package, but it was easily the best buy of his career.

Nor will you find Modell mentioned in the creation of NFL Films. Rozelle yes. Modell no.

And that famous first MNF game in Cleveland against the Jets? Blacked-out in Cleveland.

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It’s beautiful to us.
Photo by Jerry Sherk.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium: yours for $1/year

Hey! Mr. Modell! Cleveland here. We want to give you the stadium! We know your team plays in it only ten times a year. But we want to give it to you! You get to collect concessions and parking and advertising revenue not just for your Browns games but also for the 81 times the Indians play there! You can also schedule ‘other events‘ there! Can you charge the Indians rent? Of course! You can even charge the Browns rent if it works for you! It’s your 80,000 seat stadium! All you have to do is maintain it!

'Other Events.' (Mute, then click.)

‘Other Events.’ (Mute, then click.)
Beer was probably sold on this day.
Many of these people paid to park their cars.

That is the pretend phone call that created the Cleveland Stadium Corporation.

[For the sake of accuracy, Modell's lease with Cleveland was $150,000/year.  He in turn sub-letted it to the Browns for $150,000/year.  Modell's lease with Cleveland called for $10,000,000 in improvements over the course of ten years; the sub-lease with the Browns called for the Browns to invest $10,000,000 improvements.  Copy of lease to CSC here; sub-lease to Browns here.]

Corrupt Art emerges. Or “How to use your front Stadium Corp. to put $3,000,000 cash in your pocket.”
What’s the first thing to do after you’ve incorporated your new business whose existence is solely owed to a remarkable deal proffered you by Cleveland city government? Correct: you purchase 190 acres of land in Strongsville as Art Modell, private citizen, in 1972-3 for $800,000; then buy the same land as the primary owner of Stadium Corp. for $4,000,000 in 1975-76. (New stadium! Maybe.) And as citizen Art, you take your $4,000,000 disbursement as $3,000,000 cash, the rest as note.

Strongsville is not Cleveland.

Strongsville: not Cleveland.
Planning move from Cleveland in 1972?

Turns out Art is a good negotiator when he negotiates with himself.

Move forward to the 80s, Art wants the Browns to buy Stadium Corp. And citizen Art will forgive the $1,000,000 note he is due, provided the Browns purchase of Stadium Corp increases by $1,000,000.

I’ll cut to the chase: Art is a corrupt shyster and a bad one. (Here’s the court brief if you want to dig in; here’s an easier and more interesting read by Bartimole.) When Art tries to get the Browns to buy Stadium Corp. at an inflated price, swallowing Art’s corrupt land deals, Browns minority partner Bob Gries calls bullshit. Sues. Wins when ultimately the Ohio Supreme Court sided with Gries.

Thank you SeattleBrownsFan for the assist on Gries/Strongsville.

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Art Modell: Landlord
So Art’s got his Stadium Corp. Art’s got two tenants and is assured of over 90 dates a year. Not too shabby. He puts in a scoreboard; that’s cool. Next move? Physical plant overhaul? Field improvements? Spruce up the clubhouses? HELL NO!! Luxury boxes my man! Art’s lease required he invest $10MM in the stadium over ten years.4 Art spent $8MM on luxury boxes. And hey Indians with your 81 games: you don’t get any revenue from my boxes on your games!

My goodness. This is surely a dick move but we’re not to get personal in this missive and anyway there are dicks in Canton. No, here’s where it gets fun. The Indians say: eff this, we’re out of here. This deal sucks and we’ve got options. This leads to Gateway. But first…

OPM, part 2: Andre Rison on Discover Card
At the same time, 1995, that Modell has lost his main tenant for his stadium, he signs free agent Andre Rison to a $17 million contract. Except he doesn’t have the cash to pay his bonus. And Rison wants cash. So Modell takes out bank loans. And taps out his shrinking cash flow even further. (This really happened.) Turns out both Modell and Rison would’ve benefitted from an annuity here.

Not for nothing, Rison averaged 47 yds/gm in 95. Three TDs. Didn’t we have the two smartest football minds ever on the staff there in 95? Was the Rison signing Modell or Belichick or Lombardi? If only we had the sources of info that Jim Nantz has.

Gateway Project
The Indians are threatening to leave. God bless poor old rust-belty Cleveland: it’s really important to have the Indians downtown. Know they don’t draw a whole lot, but it’s major when a charter member of the American League leaves your city. Ok, says Cleveland, we’ll help build you a stadium. Mind you, a primary driver in the Indians’ dissatisfaction is their landlord, Mr. Art Modell.

Irony alert.

Smoke.

Smoke.

Art wakes up and realizes his primary tenant is leaving. Art realizes that it’s hard to find tenants to use his stadium and consume his beer and look at his Marlboro billboards 81 times a year. My GOD!! DIDNT SEE THAT ONE COMING!!!

So now Art’s in a dither. But he actually passes up participating in the Gateway Project initially.5 So Cleveland takes care of the Indians and Cavs. And NOW Art looks around and is like wtf? The Indians really left? YES DUMBASS. YOU SCREWED YOUR TENANT AND THEIR LEASE RAN OUT AND THEY MOVED. Christ. This guy.

He asks for $175 million to refurb the stadium. It is put on the ballot. He puts a moratorium on stadium negotiations until after the 1995 season. At the same time, he is conducting negotiations in Maryland. Election day with the ballot initiative is coming up November 7. You know what happens next, Baltimore: your Hall of Famer gives the secret knock on the tarmac to your governor and announces he is moving the day before his requested $175 million is approved in Ohio. The Baltimore Browns had landed.

[Art did not magnanimously leave behind the Browns name, colors, and history.

"Will you change the name?"
"No," Modell said.

The name-staying was mandated to settle a lawsuit Cleveland brought as a result of Art's non-compliance with his lease.]

Stay classy Maryland.Note the myth-perpetuating caption in the WaPo photo.

Stay classy Maryland.
Note the myth-perpetuating caption in the WaPo photo.

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And finally, not to be forgotten,
OPM, part 3: Screw your partner.
Ever heard of the Andrews Trust? Yeah, he was one of those guys who helped Modell buy an NFL team with $250,000 which turned into $600,000,000 but with which he still went almost bankrupt. Anyway, Mr. Andrews (now his heirs) had an agreement that if Modell sold, he would get a fee. Modell should be happily paying the heirs of the man who helped him win the lottery of lotteries. Nope. He held 1% in order to screw his partner’s family. That’s your Hall-of-Famer, Baltimore.

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George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Wellington Mara, … and Art Modell?

Art Rooney and Ralph Wilson, the two owners who voted against moving the Browns, … and Art Modell?

Paul Brown, Jim Brown, … Art Modell?

Sorry, no. Sorry, no: Art Modell does not belong in a place of honor with these men.

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And when those talking heads tell us in Cleveland to let it go?

Well do please note, that throughout this post, I haven’t even mentioned the emotional component to ripping a public trust away from a community that was unfailingly supportive for 50 years.

But that happened too.

And if some folks can’t take the time to review his record; we don’t need to explain ourselves to them.

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Review; Concise Talking Points

  • Modell’s football record without Paul Brown’s influence is pedestrian.
  • What HOF owner drives off top 5 ever head coach and player within five years of taking over?
  • Modell’s ‘TV legacy’ features leaving money on the table in the early 60s, maintaining home city blackout policy through 1973, attempting to give huge amounts money back to networks, and absence from MNF and NFL Films creation.
  • Modell’s management of Cleveland Stadium featured abuse of his primary tenant and corrupt manipulation of its corporation.
  • Modell’s bargaining with Maryland while not talking to Cleveland was deceitful toward fans who’d demonstrated great support averaging 70,000+/game in the nine years preceding the move.
  • Comparisons of Modell to Al Davis fall down on Davis’ three SB wins, 12 HOFers, and iconic brand creation. (see here and here.) Redirect to ‘what are Art’s credentials?’
  • Comparisons to Dan Reeves (moved Rams from Cleveland to LA) are lowest common denominator; the ‘High Pockets Kelly’ for football. (see 2nd section.) Redirect to ‘what are Art’s credentials?’
  • Do NOT engage in debates about jealousy of Ravens’ success. Now is not the time to set straight any Ray Lewis idolatry.
  • Use words like ‘betrayal’ sparingly.
  • ‘Cleveland should let it go’ arguments should be met without emotion but with a challenge to the Modell fan to present reasons why Modell SHOULD enter Canton.

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Other links on the subject:

Frowns: More than Just a Grudge

Kanick: Al Davis review vs Modell

Frowns: Al Davis review vs Modell (with Mobutu)

Frowns: Review of Modell’s end of days in Cleveland

Kanick: Dissection of Ozzie Newsome letter to PD

Kanick: Modell’s ties to bookies and gamblers

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¹ I’ve received challenges regarding Art’s non-HOF ‘civic contributions’ record. Yes Art contributed to charity while in Cleveland and in a significant way. However, I contend the removal of the Browns was magnitudes more devastating to the region than the giving to Cleveland Clinic was beneficial.

² I know this is beside the thrust of this post. Can’t help it. Love this play. If you go to 1:35 of the embedded video and watch closely you’re gonna see linemen beating their men off the snap like they’re statues. Here’s a cap.

It's like the defense hasn't moved.

It’s like the defense hasn’t moved.

³ Pluto makes the it-was-time-for-Paul-Brown-to-go case in Chapter 13 of Things I’ve Learned From Watching the Browns.

4 Page 88 of Glory for Sale, Jon Morgan.

5 The Naymik article linked quotes George Forbes (Cleveland City Council President at the time) and Tim Hagan (Cuyahoga County Commissioner at the time). Both state that informal offers were made by them to Modell to include a Browns stadium in the Gateway Project. Because this is at odds with Modell’s claims (and because Mike Florio has impugned Naymik on the report… because… I don’t know why), I’m choosing not to play this angle too hard.


40 Comments

  1. brian says:

    at least Cleveland got a team and its stats back Baltimore never did Your History stayed there. The past of Johnny Unitas Is in Indy which it doesnt belong You have a great stadium now a team that hopefully will rebuild and grow. Its time to move forward and Let someone from Baltimore Decide If Art should go into the Hall also look at some of these other players that are not getting into the Hall that have been turned down for years that are great and are being told no

  2. TerryM says:

    People from B’more telling us we have to let it go are telling us to forget what really happened….to forget the truth. If they want to believe in a myth, then so be it. Art Modell appeared to be a nice and funny man who was lousy in business and had no business trying to survive in the NFL. He was in way over his head. If Art makes it into the HOF, they might as well move it to Maryland. It would be the final slap in the face to the Browns’ fans whose only fault was to love a franchise too much. If he makes it it, Robert Irsay needs to be there, too. The only difference was Irsay was openly a creep. Modell did a much better job of hiding it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I thought Modell was already in the Hell of Flame.Oh,”Hall of Fame”,ohhhhh…

  4. Such says:

    This is nice work. As a lifelong Baltimorean, I believe the HoF should be a “players only” club. And as someone who feels the sting to this day of Irsay’s antics, after reading this I can sympathize with the pain Modell brought to loyal Browns fans. The fact is that the fans are the last people any owner cares about, especially when that owner is an inept one. The state of modern sports is a sad one. The dollars have corrupted everyone.

    Nice work here. Very informative.

  5. Boris from Norwalk, Ohio says:

    .
    I wonder if Shapiro would change is mind if he knew the reason Modell kept a 1% interest in the Ravens after selling the team to avoid paying the heirs of the broker who did the Mickey McBride sale to Modell in ’61?

    Modell signed a contract when he bought the Browns staing that he would pay the broker 5% of the value of the Browns if he sold the team. By keeping 1% of the Ravens Modell in effect is thumbing his nose at that contract!

    That is the essence of a morally corrupt person that has no right being anywhere near Canton!

    • mark says:

      Not to mention his lease agreement and profit taking from the Indians ended any chance of them being anything but a cellar dweller for a dozen years……

    • Mark says:

      I’ve read that Ravens owner Steve Bischotti (sp?) actually refused to purchase 100% of the team and insisted Modell keep 1% stating the team would “always be” Art’s. If that’s true then it woudn’t really be Art’s fault….
      (IF it’s true…)

  6. markcoltrin says:

    Being a transplant from Ohio, 13 yrs plus and now living below Baltimore / Washington DC it makes me sick to keep listening to the Ravens back to the super bowl. To make matters worse for people like me that grew up with the browns, now the ravens are wearing Art t shirts. There is no talk / discussion and or way for any reason for Modell to ever get into the hof.

    • I concur. I was a “Jump Art” fan when he was still slithering around the Office in Cleveland! So Goodell demands Cleveland Stadium to usher a moment of silence when he dies??? I wanted to applaud, no CHEER that maybe the curse was now dead and died with him. He lost me a long time ago..Like when he fired the frekin creator of football, then tells Jimmy Brown he can’t act in movies during the off season?? Go Haslem. You’re the new breed. No connections with Modells-Lerners. Go Browns

  7. Rj Young says:

    Thank you , Jim Kanicki! Many may not remember him, but Jim played for the Browns in the ’60’s , and it is good that a former player is saying exactly what everyone in Cleveland and all of Browns World Wide Nation knew from Day 1. To be exact, Modell did have 250,000 of his own money, and he borrowed to get the 4.5 million he paid to get the team from Mickey McBride(Check out “When All The World Was BrownsTown” by Terry Pluto. Modell actually admits that he didn’t have the money to do it on his own). Another thing he did had to do with the ’64 championship game. While the rest of the country got to see the game live, Modell had the game blacked out in the Cleveland area, and then he had the game ran the NEXT night! Sir Arthur The Greedy only thought of himself. And ,yes, you Baltimorons, Modell , when Carolina and Jacksonville got their teams, said, and I quote: “Baltimore doesn’t deserve another team.” I am getting tired of hearing how Cleveland didn’t give him a stadium. Kanicki was right. He was offered a new stadium when the city built the Gateway Project. Modell has built a legacy of lies and you don’t get into the Hall Of Fame on lies. If Goodall and some “Modell Backers” put this fool in the hall, then the game has lost its true spirit. Hall Of Fame for Sir Arthur The Greedy? Why?

    • jimkanicki says:

      first order of business: I’m not the real Jim Kanicki, see my about page for more.
      but .. wow.. I didn’t know that Modell blacked out the championship game. really? that’s pretty wrong; it had to have been sold out.
      thx for the note!

    • Just a Fan says:

      Modell did not purchase the team from Mickey McBride, it was purchased from Dave Jones who had bought it 9 years earlier from McBride

    • Greg O'Brien says:

      A rumor going around in Baltimore at the time of the announced move was that Modell knew the Maryland Stadium Authority’s (MSA) deal was the best on the table for an expansion team and he wanted it for himself. Therefore, he crusaded against expansion in Baltimore. However, he covered his tracks by asking Al Lerner to step in in the 11th hour when Boogie Weinglass’ deal was falling apart. Irregardless, Modell knew that Tagliabue was not going to let Baltimore have an expansion team (the only way Baltimore was going to get a team under Tagliabue was by moving). Thus, straining the relationship between Lerner and Modell (whether it was planned or not, Lerner ends up getting the next expansion team in Cleveland). Tagliabue, shooting down the Baltimore hopes, gave Modell time to work the Cleveland officials knowing he had a window to secure a deal with MSA. Deep down, he wanted a new stadium, training facility and the boatload of money MSA was offering before another owner uprooted and took it.

      • jimkanicki says:

        i agree that modell got a first hand look at the MSA package during the expansion process. but, even though art voted for jax, my research points to Jack Kent Cooke as leading the crusade and i think the vote was 26-2 for jax.

        i agree that the MSA package was way beyond anything cleveland could’ve come up with and suspect that art had mentally checked out of cleveland long before the announcement. i also suspect that the non-business element of the move wherein art could simultaneously tuck it on cleveland govt and go somewhere and be beloved was a significant factor.

        check the WRONG piece which kinda gets into these points.

        thanks for checking in!

  8. I’m so glad you wrote this!

    To interject ,as a Lifelong Browns fan, this needed to be said! I have always felt it was impossible to go through all that $$$ Baltimore guaranteed Modell, then winning a SB THEN filing BK??? It had to be gambling. And David Modell the spawn of Art would be the main reason why Art pissed away the Browns franchise!

    • dg736 says:

      Davied was not Art’s spawn; he was adopted by Art, and was his wife’s son from a previous marriage. Makes it worse; if David was Art’s son his jerkiness could be understood. Art adopted a kid who was a bigger ahole than Art himself; what are the chances????

  9. Garry Owen says:

    Great stuff, Jim. I’ve always hated this guy, and thought that he was wholly unworthy of the HoF, but only because I’m a bitter Browns fan with a grudge. Now I have confirmation that my bitter anger is actually rooted in rock solid fact! I can honestly claim that it’s not emotional. It is now officially rational.

    [By the way, thanks for also being a bitter Browns fan with a grudge, though, yeah, I get it, you're not. Wink, wink.]

  10. mgbode says:

    *slow clap*

  11. Ned says:

    He is not an astute man but he is a smart man and HOF is about legacies and Modell has one with the Ravens…that is enough.

    • Believelander says:

      Yes, he has a legacy of not being able to stay out of debt in spite of the half billion Baltimore dropped him, along with a 63-65-1 record in Baltimore. And firing Bill Belichick. Wonderful mediocrity to go with wonderful mediocrity from his time in Cleveland. Ah but they won the Super Bowl!!!!!

      A legacy of mediocrity mixed with failure, interrupted only by two championships separated by over 35 years. Never mind that he wouldn’t have had the money to win the second title because he couldn’t parlay the Browns’ 240000% increase in value into being able to avoid going into debt, except that the city of Baltimore dug him out of the hole so it would take him 5-10 more years to bury himself again. And that he never would have won the first, but, you know, Paul Brown.

      Based on these points, I respectfully disagree with your assertion that his legacy is worthy of the Hall of Fame. It’s not just about having a legacy. It’s about having a legacy of greatness.

    • Anonymous says:

      16 seasons (ravens) isn’t a legacy for HOF.

  12. atdietz80 says:

    Nice work JK. We still know absolutely nothing about the TV negotiations. Someone in those meetings has to be alive to give an honest account of Mr. Modell’s involvement. He was a trainwreck of an owner for sure. I would like for someone to come out and say ‘Art sat in on the meetings and had no impact on the outcome’ or ‘that deal would never have gotten done but for Art Modell.’ If the new push for enshrinement is just an attempt at whitewashing the past by the Baltimore media, this thing should die in committee. One thing, though, if there is an owner who definitely deserves to make the Hall it is Eddie DeBartolo. His pitch should take two seconds…5 rings…done. Only 4-7 people can be selected. Will two owners make up the enshrined? I would be surprised. Eddie D and Art are incongruous to each other. One guy won big, the other is seen as nothing but a heartless failure.

    • jimkanicki says:

      i need to link to your vanderbilt pdf outlining the tv contracts… just a better source than wiki. wrt to the record, i think the fact of NBC/AFL making a front-loaded deal may skew the numbers a bit. but the thrust of art underestimating the value holds up, imo.
      take a look at the two new TV-related data points i just added. the MNF myth is busted; and the 92 rebate is another example of non-HOF performance in a TV-leadership role.

  13. texinottawa says:

    Well done Jim. Thanks for this.

  14. you forgot to mention the sweetheart deal that baltimore gave him… and that he had to sell a controlling interest in the team to the present owner to bail him out yet again. the only reason he’s up for HOF again is because he’s dead.

  15. Bravo. Well Done.

    And a special F you to Tim Brown who with his comments today might have moved Art closer to something he has no business being any part of.

  16. zarathustra says:

    Bravo. Very well done. The challenge now is to figure out how to make sure Grossi reads it

  17. Peter says:

    Teriffic post.

  18. Dan Reeves says:

    Dan Reeves and Al Davis are laughing from their graves.

  19. tmoore94 says:

    Let’s pile on Modell with these important nuggets as well:

    *He voted for Jacksonville – and against Baltimore – when the NFL was expanding because he wanted to keep Baltimore in his pocket as a possible destination.

    *For the nine-year stretch preceding 1995, the Browns averaged more than 70,000 fans a game. Local TV ratings were among the highest in the league, with the Browns finishing second (to the Dallas Cowboys) in 1993 and first in the league in 1994.

    But somehow Modell couldn’t make it work in Cleveland.

    *To get him to move to Baltimore, the state of Maryland agreed to pay for a new stadium that the team would use rent free; the team would keep all profits from parking, concessions, tickets, skyboxes and advertising, and the team could sell up to $80 million in Personal Seat Licenses.

    But somehow Modell still couldn’t make it work and had to sell the team.

    This is a Hall of Famer?

    DK: The book you are thinking of is Fumble!, The Browns, Modell and the Move, by Michael Poplar: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-G.-Poplar/e/B001KCVHHC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1358871986&sr=8-1

    Another great read on the situation is Jon Morgan’s Glory for Sale: Fans, Dollars and the New NFL: http://www.amazon.com/Glory-Sale-Fans-Dollars-New/dp/096312465X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358872033&sr=1-1&keywords=glory+for+sale

    • jimkanicki says:

      These are great data points, Titus. Thanks.

      Can you imagine the parking revenues around a stadium? Say 20,000 cars x $20 x 8 games = $3,200,000?? All cash?????

    • Believelander says:

      You guys aren’t giving Art any credit, acting as if he bumbled his way incompetently through life. But surely, he must have been good at many things. Ah, for example, when it came to the art of firing personnel to deflect blame away from himself, Art was a master and revolutionary. Many sports franchise today can fire coaches, often at the expense of their on-field product, thanks to the visionary work of Modell and contemporaries who blazed these trails.

  20. [...] Kanicki Blog – Art Modell Has No Hall of Fame Credentials [...]

  21. DK says:

    Jesus, Kanicki. This is incredible. Now, just shrink all this down to Tweet size and send it off to Tony Grossi – right?

    I can’t recall the name of the book right now, but it was written by a Modell accountant and detailed just how passive aggressive and downright clueless Modell was in the 80s and 90s. I cannot believe that this man is still held in such regard – other than the dumb ass “pioneer” and “TV executive” labels that don’t really mean anything anymore.

    I’ve always said – had Modell not bankrupted himself and had the Browns remained in Cleveland past 1995, they would have turned into an even worse version of today’s Bills or Raiders. Despite how bad the move hurt and despite how horrendous Lerner’s ownership tenure proved to be, it was necessary.

    But whatever – he certainly died at the right time and Ray Ray wearing his shirt and good timing and all that.

    • nj0 says:

      I believe you’re talking about Fumble: The Browns, Modell, and the Move by Michael Poplar who worked for Cleveland Stadium Corp.

      • DK says:

        Right, Fumble! Thanks nj0 and Tom Moore for thinking of the title.

        I also remember reading it around the time Jim Bailey’s infamous “Asshole” reply to a fan (from 1975) was unearthed. Funny, but Bailey seemed to have completely disappeared after he basically seemed to be little more than a Yes Man to Modell’s lack of vision.

        Whatever happened to that guy? Anybody?

  22. [...] he did in stealing the Browns away to Baltimore as a disqualifying factor. But today, thanks to a post by @jimkanicki at the world’s hottest new website about Cleveland, Browns and things, it’s as clear as ever that the focus on “the move” to Baltimore obscures the [...]

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