We’re pleased that Modell didn’t get in this. No denying it.
But there’s no feeling here that his loss was due to anything other than a remarkably robust group of candidates. Here’s the list. Strikethrough indicates candidate was eliminated in first cut. Bold means they made it.
- Larry Allen (G/T),
- Jerome Bettis (RB),
Tim Brown (WR),
- Cris Carter (WR),
- Curley Culp (DT/G) – senior,
Edward DeBartolo Jr. (owner), Kevin Greene (LB),
- Charles Haley (DE),
Art Modell (owner),
- Jonathan Ogden (OT),
- Bill Parcells (coach),
- Andre Reed (WR),
- Dave Robinson (LB) – senior,
- Warren Sapp (DT),
Will Shields (G),
- Michael Strahan (DE),
- Aeneas Williams (CB)
(My ballot is Allen, Carter, Ogden, Parcells. Period. Ok, Culp too.)
That’s a strong list and the max HOF takes is seven.
That being said…
I didn’t read or hear or see any HOF voters speaking explicitly to the shortcomings of Modell’s candidacy. Didn’t hear any review of the particulars with Modell’s tenure as Cleveland Stadium landlord. No discussion of events precipitating the Paul Brown firing or it’s graceless aftermath. No critical review of the Browns’ performance on the field post-Brown. Obviously nothing on the Gries lawsuit. None of the points made here relative to Modell’s tenure on the NFL Network Committee were spoken to.
I heard a lot of ‘When you write the history…,’ inventor of MNF and visionary TV man, CBA negotiator, and nice guy.
Nor did I hear any of those simple or wrong themes challenged in a meaningful way in public dialogs. Maybe this happened in the conference room. Or maybe the seven choices simply elbowed him out. We don’t know.
But maybe too: our buttons are too easily pushed on this subject. I frankly did not see enormous support for Modell in the Baltimore Sun or WaPo forums. And I didn’t have so much as one troll in my forums. My gut says most Ravens fans are ambivalent and/or slightly against Art going to the Hall. They love him for sure, but can separate that from HOF worthiness.
Grossi confirms that false narratives are still being forwarded:
My talk brought immediate questions about the reasons for the move, Cleveland’s slowness in addressing Modell’s stadium situation, etc.
There was a lot of support voiced for Modell.
His supporters minimized the move of the franchise as a business decision. Also, the appointment of Ozzie Newsome as the first African-American to an NFL general manager position weighed heavily in the discussion.
I counted 13 selectors, besides Garceau and me, who contributed to the discussion. Six spoke passionately in support of Modell, six were against and one was fairly neutral. I am not permitted to report specifics of the arguments or even identify who was on which side of the fence.
But I will say that when the discussion wrapped up, I felt certain that Modell would advance past the first cut. He did not.
Although Modell’s support was strong in the oral arguments, obviously he didn’t have the votes. The silent majority prevailed enough to block him from advancing past the first cut.
Does that mean this was Modell’s last best chance to gain induction? I don’t think so.
I would very much like to know the nature of the confusion on “Cleveland’s slowness in addressing Modell’s stadium situation.” As in:
- Was it incumbent upon the city to inform Art that the Indians were unhappy and would leave at the end of their lease?
- Are the statements from Hagan and Forbes that offers were made to include Art in Gateway being ignored or impugned?
- Are the confused parties aware that the City held a lease binding Modell to Cleveland Stadium through 1998? If so, do they believe the remaining three years runway to address the stadium reflects slowness?
This tack seems to perpetuate a myth that doesn’t hold up. The fact of Cleveland taking care of the Indians and Cavs does not, in itself, mean the city was moving slow to tend to the Browns. Again, the Browns were bound to the stadium through 1998.
Anyway… we’ll stay vigilant. It’s probable we’ll need to set forth the accurate history again. The posts are indexed and can be found by clicking the ‘Modell’ category in the sidebar pulldown or using this link.
As for me, I enjoyed the hell out of this exercise. I learned a lot. The most interesting revelations for me were:
- The Clint Murchison private island + Carlos Marcello stuff;
- Modell and Suzanne Pleshette and I had no idea that she was so [sorry] hot in her prime;
- The pettiness from Modell toward his original partner Gries that we didn’t get into but was revealing;
- Short Vincent rocked;
- Al Davis was so much more than the cancerous goblin we saw in the last ten years;
- The cash streams of beer sales and parking must’ve been breathtaking… I suspect but can’t prove that accounting these monies did not conform to FASB standards and that this was the primary cause of Modell’s demise.
Net net: we happy. Many thanks to @TonyGrossi for speaking in the session. I don’t know but suspect we have a friend in Bengals’ beat writer @joereedy. Based on his interview on The RBS this week, I’m guessing Peter King was with us.
Many thanks to all who stopped by to check what we put out here on this subject. The responses were, actually, 100% positive and I am grateful.