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WRONG. The correct answer was Slumlording the Indians.

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 7.33.06 PM

WRONG. The correct answer was Slumlording the Indians.


We had 586 IP-address-restricted (thus unique) replies to the poll question:

Which Modell activity is most disqualifying for Canton?

Below is why the most correct answer was:

Slumlording the Indians.



Modell does not make Canton in 2013.




We’re pleased that Modell didn’t get in this.  No denying it. (more…)

Art Modell’s ties to bookies and gamblers.

Moldea has written perhaps the most important sports book in the history of the language. — Keith ‘Never Given to Hyperbole’ Olbermann

One item that has been strangely absent from the Modell HOF talk is Modell’s documented relationships with many … how shall we say it?

We’ll just say it:  Modell was connected to many mob guys.

I don’t know why this hasn’t been brought up earlier.  I only stumbled onto the subject by accident.  There are 39 HOF voters and all them are journalists, right?  Not to mention the legions of media types currently asking the same questions over and over again on Media Row in New Orleans this week.



Why has not this data been discussed in the months since Modell was named a Hall-of-Fame finalist?

Your sports press corps at work.


Let’s just agree that sports journalism’s reliance on its subjects as also sources creates a conflicted (parasitic?) (it’s not symbiotic.) relationship that generally precludes real investigative journalism and certainly no muck-raking — effectively cheerleading — which results in the reflexive log-rolling and dulled ‘Question Authority’ impulses that make sports media people unworthy of the title Journalist and wholly un-respected by the readers they purport to serve and we’ll quietly move on from that question.



While surfing google today (looking for any info on how Modell fell out with Gries), I found an except from Interference:  How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football from Dan Moldea, published in 1989.  The book is long out of print but of course you can a hard copy online.  Chapter 11 was excerpted; here is the link.

Moldea’s book is not Modell-centric.  The excerpt I read begins with Clint Murchison (Cowboys), touches Modell, then moves onto William Clay Ford.  It’s all interesting.  For example, we documented earlier that Modell and Murchison hung out together on Murchison’s private island in the Bahamas, but we haven’t talked much about Murchison’s bankruptcy in the 80s.  Nor have we discussed Murchison’s ties to Carlos Marcello.  But Moldea does in the linked excerpt.

I spoke with Mr. Moldea on the phone.  He was great.  He’s ok with my sharing what I found it here.  So let’s get started.

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Marden’s Riviera, Ft. Lee, NJ. closed 1953, demolished 1954
Sinatra, Martin-Lewis, Milton Berle, Lena Horne

Here’s a review Modell’s known gambling ties.


Ben Marden
Casino operator in Havana and Fort Lee, NJ (The Riviera).  In 1931, Marden bought a hotel just north of the NJ anchor of the GW Bridge.  Ft. Lee resident Albert Anatasia was an investor, Meyer Lansky an associate.  Retractable roof to dance under starlight, revolving stage so acts were on continuously, and the neon sign was visible for miles.  Acts included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Martha Rae, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey. (more…)

Clearing the decks.

Saluting Athens and Holmes counties.

Frozen with indecision on the direction to take with the next post,,, so hows about a Frowndup so to speak?  One replete with employment of the royal ‘we’ .. use of which is also a subject of indecision this morning.


Can you write about the history of the game without using that person’s name?
We were struck to find this phrase used to describe the number one criterion for HOF induction in Newsome’s piece yesterday after it had been employed by Jamison Hensley in his pro-Art column yesterday (here).

But we’re growing to disturbed after unearthing two more HOF voters working the same bogus-ness:

This question is pretty touchy-feely.  Philosophical questions are raised.  If we introduce Kierkegaard’s concept of “Truth as Subjectivity,″ then we suggest that you can’t write the history of pro-football without using the @jimkanicki twitter handle.  Kant might agree.

To our thinking, this premise reflects base laziness and absolves the voter from any responsibility for research.  Much like our attempt to the move the discussion of Modell’s HOF induction toward review of his credentials, here is another challenge presented to us to topple ingrained thinking.  It do get wearying.


Ozzie Newsome: Obtuse sycophant or just really loyal?

Ozzie Newsome, 2012

We knew this was coming.  I guess.

Ozzie Newsome wrote a pro-Art opinion piece for the The Plain Dealer today.

Let’s just work through this and see what we find.  Ozzie’s words are in grey.



I am a Cleveland Brown and I will always be a Cleveland Brown. I was proud to wear that orange helmet for 13 years and represent all those great Browns fans who were so good in supporting my team throughout my career.

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.

If Art were an architect: Nashville’s Batman Bldg.
Also in portfolio Boston City Hall and Huntington Bank Bldg.

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?

What a convenient, bizarre, absurd, subjective metric this is.  We’re supposed to play “Let’s Pretend” in order to make the case for Art.  Can we play dress-up too?

[Other names you can’t write NFL history without:  Pisarcik, Norwood, Pardee, Jackie Smith, Earnest Byner, Bart Scott, Drew Bledsoe… if you’ve got more, log em in comments here.]


You can’t write the NFL history without Art. He was an architect of the game we love today.

Architect is a large word.  And there are good architects and bad architects.  True enough, Art was the architect of:

  • a .500 record post Paul Brown in Cleveland;
  • the money-first NFL TV policy;
  • ransoming regional taxpayer bases for public funds to subsidize a monopoly.

Fair.  Agreed.  Art was an architect.


The first person who recognized that television and football were perfect for each other was Art Modell. He did that in the 1960s, became the chairman of the NFL’s TV committee and had that job for 31 years.

O RLY? (more…)

Falsest equivalency: Al Davis and Art Modell

1980:  That's our RedRight88 trophy.

That’s our RedRight88 trophy.

I don’t mean to be a one-trick pony here with the Modell HOF thing. But -quick update- it’s becoming clear that the argument in favor of Art is centered on:

Ok Art, you win this round.

  1. Rozelle’s ‘right hand man,’ willing to speak at league meetings, liked by other owners;
  2. TV;
  3. Other owners in the Hall moved their teams; if Al Davis is in, Art should be in.

The first bullet speaks to Art’s likability. We have no reason to doubt that he was a nice man; I liked him too.  Round of applause for dating Suzanne Pleshette.  But is adroit cronyism really a HOF credential? This is the Hall-of-Fame not the Hall-of-Affable-Bon-Vivants.

Television we dealt with in the big post. (I’m surprised that many hang in with Art on this. It was good to hear Peter King yesterday say that he looks at the TV contribution through a prism of ‘could someone else have been as effective?’)

But the third generated a reflexive Tourette’s spasm. whatthefuckareyoushittingme?  Check this quote and see if you don’t have the same reaction:

” ‘… I asked [Modell] about his chances of ever reaching Canton. His response: “I know [Raiders owner] Al Davis is in and he moved the team twice. Doesn’t that say something to you?’

It’s hard to argue against Modell on this point. … The Hall can’t have one set of rules for Davis and another for Modell.”  — Jamison Hensley, ESPN

No Mr. Hensley, it’s easy to argue Modell’s point.  You just need some objectivity and curiosity.


Where to start with this false equivalency?

They were two Jewish kids from Brooklyn. That’s where it ends. (more…)

Wow. Thanks.


Yesterday’s Modell piece got some traction.

Trajectory not sustainable.

Trajectory not sustainable.


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.)


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:


… 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.