Art Modell’s name is on the list of finalists for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Coincidentally, Hall of Fame voting takes place this Saturday meaning that somewhere around dinner time, give or take, we will all know whether or not Art Modell will be forever be referred to as Hall of Famer, Art Modell. With this latest kick to the teeth looming it’s only natural that everyone is talking as nauseum about whether or not Art Modell will be, and more importantly should he be, enshrined.
Radio hosts have spent hours dissecting this topic over the past two weeks. ESPN has had various analysts give their take on the subject. Peter King detailed his point of view both in writing and in interviews last week. The Plain Dealer and The Baltimore Sun have engaged in a war of words over the matter. Then today Ozzie Newsome chimed in with an editorial piece on Cleveland.com.
Opinion is very divided on this. Those in support of Model praise him for how he helped shape and mold the league into what it is today; that he was both a pioneer and visionary well ahead of his time. They also praise the fact that he was a great person. Most egregiously, Modell supporters have attempted to play the “just get over it” card while at the same time attempting to tell Modell detractors how they should or shouldn’t feel.
Meanwhile, detractors of Modell’s candidacy have not once attacked his character as one of the all-time good guys in the game, but rather they have done an excellent job of poking holes in his resume and offering an overwhelming amount of evidence to counterpoint every positive Modell ever did for the NFL. They point to the fact that there is no denying the good Modell did both for the league and the community, but that one has to weigh quality versus quantity. Does a list of 1000 rights make up for 2 or 3 monumental wrongs? That’s the discussion that has to be had.
As is the case, most of you are probably wondering where I way in on all of this? Afterall, that’s why most people come here regularly is to know my opinion on various things. So what’s my opinion? Well, here are the only facts that matter to me in this whole thing.
Art Modell took the Browns, a civic treasure and one of the defining franchises in the NFL’s history, and moved them to Baltimore. In the process, he broke and iron clad lease with the city. He swore he would never move the Browns out of Cleveland and then did it anyway. He was screwed over time and time again by city officials, most notably Mayor Michael White, but rather than use the emotions of one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports to build public opinion and pressure the city into building a new stadium he became determined to label Michael White as the man who let the Browns leave Cleveland. Grown men cried. Pittsburgh felt sorry for us. The Browns have NEVER been the same.
I’m sorry, but Art Modell should not be in the Hall of Fame. Can’t happen. Not ever. That’s just how I feel. And while I understand people will call my negative feelings juvenile and immature, they are just as valid as your positive feelings. Just remember, I lived this nightmare from one side of the fence and you from the other.
For those saying this is stupid and that we as Clevelanders need to get over this, I’ll close with this…
What if you were us?
If the Browns had never moved to Baltimore and you never got a football team back, would you still be mad?
If the Colts had won their Super Bowl before you, could you just “let it go?” Or would you say, “That should have been us!?”
What if at the same time, instead of having the Ravens as the juggernaut we have come to know them over the past decade plus, you had a team that routinely picks in the top 5 of the draft, has made one playoff appearance, and has averaged a record of 4-12 or 5-11 over that span?
What if you were constantly the butt of jokes and the forgotten team of the NFL year after agonizing year? Would you be able to “let it go?”
What if, on top of ALL OF THAT, Robert Irsay…your version of Art Modell… was one majority vote away from being enshrined into the Hall of Fame?
Could you just “let it go” or would you be throwing the same fit as us?
If you think you would just let it go you’re lying to yourself.