The Ravens distributed a slew of quotes Thursday regarding the passing of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell. The final batch began with some lines from an unlikely source.
Jack Harbaugh, the father of Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, chastised those who have kept Modell out of the Hall of Fame.
“It’s so sad to hear of the passing of Mr. Modell. Scribes and pundits who believe in fairness and honesty dropped the ball today in allowing Art Modell to pass from this Earth without being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Jack Harbaugh said.
“In addressing this in Baltimore, you speak to the choir; in addressing this to those around the country, who grasp the contribution Mr. Modell made over five generations of being a pioneer and visionary in this great game and great league — highlighted by his leadership in negotiating TV contracts and being an owner for two NFL Championship teams — you speak to the choir. But, there is a narrow-minded corps of individuals who came up small today. Very small.”
Jack Harbaugh has the freedom to say whatever he wants to say. It’s odd, however, that the Ravens would distribute — and thus implicitly endorse — those remarks.
Modell’s passing necessarily will give his candidacy for Canton some lift; that’s what happened after former NFL coach Don Coryell died. And while it’s fair to ask why Bills owner Ralph Wilson got in and Modell didn’t, each man stands on his own merits.
It’s widely believed that Tony Grossi, formerly of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and now with ESPN Cleveland, has led the charge against Modell. It’s my understanding (not from our in-house Hall of Fame voter, Darin Gantt, but from another source) that it’s not true that Grossi has mounted an extended anti-Modell campaign.
Regardless of what happens in the future, the fact that Jack Harbaugh would engage in a public finger-wagging at the voters, and that the Ravens would shine a light on it, isn’t the best way to use the aftermath of Modell’s passing to launch an effort to get him enshrined.