Jack Harbaugh calls out those keeping Modell out of Canton

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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.

32 responses to “Jack Harbaugh calls out those keeping Modell out of Canton

  1. Art Modell made millions of dollars in Cleveland and was given virtual ownership of Municipal Stadium. He skimmed that old ball park for 20 years and then stabbed one of football’s greatest fan bases in the back.
    If that is Hall of Fame worthy, so be it. But I don’t think so.

  2. I don’t really care what the parents of players or coaches say or think. But in this case…, the man is right. This has devolved into a personal action against the man who was a major contributor to what the game is today. Regardless of where you stand on the Cleveland/Baltimore move…, his greater contributions far outweigh this one. Modell lived and acted as a Hall of Fame man.

  3. I don’t understand how people can claim that there is some huge groundswell of support for him to be in the HOF. Art hasn’t even been a finalist in almost 10 years, yet someone those in Baltimore think that Tony Grossi can single-handedly keep him out. There are 40-some voters, and for 10 years now they haven’t felt Modell was worthy.

    Obviously it isn’t a “very small group of people” that feels he isn’t worthy, it’s the vast majority.

  4. Before I read a bunch of uninformed posts about how Modell “let” Cleveland keep the name, history, and colors, Modell was forced to do this by the NFL. Thousands of Clevelanders called and faxed the NFL offices for months and only then did he NFL force Modell to leave the Browns history in Cleveland. Modell fully planned on having the “Baltimore Browns.” Yes I am bitter that he took my team away, however I don’t wish death on anyone.

  5. As a lifelong Browns fan I tire of this Modell should be in the HoF chatter from Baltimore Ravens fans and those who have ties to the organization. They seem to have short memories or do they not recall Robert Irsay’s move of the Colts to Indianapolis? Where is their love for Robert Irsay after he ripped their hearts out?

    Modell foolishly spent his fortune then looked to Baltimore for a bailout only to foolishly lose his money again and then sell the team. So much for wanting a bailout and keeping the franchise in the family as he told Clevelanders so many years ago.

    He can have his moment of silence but I never want to see him in the HoF sitting with the best people of football, sorry Baltimore.

  6. Your Tony Grossi qualifier stating he is not one leading the charge against Modell’s HoF vote was verified yesterday on the local ESPN station.
    He said that yes, he had voted against Mr. Modell’s initial HoF entry but that as a person and as a football fan, he very much liked Art Modell and it was easy to tell from his voice that what he said was heartfelt. He praised Modell for many of his contributions to Cleveland and especially to the NFL. He also stated with more detail, the circumstances around the Baltimore move. Was apparent to me that as Modell said at the time, he had no choice but to move.
    I suspect Grossi will probably adjust his view when the next vote comes up

  7. Art Modell was many things, but a Hall of Famer he wasn’t. Hall of Famer dont mismanage their teams and relocate them for personal benefit. Even with the financial windfall Mr. Modell recieved in Baltimore he couldnt afford to retain ownership in the Ravens.

    Hall of Famers are the best of the best. Mr. Modell didnt compare to the Mara’s, Rooney’s, Hunt’s or Kraft’s.

  8. There is an argument for him to be in the hall and to be left out. This man was a lier and did not support the league. Oh yeah did I mention he fired Paul Brown. I dont care to hear anything out of Baltimore on this issue again.

  9. Modell left Cleveland and won a Super Bowl. LeBron left and won an NBA title.

    I understand why both are despised in Cleveland, but if you take emotion out of it there is no denying that both made solid business decisions.

  10. Being only 35, I am relatively young compared to many Browns fans and supporters. Some would say that I think this way because I don’t know or haven’t been around long enough. But I studied football. I studied football back to the point-a-minute Rams of the 1950’s and before that. Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, heck, even the Galloping Ghost Red Grange.

    That said, I know the history of the game, which stands far ahead of the recent history in my opinion. Yesterday I spoke at length about two negative points, his ultimatum forced Jim Brown to retire before he’d planned and of course the moving of the Browns – and even that point the finger is never aimed in the direction of former Cleveland Mayor Mike White and his cronies that led to Modell moving the team, though they deserve at least 48% of the blame.

    Modell was instrumental in the revenue sharing and sharing of the TV contracts that allow small market teams to be competitive. That allow small market teams like the Colts, Rams, Buccaneers to win championships and have a chance every year where other sports have the same 5 teams always in contention and the other 30 know they have no real shot and so do their fans. Pittsburgh Pirate fans, KC Royals fans know their teams will never be able to compete with the Yankees. It is Modells contributions to the game that say he should be in the Hall, not one act of moving the team.

    Bitter people who hold long grudges are unlikely to let it ever happen, though in my opinion, even as a lifelong Browns fan think it should. Maybe Mike White should have built the Browns a new stadium instead of telling Modell to kick rocks back in 1995. Maybe he is as much to blame for Ray Lewis being a Raven and not a Cleveland Brown. I don’t know if putting him in after his death (especially after he lived 87 years) does any good, the same with Pete Rose (different circumstances but he should be in the Hall just the same). But this fan thinks that he belongs, even if he took my team to Baltimore.

  11. art modell was loved by many who knew him. lots of raven players, staff, and f.o. folks. he did a lot for cleveland. anyone comparing model to bob irsay are so far off base. modell was all class. bob irsay was low class. his son, jim, i assume isn’t like his father. i hope.

  12. It isn’t a crime that Art isn’t in the Hall of Fame. In this world you reap what you sow, plain and simple.

    You want a real crime against a man who passed before making the Hall take a look at Gene Hickerson, #66 for the Browns. Watch any highlight of Jim Brown and you will see Hickerson annihilating defenders to spring Jim free.

  13. harbaugh needs to shut his old mouth.
    of course he’s going to side with modell; he GOT something from modell instead of having something near and dear to his heart taken away from him LIKE THE CITY OF CLEVELAND AND THE WHOLE BROWNS FANBASE.

    his one negative far outweighs any and all of his positives.

    its like saying someone who has donated to charity should be recognized as a great person even though they killed someone. not the best analogy, but i get my point across.

  14. Of all the football teams in the country to screw over, Modell chose the one 50 miles from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A message to the HoF voters: when you hear Clevelanders say, “Over my dead body,” they’re not being figurative. I know people who will go Hunger Games on Canton.

  15. Yeah would half way agree with Mr Harbaugh here. Much like Ralph Wilson and Dan Rooney; Modell was a pioneer in making the NFL what it is today.

    What is the obvious issue is he turned his back on a city in a time of financial struggle. Imagine the 2006 Toronto Bills or 1985 Salt Lake City Steelers?

  16. Modell does not belong in the hall. Period. For all of his positive contributions, the facts remain that his mishandling of finances led directly to his moving his team to Baltimore. He refused to sell the team to someone more financially stable, wanting to leave it to his sons, and chose instead to take the new stadium and pile of dough provided by the State of Maryland. Ironically, even with this windfall, he still could not manage his finances and eventually did have to sell the team anyway. He lost a lawsuit and had to leave the name and history of the Browns in Cleveland. I still have a copy of the Sun with that d-bag Glenndenning holding a Baltimore Browns cup. Even the league knew this was wrong, as they immediately granted an expansion team to Cleveland, an unprecedented admission that the Modell move was a mistake.
    The Ralph Wilson comparison is laughable. here is an owner of a team in one of the smallest markets in the league, playing in an old stadium, yet he refuses to sell or move his team. He manages his finances well, and refuses to screw over the fans in Western NY. That is why he is in and Art is not.
    People of Baltimore, I understand your love for this man. But let me ask you, will you be supporting Irsay for enshrinement when his turn comes? I think not.

  17. It’s as simple as this… He was broke. Modell could have sold the team to Al Lerner and kept the Browns in Cleveland… but he didn’t. He selfishly wanted to keep the Browns for his family. He tore the hearts out of an entire world-wide fan base.

    Bottom line, you can’t separate the good Art Modell did for the NFL with what he did to the city of Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere. It’s his legacy and the unfortunate thing about it is… he could have prevented it.

  18. I heard Mike Tomlin’s mom said Modell shouldn’t be in the HOF. So I guess we’re even. Seriously, who cares what Jack Harbaugh thinks?

  19. It was Modell who made the call to dress a dying Ernie Davis and run him out onto the field in order to sell tickets. He needed to get something back for everything he gave up to get the number one draft pick that was needed to get Davis, before it was known that Davis was sick.

    In my book that alone makes him a little too scummy for the Hall….

  20. Dear Jack,

    It is really quite simple. “They” did not keep Modell out of the HOF. He did it all by himself.
    What goes around, comes around, etc.

  21. The other night when NFL Films had a short tribute to him on NFLN, he said he would love to be able to make up with the fans of the Browns and that he loved the fans there, etc etc. Yet…he never returned to the city even to try to do that. He was a PR/advertising guy. Talking about it>>>>>(or at BEST= to)being about it in that world. He had every right to do what he did, he owned the team. However, legally correct does not always = the right thing to do.

  22. Cleveland Browns
    Regular season winning percentage under Paul Brown and McBride – .767

    Regular season winning percentage under modell and many coaches – .426

    This does not look very HoF worthy to me.

    And before anyone asks, this does not include the Cleveland Browns records after ’95.

  23. I understand why Modell did what he did (money trouble, the city not working with him on a new stadium, and a desire to keep the organization in his family) but his decision was short-sighted and extremely selfish, imo. He still ultimately had to sell the team b/c he was short on cash and destroyed all of the goodwill that he’d spent decades building in Cleveland.

    He should’ve just sold to Al Lerner and avoided dragging his name through the mud.

  24. 1. Cleveland chose to build the rock n roll hall of fame and Jacobs Field instead of a new football stadium.
    2. He is the reason we have Monday Night Football.
    3. He was one of the first to draft and employ african americans. (Jim Brown and he made Ozzie Newsome first black GM)
    4. Helped the NFL get the lucritive TV contracts that have helped make it a $9 billion a year business.
    5. He did what HOF Al Davis did. He moved a team.

  25. mattforbid- you need to do some fact checking.

    1. Cleveland chose to build those things first, not instead.
    2. He helped broker the deal for MNF. It was not his idea. He is far from “the reason”.
    3. He bought the team in 1962. Jim Brown was drafted in 1956. So, um, no. (Yes, he did make Ozzie the first black GM.)
    4. Ok, yes, I’ll give you this one.
    5. He did HALF of what Al Davis did. Al Davis eventually moved his team back to Oakland.

  26. Cleveland…the City and the losers that inhabit it and the surrounding area are losers for a variety of reasons. This is just another one.

  27. Art Modell was a great man who had lost millions of dollars after 2 years with practical ownership of the stadium because the city couldn’t afford it’s upkeep anymore. After warnings that he would leave, the last straw was when the Indians were built a new field.

    Also, Cleveland fans have no room to talk at all. Cleveland went 3 years without a football team, and was given special treatment by the NFL to keep all of their logos and history and everything.

    The Colts took EVERYTHING. And the NFL did nothing. Baltimore was desperate for a team, which they weren’t going to get as an expansion team. After all, it’s not a coincidence Baltimore hates the Redskins and the Redskins’ owner and the commissioner of the NFL were such great friends.

    It was a rational move that the Mayor of Cleveland and Governor of Ohio both knew was coming because they were told a good amount of time in advance.

    Art Modell was a brilliant man, the league would be no where close to what it is today without him, and for that reason alone he should be in the Hall of Fame.

    And yes, I am a Baltimore fan, but it is extremely obvious that if he hadn’t made the move, he would easily be in the Hall of Fame, and that is just a shame.

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