Recently, the Pro Football Hall of Fame began whittling down their list of potential semifinalist candidates for the 2023 election class.
The Seniors Committee narrowed their list to 25 former players including Clay Matthews Jr.
Former Browns linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., owner Art Modell named senior, contributor Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists https://t.co/MagoXo14Yd pic.twitter.com/2o539wWAd9
— Ron Bohning (@RonBohning) July 8, 2022
Additionally, the Coach/Contributor Committee reduced their list of candidates to 29, which includes former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.
Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the Browns from 1980-1988 (the last four and a half years as head coach), is also on the Coach/Contributor list.
Both committees will examine their lists further and select 12 candidates each to move on to the final stage, which will be announced on July 27,
For Browns fans, Matthews and Schottenheimer are no-brainers who should have been inducted years ago.
Matthews played nearly 20 years in the league (including 16 years in Cleveland) and went to four Pro Bowls.
Schottenheimer played in the NFL, then coached in some of the most significant Browns contests in team history including “The Drive” and “The Fumble” AFC Championship games.
Modell, on the other hand, continues to be a pariah for the entire citizenry of Cleveland.
Modell’s Cleveland Tenure
Modell bought the Browns in 1961, and just over a year later, fired Paul Brown, the only head coach in the franchise’s history to that point.
#OTD in 1963 Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell fired legendary coach Paul Brown. Brown had been with the team since its founding in the 1940s. pic.twitter.com/2VQOUOkOzD
— SportsPaper (@SportsPaperInfo) January 8, 2018
In 1964, the team won their fourth NFL Championship and first since 1955 with Brown’s former assistant, Blanton Collier.
The following year, Cleveland missed a repeat championship when they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the title game.
In July of 1966, Modell issued an ultimatum to Pro Bowl running back Jim Brown, who was overseas filming the Dirty Dozen.
He was to return from filming or risk being docked his salary each week he missed training camp.
Brown had planned to retire after the ‘66 season, but called Modell’s bluff and retired immediately.
Cleveland later played in back-to-back championships in 1968 and 1969 but lost both games.
The organization didn’t get close to another title game until Schottenheimer’s teams in the late 80s.
After a rough 1988 season that was beset by numerous quarterback injuries, Schottenheimer and Modell found themselves at odds and Schottenheimer left Cleveland.
December 27, 1988: Goodbye Marty🏈#Browns Marty Schottenheimer resigns after 5 yrs as Head Coach. Unable to align w/ owner Art Modell or relinquish playcalling duties, both agree time to move on. Marty also DC (1980-1984) shaped team makeup for a decade #MartyBall #TheresAGleam pic.twitter.com/lCRUgJi0MB
— On This Day: Cleveland Sports (@CityfanC) December 27, 2021
Then, in 1991, Modell hired New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick as head coach and dismissed him after the 1995 season.
By the end of the ‘95 season, Modell had already told the Cleveland media that he was planning to move the franchise to Baltimore.
Today in 1995, Browns owner Art Modell announces he’s moving the team to Baltimore. That sign is a little unfair though – to Dr. Kevorkian. pic.twitter.com/7xFx8jzc6z
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) November 6, 2019
He did just that and the Browns became the Baltimore Ravens.
Cleveland had no team for three years until the new Browns returned to the league in 1999 as an expansion team.
In 2000, the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants.
Modell then sold the Ravens in early 2004 and he would pass away in 2012 at the age of 87.
If the Coach/Contributor Committee looks primarily at the number of winning seasons and championships, Modell has a great shot at getting into the Hall.
Of course, that hasn’t been enough to get him inducted in the past.
Baltimore fans will surely endorse Modell for bringing NFL football back to the city that lost their beloved Colts after the 1983 season.
February 9, 1996: Art Modell brings the National Football League back to Baltimore.
One of the most consistent and respected franchises in all of sports was established 25 years ago today.
Happy birthday, @Ravens! pic.twitter.com/ht2ZR84uuN
— Bobby Trosset (@bobbytrosset) February 9, 2021
However, to induct Modell into Canton (barely an hour from Cleveland) would be a low blow.
For Browns fans, seeing the man who took away their beloved franchise enshrined for all eternity is unconscionable.
Art Modell is not worthy of making the Hall of Fame.
Not ever. pic.twitter.com/dMk9MLNDqK
— Cleveland Sports Talk (@CLEsportsTalk) December 19, 2019
Modell is already honored in Baltimore as a member of that organization’s Ring of Honor.
Considering how he treated former Browns players, coaches, and Cleveland in general, the Coach/Contributor Committee needs to make a hard pass.
Any self respecting Browns fan would never want to see Modell in the Hall of Fame. How many years are we going to have his name shoved in our faces? When you sneak a team out of town in the middle of the night you have something to hide! It was Browns fans who gave the NFL such an ear full that they finally agreed to let us keep the team name, colors & history. This man has no business in the Hall of Fame.