Former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell was bypassed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame vote and for good reason. Modell, who died this past fall, infamously yanked the Browns from Cleveland, Ohio following the 1995 regular season and moved the team to Baltimore, Maryland to become the Baltimore Ravens.
The move of the team could not have come at a worse time for Browns fans as their team was a pre-season Super Bowl favorite for the 1995 regular season. The Bill Belichick coached Browns started the 95’ season off hot, winning three of its first four contests. But after the team and the city got news that the franchise would be moving to Baltimore, the team crumbled. The team limped to a 5-11 regular season finish, despite winning its final game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, 26-20.
Modell unjustly moved the Browns despite the team selling out every game for over 20 years straight. Modell sought out a new stadium with luxury boxes and believed Cleveland was not the city to put this upcoming stadium in. Although the Browns were able to keep all their franchise records and were able to return to the NFL in 1999 following a three year absence, Modell’s decision to move one of the original franchises in the NFL is unforgivable. Football was created in Ohio and there are arguably no fans more passionate than those in Cleveland when it comes to football, regardless of if the team is having success on the field. Modell removing the four-time- NFL Champion Browns from Cleveland will likely cost him any chance at getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Modell didn’t make the first cut when the field was narrowed from 15 to 10 candidates last night. In 2002, Modell was a finalist but did not reach it to the top 10 of finalists that year either. At least five of the 46 Pro Football spoke out against Modell, several voters said. The public opinion is that Modell won’t ever be a finalist to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I don’t think his name will come up again,” said Newsday columnist Bob Glauber. “That’s my gut feeling. There was a bit of a groundswell because he had passed away, but the level of indignation is such that it won’t happen for a while.
The decision to move one of the leagues’ most storied franchises will always hurt Modell’s chances for Hall of Fame consideration in the eyes of many.
“In my opinion, moving the Browns kept him out once again,” said Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News. “The fact that he ran into so many financial difficulties while owning two NFL teams was a negative against him as well, but the move was a very big factor.
“I personally have issues with a owner who will move his team in the name of needing money and a better deal and then he goes to Baltimore and needs to sell the team for money,” said Orlando Ledbetter, beat writer of the Atlanta Falcons. “The fans of Cleveland rightfully would’ve freaked out had he gotten in and I think that the right decision was made.”
Justice has been served twice now with Modell being denied of the Hall of Fame. Cleveland will never forgive Modell for how he tragically moved the Browns in 1995 and it appears neither will the Hall of Fame Voters who denied him once again for Hall of Fame consideration.