The Pro Football Hall of Fame will welcome it’s 2013 class this weekend, and the class of seven goes across a wide spectrum. From star players who put up great numbers (Cris Carter, Warren Sapp), to players who made their mark in the trenches (Jonathan Ogden, Larry Allen), to a multiple Super Bowl-winning coach (Bill Parcells) and players who were contributors on winning teams (Curley Culp, Dave Robinson).
Soon after Saturday night’s induction ceremony and Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game, the conversation will start to turn toward the class of 2014. Among those sure to be up for serious consideration is Art Modell, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Modell’s tenure as owner of that franchise (1961-2004) was not without controversy, but does he deserve induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014?
Modell fired legendary coach Paul Brown early in his tenure as owner, which may have caused the Internet to shut down if it happened now. Brown led Cleveland to seven league titles prior to Modell buying the team, and the franchise’s nickname was his own surname.
Modell had a big hand in the league’s growth in the 1960’s, serving as NFL president and using his connections to help negotiate the league’s television contract. The Browns, surely not by accident, played in the first prime time Thanksgiving game the league had (1966) as well as the debut of Monday Night Football in 1970.
Modell took control of Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, which was also home to the Cleveland Indians, in the early 1970’s. But a dispute over the funding of improvements to the stadium, after the Indians moved to Jacobs Field in the early 1990’s, led to Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore in time for the 1996 season.
Modell sold most of his stake in the Ravens to minority owner Steve Bisciotti in 2004, and died in September of 2012 at the age of 87. Jaded Browns’ fans surely disagree with me, but Modell’s contributions to what the NFL has become make him a worthy Hall of Famer for 2014.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.