Art Modell has been named a Hall of Fame semifinalist

Cleveland Browns fans

The Pro Football Hall of Fame recently began narrowing its list of potential semifinalist candidates for the 2023 election class.

The senior committee narrowed its list to 25 former players, including Clay Matthews Jr.

Additionally, the Coach/Associate Committee narrowed its 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 listed as a coach/associate.

Both committees will further review their shortlists and select 12 candidates each to advance to the final stage, which will be announced on July 27.

To Browns fans, Matthews and Schottenheimer are no-brainers that should have been inducted years ago.

Matthews played almost 20 years in the league (including 16 years in Cleveland) and went to four Pro Bowls.

Schottenheimer played in the NFL, then coached some of the Browns’ most significant runs in team history, including “The Drive” and “The Fumble” games for the AFC Championship.

Modell, on the other hand, continues to be a pariah to the entire citizenry of Cleveland.

Modell’s tenure in Cleveland

Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and a little over a year later fired Paul Brown, the only head coach in franchise history to that point.

In 1964, the team won its fourth NFL title and first since 1955 with former Brown assistant Blanton Collier.

The following year, Cleveland missed out on a repeat championship when they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the title game.

In July 1966, Modell issued an ultimatum to Pro Bowl running back Jim Brown, who was overseas filming Dirty dozen.

He had to return from filming or risk having his salary deducted every week he missed training camp.

Brown 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 come close to another title game until Schottenheimer’s teams in the late 1980s.

After a rough 1988 season that was accompanied by multiple quarterback injuries, Schottenheimer and Modell found themselves at odds, and Schottenheimer left Cleveland.

Then, in 1991, Modell hired New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick as head coach and fired him after the 1995 season.

Unforgivable

By the end of the ’95 season, Modell had already told the Cleveland media that he planned to move the franchise to Baltimore.

He did just that and the Browns became the Baltimore Ravens.

Cleveland was without a 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 be gone in 2012 at the age of 87.

Hall material?

If the Coaching/Associate Committee is primarily looking at the number of seasons and championships won, Modell has a great chance to make the Hall.

Of course, that wasn’t enough to put him in the past.

Baltimore fans will surely root for Modell to bring NFL football back to the city that lost its beloved Colts after the 1983 season.

However, introducing a Model to Canton (just an hour from Cleveland) would be a low blow.

It’s a no-brainer for Browns fans to see the man who took away their beloved franchise enshrined for all eternity.

Modell is now 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 Coaches/Associates Committee needs to make a tough pass.

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