“I’m not about to rape this city as others have done. You’ll never hear me say, ‘If I don’t get this I’m moving’” (The Document that every Pro Football Hall of Fame Voter should see before deciding on Art Modell)

by Cleveland Frowns on January 30, 2013

One significantly under-remembered fact about Art Modell is that he was sued by Browns season-ticket holders when he moved the franchise to Baltimore after the 1995 NFL season. The Plaintiffs were a class representing all 1995 Browns season ticket holders, and they sued Modell and the Browns for fraud, breach of contract, and violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, with all claims relating to Plaintiffs’ “right of first refusal” on tickets for the following season – a precursor to the Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) of today that was an element of the package sold to the Plaintiffs before Modell moved the team. In sum, the season-ticket holders alleged that Modell & Co. sold them a right that they never had a chance to exercise thanks to the Browns’ surprise move to Baltimore, and that they were owed a refund for that.

Modell and his partners ended up settling the case for $3 million after the Court (Judge Kenneth R. Callahan, ret., Cuyahoga County Common Pleas) ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on Defendants’ summary judgment motion. Which would be water long under the bridge by now if there weren’t still folks in Baltimore making arguments (however half-hearted or half-witted) that Modell suddenly deserves to be in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame now that he’s passed away. But since Modell is a finalist for the Hall for the first time since 2004, up for a vote by the Selection Committee this Saturday, the lawsuit is of profound relevance today, especially because certain of the documents filed in it set forth the case against Modell’s enshrinement as concisely as any source that’s out there (though if you’re unfamiliar, I recommend you view @jimkanicki’s post on the subject here, and I’ve outlined some of the most basic principles militating against Modell’s Hall candidacy several times as summarized here).

So, I work at a law firm, Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer that was founded in part by the two Cleveland attorneys, Josh Cohen and Ellen Kramer, who brought the case against Modell, and was able to dig up the casefile, the most interesting part of which for now being Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Modell’s Motion for Summary Judgment. This document, as well as any, sets forth the pattern by which Modell lied to the people of Cleveland, and, like most summary judgment papers, cites a number of authenticated documentary exhibits, along with pages of sworn deposition testimony. This includes pages from Bill Belichick’s personal notebook, and testimony from the likes of Belichick, Modell and Al Lerner themselves. I’ve posted the document here (and below), along with some of Belichick’s handwritten notes referenced therein, and will get into some of the highlights (lowlights) below.

Again, here is a link to a copy of the brief against Modell, and here’s a link to a copy of Belichick’s handwritten notes. Now for the high(low)lights, starting with some of Modell’s public promises that he wouldn’t move the Browns out of Cleveland.

In a February 1994 Plain Dealer front page exclusive interview with Modell:

“The questions and answers focused on the Browns’ expectations in negotiating with the City, which had just begun. … During the interview, Modell [said] that the Browns would remain ‘in Cleveland [for] as long as his family own[ed]‘ them.” Modell added “that it might become ‘economically impossible for his team to ‘compete’ if the City failed to make the concessions he was seeking, [but that] would compel Modell only to consider selling the Browns, not to [move the franchise out of Cleveland]. Modell used strong language to emphasize this point: “I’m not about to rape this city as others in this league and others have done …. You’ll never hear me say, ‘If I don’t get this I’m moving. You can go to press on that one. I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.” – Page 6, Footnotes 23-25

Almost a full year later, Modell renewed his promise:

“In a January, 1995 interview with Browns News Illustrated, the team’s official publication[, Modell said]: “I wouldn’t consider moving the team … If I don’t get a new stadium or a refurbished stadium by the end of the current sublease, I’m not going to move the team. But I will sell the team to someone who might move it. – P 7, FN 27-28

As it turned out, however:

Modell’s pledge was a sham, intended only to keep the heat off the Browns while they tried to secure an advantageous stadium deal. From the time lease negotiations began, Modell intended to rob Cleveland of its football team if the City did not accede to the concessions he was seeking. Modell’s lawyers were explicitly making this threat behind closed doors in January, 1994, even before the owner’s gallant promise not to “rape” the city with such tactics.” – P 8-10, FN 29-37.

Al Lerner, Modell’s accomplice in the heist by any remotely credible account, had an explanation for the vast discrepancies between Modell’s public statements and behind-closed-doors threats that only a billionaire could understand:

The man [is] speaking in two different forums; one .. to the board of directors, another for public consumption. I would assume that what [Modell] says in a magazine is done to influence events, and … what he says at a board meeting is done to report on events.” —  P 11, FN 38

To Lerner:

“[The two versions] did not have to necessarily match up with each other.” - P 11, FN 39

For his part, Modell couldn’t help but acknowledge that fans were “stunned by the announcement [of the move].”

“Absolutely, absolutely, I had no choice, I wasn’t gonna give them a forewarning.” - P 11, FN 40

And even an April 20, 1995 entry from Bill Belichick’s personal notebook contained an entry, “recording a directive given by [a] Browns executive,” stating:

“Publicly don’t say anything about moving the team.” – P 12, FN 41-42

BB1
By October of 1995, the Browns were still denying the move despite having “consummated” the deal with Baltimore, including through Modell’s son David, who responded to talk radio callers who asked about a “potential” move as follows:

“That’s baloney. No, no, no, [there is absolutely no truth to that]. Nothing. [Cleveland] is my home … where I’ve grown up. This is where all my kids are being raised. This is where – this is – this is my home.”

While Art had at times said he might sell the team to someone who might move the team if it became “economically impossible” to do otherwise, he “never publicly indicated that this contingency had come to pass,” and in fact, at no time in ’94 or ’95 did he even consider selling the Browns.

And about those repairs that Modell said he so badly needed Cleveland to pay for, to the Stadium that he himself called “a danger to society”:

“[Cleveland Stadium Corporation, or CSC] — the company that Modell controlled and partially owned — bore the explicit duty under its lease with the City to maintain the Stadium at ‘its own expense’ in ‘good and safe repair.’ This obligation required CSC to remedy all physical problems both ‘inside and outside’ the facility, regardless of whether they were ‘structural or non-structural, extraordinary or ordinary’ In negotiating a new stadium deal, Modell was looking to the City to expend public money for repairs that he himself (through CSC) should have performed in the first place … [But] CSC chose to enrich its owners rather than apply profits to keeping the Stadium “in good and safe repair” … Half of the company belonged to Alfred Lerner … [who] admitted to receiving as much as $200,000 annually from CSC on the basis of his fifty-percent interest. … Modell owned the other half of the company.

“[Additionally], Modell’s lease with the city for Municipal Stadium required the Browns “to hold and maintain its exclusive NFL franchise for ‘the City of Cleveland … and not to do … anything which will cause … [it] to be lost or impaired in any respect, or transferred to any other city or location, or modified to permit the Browns to play [elsewhere].”-P 3-4, FN 6-16

So again, it’s not at all just about Modell’s plainly lacking qualifications for the Hall apart from the move, but just as much about his profoundly disqualifying acts in taking the Browns away to Baltimore; the worst kind of precursor to the “sports welfare for billionaires” culture that’s since become a regressive norm.

How does this guy get in the Hall by any way but a massive structural failure in the Selection Committee’s process? Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear an answer as to whether Modell’s Cleveland attorneys in the above-referenced lawsuit believe he deserves to get in, and why? Even a “no comment”?

One of those attorneys is Rob Ducatman, who still works at Jones Day, the firm through which he represented Modell. I can personally vouch for Ducatman as one of the sharpest and most quotable attorneys I’ve ever met (I worked for two years and a summer at Jones Day’s Cleveland office while Ducatman was there). Maybe someone on the Selection Committee can get him on the horn. In the meantime, I can send you Modell’s summary judgment papers to which the above was a response if you think you’re up for 67 pages. But of course this is all public record, so if there was anything to be used in support of Modell’s Hall of Fame case in his own briefs, surely someone in Baltimore would have published it by now.

—————

Here’s a response by Kanicki to Ozzie Newsome’s most recent op-ed in support of Modell.

—————

UPDATE: “You can’t write the history of Pro Football without Art Modell”

  • GrandRapidsRustlers

    This needs to be right in front of everyone on the selection committee. The note from Bill to me is the final nail. The good news is that if we get past this year I am hopeful we won’t have to deal with this for a while.

    • manc

      If Modell doesn’t get in this year, he’s never getting in. I can’t believe this is something that could actually, you know, happen.

  • http://twitter.com/irregulara Scott Johnson

    Not that it would help, but you should throw all these docs up on Scribd so the media, etc.. can link to them.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Done. That was much easier than I thought it would be. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    Interesting that Belichick knew things were in the works in the spring of 1995 when for years we’ve been sold a story that Belichick and Mike Lombardi had the Browns “moving in the right direction” when they were blindsided by the announcement during the season.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Belichick? Being duplicitous? Surely that’s not possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/woodstaypolished Chron Dick

    let me articulate myself very clearly here BURN IN A PISSY LEPRECY BEDBUG INFESTED HELL ART MODELL, thank you good people of this website

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Extra like for LEPRECY.

  • http://twitter.com/klejdys Klejdys

    Modell’s name coming up frequently as a guest of organized crime members during the 50s and 60s (as detailed exclusively in Dan Moldea’s awesome book, Interference (http://www.amazon.com/Interference-Organized-Influences-Professional-Football/dp/068808303X)) surely should be damning as well, except that it would damn about 1/3 of the NFL’s “reigning” families, including the Maras and Rooneys. Modell was often seen at their casinos offshore, gambling up a storm. A must read if you’d like to know how all of those families went legit or want to read about many NFL owners/players ties to mob figures. The irony is the Baltimore Colts first owner, Carroll Rosenbloom, was the shadiest, most connected of them all (he died suspiciously after taking over the Rams and his wife, Georgia Frontiere, took his Rams to St. Louis). Like Vegas, though, they all got cleaned and corporate, and most of the history is forgotten.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      your link is dead.

      agreed on rosenbloom.

      i would love to dig into the this. in particular, when art had the stadium he had millions in small-note cash streaming through him from beer, hotdog, and parking sales. it strains belief that all that all of it was reported and made it to a bank.

      but i haven’t seen anything on this.

      • GrandRapidsRustlers

        A million likes…my Dad used to always wonder where all of the $1 and $5 dollar bills ended up. It boggles the mind that this man lost money.

  • Ward Anderson

    Amen. Fuck Art Modell and the horse he rode in on. Makes me sad to read this bringing up old memories from my childhood. We need to do all we can to keep his name out of Canton.

  • JasonPercy

    Although he succeeded in influencing the HOF vote denying Modell admission in 2002, I worry that Grossi will not go into this weekend’s meeting with all cylinders firing. As some of you have mentioned previously, there is something profoundly disturbing about the fact that all of the good journalism on Modell’s candidacy is being done by non-journalists. We have been waiting for a comprehensive, substantive, exhaustive take-down of Modell’s Hall of Fame bid to come from at least one of the hacks at the Plain Dealer or even the ABJ, but it hasn’t come and likely won’t.

    If the local press cannot even rise to the occasion at a moment like this, one has to ask when it ever will. It’s sad, but also not completely surprising.

    And so we have to rely on the (excellent) work of those like Peter Pattakos who is a lawyer by trade and does this on the side. Is there any way we can do more to get the word out? As awesome as these posts are (Lyndall, Kanicki, and Pattakos have been lights-out on this story) it only highlights the dearth of good journalism from those who are designated by the national media as “representing Cleveland.”

    • nj0

      MKC is busy coming up with new ways to describe Weeden’s arm.

      • JasonPercy

        While the rest of the PD readership is chasing uniform redesign right down a rabbit hole of vapidity.

        • nj0

          And fighting the Chinese.

        • jamick6000

          “rabbit hole of vapidity” — nice line.

  • nj0

    Like most Clevelanders, I know the facts of the Move. But still…. Reading this makes as mad as I was back when it happened. I mean, Art’s own words have him raping the city. That’s what he did. And he said he wouldn’t while planning to do so!

    I get why the pro-Art crowd hand waves away the Move. I get why they say, “get over it’ and ‘it’s ancient history” and “stop being bitter”. I understand why they do everything they can to distract from the actual facts of the case.Because when you look at it, you cannot deny how horrible the Move and Art were.

    Not to sound melodramatic, but to brazenly lie for your own gain at the cost of hurting millions of people sounds like a dictionary definition of evil.

    • JasonPercy

      I’ve always thought Baltmore’s support of Modell is tied to persistent feelings of guilt and hypocrisy relating to their embrace of the Ravens. Since 1984, Baltimoreans have recited the story that the Colts “stole away in the middle of the night in a blizzard” and scored huge sympathy points with the national media. The Modell myth not only absolves them of hypocrisy, but it also allows them to embrace the unembraceable.

      This fight over Modell’s HOF candidacy isn’t only about the Browns and Art Modell – it’s about not letting the truth get whitewashed by self-interest.

      • nj0

        Amen. I don’t even care all that much about the HOF as much as the whitewashing. “He let you keep the team name, uniforms, and history!” Ignoring the city’s lawsuit and all that Baltimore Browns swag they were selling.

        • JasonPercy

          I remember Art Modell standing next to Parris Glendening (Gov. of Maryland) on the podium at the Baltimore Airport in November 1995. Behind them was a banner that said “Welcome Baltimore Browns.”

          Glendening was waving a damn “Baltimore Browns” glass mug with an “I just screwed your wife” grin plastered across his face.

  • disqus_7eRMZTcsBi

    Awesome work, Peter. Really, really hope that this can get to Grossi and the other voters. I cannot believe how the narrative has changed since The Great Satan of the NFL died.

    • nj0

      Art, his sins, and his posthumous praise reminds me a WHOLE LOT of what Dick Nixon went through – a pariah while alive who suddenly gets all his sins forgiven and his achievements magnified once his corpse gets dropped in a hole.

      And, much like Nixon, when you actually go look at what Art did and read what he said, you realize that maybe “speak no ill of the dead” shouldn’t apply here.

  • BIKI024

    didn’t know lying to local fanbase had anything to do with the selection process. he doesn’t deserve to get in, nothwithstaning any false promises he made. way to keep kicking a guy in the head while he’s 6 feet under. the guy is not getting in, you guys sound like the people who was so concerned and tut tuttimg about Christine O’Donnell winning the Delaware Senate race when she had zero zilch nada chance of winning.

    • nj0

      Lack of a pulse does not absolve one from criticism for one’s deeds.

      • JasonPercy

        Does Richard Nixon deserve to be on Mt. Rushmore now that he’s also “6 feet under”?

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          fun fact: nixon did more to do change the blackout rules than ‘TV man’ art did. when the skins made the playoffs in the 72, none of the pols got to watch the games in DC. the AG suggest congress review of NFL’s anti-trust exemption.

          and bam: blackout rules changed in 73.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NFL_on_television#Blackout_policies

          • nj0

            That is a fun fact.

            From HST’s F&L on the Campaign Trail:

            “Whatever else might be said about Nixon —and there is still serious doubt in my mind that he could pass for Human— he is a goddamn stone fanatic on every fact of pro football. At one point in our conversation, when I was feeling a bit pressed for leverage, I mentioned a down & out pass —in the waning moments of the 1967 Super Bowl mismatch between Green Bay and Oakland — to an obscure, second-string Oakland receiver named Bill Miller that had stuck in my mind because of its pinpoint style & precision.

            He hesitated for a moment, lost in thought, then he whacked me on thethigh & laughed: “That’s right, by God! The Miami boy!”

            I was stunned. He not only remembered the play, but he knew where Miller had played in college.”

          • jpftribe

            Nice, really nice…..

      • BIKI024

        yeah but it’s 18 year old story. who cares, he has no shot in hell in making it in.

        • nj0

          that’s just your opinion man

          fact is, he is a finalist so it is possible. if he wasn’t a finalist, we’d all be bitching about haslam.

          • SeattleBrownsFan

            Yes, we’ll get back to Haslam bashing next week! Art is in the crosshairs until Saturday. #Artout

          • humboldt

            I don’t know, distrusting the super rich seems pretty rational to me…

          • BIKI024

            not that difficult to be named a finalist. i just don’t see him getting 80% of the vote, especially when they can only choose 5 people out of the 15. there are some far more worthy choices:

            Here’s my prediction who gets in:

            Contributor: Parcells

            Players:
            Strahan
            Larry Allen
            Ogden
            Sapp

          • Bryan

            Is it true that the number of inductions is capped at 5 each year? What if 10 people get 80% of vote? Is it the top 5 vote getters?

          • BIKI024

            actually my bad, there are no limits on new enshrinees, all they need to do is get 80% of the vote. http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/SelectionProcessFAQ.aspx

          • nj0

            who is to say that he won’t be back next year? who is to say that his support won’t grow?

            as long as they keep setting it up, we will continue to knock it down

          • BIKI024

            word up brotha, keep on truckin

          • nj0

            i agree that the vitriol for at is ridiculous. that’s why i applaud frowns’ and jk’s attempt to steer the conversation back to the facts for or against art’s hof resume

        • humboldt

          How many years must elapse before we are no longer permitted to collectively care about an injustice? Is this consistent across all injustices for all time? We eagerly await your analysis with bated breath.

          #c’monman!

          • BIKI024

            well i guess we have a difference of opinion on what constitutes an injustice. but go ahead and keep crying over spilled rotten milk, it really has no positive impact at all on the future of the team so i could care less. and i really don’t think any voter would be swayed by the opinion of a jilted fanbase, of course they know how Cleveland fans feel about Art.

          • humboldt

            The public was unequivocally lied to, and a civic asset was ripped from the city. This not only had economic repercussions it also exacted an emotional toll on the region. The aftershocks from the move are still being felt today, after a decade-and-a-half of feckless football in the expansion Browns era.

            You could certainly say that relative to the great injustices of humanity this one is quite small. But to argue that no injustice was committed, and to reduce our collective response to this situation as “crying over spilled rotten milk” is risible. It almost makes me wonder if you are trolling. Yep, that must be it.

          • BIKI024

            i just don’t think he has any chance in making it in that’s all

          • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

            “…it really has no positive impact at all on the future of the team so i could care less.”

            So you’re saying you care?

          • BIKI024

            no i don’t care one way or the other. if he doesn’t get it in, fine by my, and if he does, good for him. what do i know if he deserves to get in, if 80% of sportswriters who have access to first hand knowledge of what Art contributed behind the scenes. yes it sucked as a Cleveland fan that he moved the team, but afterall this is a business and the guy got brokered a helluva deal. mazel tov art you greedy bastard, but if you get voted in, then, it is what it is.

    • JasonPercy

      WTF? I think Art has a VERY good chance of getting in, particularly given the fact that over 30 of the 48 selectors were not on the committee that rejected Modell in 2002. SInce Modell died there has been quite a bit of national posturing in support of Modell. With the Ravens in the SB this week I think there is a significant risk.

      As for Christine O’Donnell, I think her candidacy foreshadowed the fact that The GOP was being taken-over by nut-jobs and bigots. Even if she lost in 2010, Michelle Bachmann has been successful at the polls, as have several other crackpots. And one needs to look no further than the GOP Primary candidates to see that the party has lost all semblance of credibility in practicing 21st century politics in America.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      hey lookit. my goal has been to set the record straight.

      * art’s the guy who said if al davis is in, he should be in.
      * ozzie’s the guy who said modell was the first person to recognize football and tv as an opportunity.
      * shapiro is the one who said we should be grateful to art because we have a nice stadium.

      it’s not about dancing on anyone’s grave. it’s not, repeat not, a bitter fan thing.

      it’s about correcting the false record that is being put forward from national sources.

      • nj0

        Amen.

      • BIKI024

        he also hired Ozzie to be the first african american GM in NFL history

        • nj0

          30 years after the first african american GM in the NBA, 25 after the first in MLB

          trailblazing like that is hall worthy

          • BIKI024

            buddy i never said he was hall worthy, in fact quite the opposite. as far as the 3 contributors nominated, it seems to me that Parcells would be the leading candidate, then Eddie, then Art, and I highly doubt they enter 2 this year, let alone 3.

          • nj0

            And we (or most of us since I can’t speak for everyone) are not saying he never did a good thing in his life.

          • Chris P.

            eddie augmented his team with ohio whenever he could despite the fact that he didn’t have to and owed nothing as owner of the 49ers to city and state

            art was afraid to step foot in the state after taking the soul out of it despite the fact that he owed everything he ever accomplished to the city and state

            i’d say “point eddie” except ‘a’ point hardly does it justice.

    • SeattleBrownsFan

      I think you’re missing the point.

      The lying to the fans and the city about his true intentions is just the icing on the cake for a man who was an expert in, and who made a career of, duplicitous behavior.

      Since so much of the national argument is about Cleveland Brown’s fans “getting over it”, it is important to counter that argument with information specific to The Move so that people understand the entire context of what happened (if that is all they will focus on) and show that Modell wasn’t the saint and victim he is being made out to be by his supporter’s revisionist history and propaganda.

      But even if we exclude The Move, when you look at Modell’s entire body of work in the NFL, his actions and behaviors are not worthy of HOF enshrinement.

      Thank you Frowns, Kanicki and others for fighting the good fight and getting the truth out regarding The Move as well as the details about the rest of his sorry-ass life. #Artout #GoGrossi

    • alexb

      “didn’t know lying to local fanbase had anything to do with the selection process.”

      well that and putting up a stink when season ticket holders want their money back seems a bit of a dealbreaker to me don’t you think?

    • jamick6000

      I remember my first time concern-trolling.

  • Bryan

    Frowns: Did the Judge ever rule on Summary Judgment or did the case settle before then? If the Judge ruled in your favor (throwing out the motion for Summary Judgment) that would add more power to this document.

    Also, what were the counter arguments in the Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment? I imagine they address some of these issues directly. Did they have any reasonable arguments?

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      The judge ruled against the summary judgment motion. Note that I was not working for any firm or with any lawyers that worked on this case while they were working on it.

      • Bryan

        Interesting and powerful stuff.

  • JasonPercy

    Kanicki makes a great point: I think, at least in the year 2013, that the thing that is most irritating about Modell’s candidacy isn’t necessarily a byproduct of the move itself, but rather outrage at the revisionist history that is being peddled by those who absolutely ought to know better.

    Add in a huge dose of hypocrisy from the Baltimore press corps and you have what amounts to an abuse of the public trust by an institution (the press) which has a duty to serve it.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I too think this is a great point.

  • humboldt

    Frowns and Kanicki – thank you both for standing alongside Grossi and others to form a phalanx of justice! Civic duty is much appreciated

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Hear hear!

  • CrazyTrain1

    I assume that season ticket holder/class member Rodger Saffold (mentioned in the brief) is the father of the Rams Tackle? If so, I am now a big fan of Saffold.

  • jpftribe

    Frowns
    Best post ever. Really courageous. It is what it is for the whole world to see.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    jamison hensley recycled his pro-art rap today.

    september 13
    today

    the same al davis comparison, ‘contributed to growth,’ committee attendance, and of course:
    “You simply can’t write the history of pro football without Modell.”

    he does broaden his davis comparison to focus more on dan reeves now, so maybe he’s been reading. but it’s the high pockets kelly gambit: if high pockets kelly is in, then [player x] should be in.

    i dont think this guy is stupid so i must think he’s corrupt.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      You can’t write the history of Germany without… well, you know. Historicity has nothing to do with the worthiness of a person. What a total canard.

      • Chris P.

        Or Israel

    • nj0

      Can we also stop these “contributed to growth” arguments? Not just for Art, but for any exec trying to get into any HOF?

      I accept the fact that an exec could seriously contribute an in-sight or development that grows the league, but please prove it. And show your work. I just find it hard to believe that if some other owner served on the broadcast committee rather than Art then the NFL would have ended up like the NHL.

      And can one of these pro-Art guys just do an itemized list of actual accomplishments and achievements? Most of it is vague contribution talk.

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        man, i’m with you.

        i’ve debated all these ‘growth’ arguments on their terms, but imo, there are more and better metrics than revenue growth for HOF ‘contributor’ creds. issues such as fan enrichment that aren’t even on the table.

        in other words, let’s say art signs a big contract. the ‘goodness’ is measured in dollars. that there are now 20mins ads/hour in a game doesnt even get brought up.

        say what you want about augusta national but they cap their ads to 5mins/hr. they do because a. they want the watchers to have a good experience and b. because they can. it’s questionable whether point ‘a’ got discussed much in art’s committee meetings even though ‘b’ is surely in play.

    • willy loman

      The “You can’t write the history of pro football without Modell” argument is the worst. The HOF’s mission statement claims “to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football” not those who would be featured in an NFL history book.

    • LordofLight

      Regarding your “corrupt” comment, I’m beginning to get suspicious as well. These articles are so vapid and lacking in evidence and besides, why would any of these Baltimore writers care? Admittedly, it’s only a small and perhaps unrepresentative sample in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve lived in the Beltway now for 15 years and know quite a few Ravens fans. Their views on Art in the hall range from undeserving to (mostly) completely apathetic.

    • manc

      You can’t write the history of the NFL without Donny Anderson and Joe Theismann either. A dumb, amorphous statement by Newsome, and it points up the vagueness of any argument in Modell’s favor.

  • CleveLandThatILove

    Holy mackerel. Thanks for the education, Frowns and Kanicki.

  • alexb

    I didn’t care either way about Modell but after reading that legal document, wow….just wow. The NFL has some nerve even putting that mans name in consideration for the HOF. And Belichick? what a slimy little cocksucker…..I didnt’ think it was possible to dislike him and that Patriots more than I already have. I’ve had a soft spot for the Giants since 07 but this may make them my 2nd favorite team now seeing. By beating those slimy little cnts twice the Giants have more than made up for losing to the Ravens in 01. In my mind at least.

  • GrandRapidsRustlers

    The amount of links to this and Kanicki in the ESPN comment section on the Hensley Modell nonsense brings tears to my eyes.

    If that cesspool of filth can gain some knowledge maybe there is hope for all of us.

  • Coachie Ballgames

    Really excellent and thorough work on this. Forest for the trees would say it’s sad how the American sports structure pits cities against each other time and time again, thus distracting from any real change, i.e. your point on municipal ownership/interest. Time and time again, a city that was burned gets pitted against a city it takes a team from. Seattle taking the Kings from Sactown after losing the Sonics to OKC, St. Looie taking the Rams from L.A. after losing the Cards to ‘Zona, etc. etc. ad nauseam. Nobody wins except the owners and nothing ever changes.

  • chris prasek

    30+ years us fans put an enormous amount of cash in that man’s pocket. In the end, he failed us as an owner. Thumbs down! If he were to get voted in, I hope Browns Nation would turn the weekend in Canton into complete shambles just like he did to us fans.

    • SeattleBrownsFan

      Look, I won’t be happy at all if he gets in, but I disagree…if he does get in, the best thing that Browns fans could do is ignore the whole thing. Protesting or disrupting things won’t reverse the decision to enshrine him. All it will do is make Browns fans and Cleveland look bad on the national stage.

      • alexb

        I agree…nothing good can come of it. If he’s voted in he’s voted in, no protest will change that. Somebody just needs to egg David Modell’s car either as he’s coming or leaving.

  • http://twitter.com/chuckohio charles ryals

    Just imagine the angst we would be feeling today, if Modell had gotten his way and kept the name/colors! Baltimore Browns? The hate would be doubled!

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Brad Seely on Eric Mangini and his own decision to leave the Browns for San Fran:

    “He was a friend of mine and I didn’t think they treated him right. It’s always hard to stay when a friend is released,” Seely said.”

    http://espncleveland.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=11701

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    There are a lot of good comments to this post on the Reddit NFL board, including about how Modell and his fellow owners could have gotten a team to Baltimore sooner, but used the city as a lifeboat, keeping it hanging until one of them needed to “pull a Modell.”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/17kibb/im_not_about_to_rape_this_city_as_others_have/

  • jamick6000

    Is there a hall-of-fame for millionaire extortionists of poor cities? Maybe we can placate idiot sportswriters by inducting Art into that one.

  • http://twitter.com/Alwi_Eisner Mark Eisner

    Born and raised Baltimorean checking in here (I was 23 when the Colts left town and remember it vividly). Cleveland, I feel your pain. I was displeased when the Ravens arrived, for it seemed we (and Modell) did to you what Indy (and Irsay) did to us.

    Certain key facts make it not entirely parallel:

    1. You were assured an expansion team in short order, which happened.
    2. You kept your name, logo, colors and history (so to speak, on the last).

    I never would want Bob Irsay in the HOF, regardless of how much of a football visionary and magnate revisionists might want to suggest. He was an evil man, and always will remember him thusly. We all will.

    A few years ago when the Ravens visited Indy for the playoffs, I was at the dentist the following day. Leaned back and mouth agape, the dentist whips out his cellphone to show me a picture his son (who attended the game at Indy) had sent him. This college-aged guy had urinated on Irsay’s gravestone. My heart warmed. I giggled and swallowed some piece of dental equipment too (another story).

    The point is you feel as you do, and always will. Modell is dead and cannot enjoy the fruits of his enshrinement. You have your new team, and the parity rules of football always place you only one good draft or shrewd trade away from contention. That it has not happened is more bad luck than anything. It must happen, the odds are with you, and soon perhaps.

    Little is gained by continuing a legacy of personal avarice against the man, if his deeds for football as a sport are otherwise worthy of enshrinement. The Browns were his family business, and he made a business decision to move them. Maybe you would not have (and I, as a business owner, also would not have), but let his candidacy stand, or fall, on its own merits.

    Be better men and women than Modell was on that fateful day. End the war.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      This is ridiculous. Get a clue about the difference between a war and standing up for a principal that if respected, actually prevents wars.

      • http://twitter.com/Alwi_Eisner Mark Eisner

        That principle (note spelling) being that the man broke a promise to the fan base, not to move the team? As I said, I’m not unsympathetic. He was punished by the Courts and paid millions per your site’s hyperlinks. He has been tried, convicted and sentenced. He also did much for football as a sport, particularly relating to its stature with TV and as a sport with an unrivaled national following. Four other people who shifted franchises are enshrined. You have a replacement team. Yes, he broke a promise. You already won by preventing him from enjoying his HOF moment. You would continue to punish his children? Just asking.

    • Sam

      We will end the war — victoriously. Mr. Grossi will lay the facts out and those voters who have not been convinced already by their own experience or by the fine work of bloggers such as Kanicki will see the Modell candidacy for what it is — a celebration of the NFL’s good old boy network and power to kick fans in the teeth if they do not submit to demands, and sometimes even if they do submit to demands.

      You will still have your Super Bowl win and maybe another this weekend, you will still have your rivalry with the Steelers that used to be ours, and you will still have your linebacker off murder charges scot free. But Art Modell will not be in the Hall of Fame. As you folks like to say, get over it.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Well put.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      “… if his deeds for football as a sport are otherwise worthy of enshrinement.” Okay. If this deeds were worthy, sure. But they weren’t – the oft-repeated idea that he was some prescient genius on the future of television has been debunked, here and on Kanicki’s site. There have been clear-headed, unemotional objections made to the guy’s worthiness to the Hall based on merit alone. You should understand that before accusing us of harboring no more than personal avaraice towards Modell.

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