CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s probably not entirely accurate that there would be no “Monday Night Football” without Art Modell. Somebody would have thought of it. But the fact is, he did, as the NFL’s broadcast chairman. He also got the Thanksgiving Day games off the ground. More importantly, he gave the league its’ first black General Manager, Ozzie Newsome.
And he still can’t get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Modell was denied yet again this year, even after they expanded the class during this, the NFL’s centennial celebration (the three inductees in the Contributors category were former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, longtime G.M. George Young and NFL Films’ Steve Sabol).
Because, while Ozzie went to bat for Modell, too many others will never get over “The Move.”
Other owners have moved their franchises. Al Davis did it twice. And he’s in the Hall of Fame.
But Al Davis didn’t own the Cleveland Browns. I have a lot of love for some of those colorful Raiders fans. They made the Black Hole special.
But it ain’t the Dawg Pound. And the Coliseum wasn’t Municipal Stadium.
Ah yes, the stadium.
That, of course, was at the heart of the move. Heart being the key word, because that’s exactly what Modell ripped out of an entire region. He was stuck in a dilapidated stadium, watched his old tenants (the Indians) get a brand new one, couldn’t fix things politically, and oh yeah, also obviously had a hard time balancing his checkbook.
He also owned the distinction of being the guy who fired the two greatest coaches in football history, Paul Brown and Bill Belichick.
Modell’s supporters will remind you of his charitable work, how much he gave to causes in Northeast Ohio. And that’s laudable.
But no amount of money can replace what he took.
His legacy is robbing one of the NFL’s best cities, and fanbases, of its’ most prized possession. A quarter of a century later, they’re still trying to get it back.
I remember thinking, like a lot of people at the time, that if Cleveland can lose its football team, any city can. And ever since, other cities have ponied up to build new stadiums and keep their teams.
So, thanks, Art. I guess.
But that wave should have started here.