“It’s about as long a discussion as we’ve ever had,” said voter Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. “It was a very competitive class.”
“I was just very happy happy for him, very happy for his family, and happy for Baltimore,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who appeared in a pro-casino campaign ad with Ogden last fall and called him her favorite player. “It's a good omen for tomorrow.”
Sentiment for Modell
Modell, who died in September at age 87, was a finalist for the first time since 2001. It was an important milestone for his Hall of Fame candidacy, because unlike the semifinalists, who are winnowed down through a mail-in vote, all 17 finalists were actively discussed by the panel of media members that picks the Hall of Fame class.
“We are obviously disappointed, but extremely grateful that Art Modell was considered among 17 high quality candidates,’’ his son, David Modell, said Saturday. “It really is an incredible honor to be considered. We love Art and were disappointed for him, naturally, as people who love each other would be, but the Modell family is so excited that the Baltimore Ravens will be playing in the Super Bowl tomorrow with my father’s name on their chests.”
Modell was one of the first five candidates eliminated as the voters narrowed the field on Saturday.
Many NFL executives, including Newsome and Bisciotti, have called for Modell’s induction, noting his 43-year tenure as an owner and his leadership in building the league’s television presence and in adding diversity to its front offices.
Modell was widely admired in Baltimore, both because he restored pro football to a city that had lost its beloved Colts in 1984 and because he embraced his new home through major philanthropic efforts in the arts and medicine
He also had strong advocates among the Hall of Fame voters, but skepticism about his case lingers, with some voters saying they can’t get past the fact he wounded a loyal fanbase when he moved his franchise from Cleveland.
Modell said he had to make the difficult decision to avoid bankruptcy. But many Browns fans have never forgiven him and continue to campaign against his induction to the Hall of Fame, located only 60 miles away from downtown Cleveland.
He also faced stiff competition on the ballot, which some voters called the deepest in memory. Others who fell short of selection included former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie Debartolo Jr., New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and Charles Haley, a brilliant pass rusher for multiple teams. Voters say it’s extremely hard for owners and coaches to beat out players.
“It’s not just that they hate Art because he left Cleveland,” said longtime Baltimore broadcaster Scott Garceau, the city’s representative on the selection panel. “I think maybe the greater reason is that it’s very tough for contributors.”
Garceau said he told Modell before he died that “you know you were Hall of Fame caliber. It’s just a matter of when the [voting] room catches up to you.”
Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Schmuck and Aaron Wilson contributed to this article.
Born: July 31, 1974 in Washington, D.C.
High school: St. Albans
Drafted: By Ravens, fourth overall in 1996
Career highlights: An 11-time Pro Bowler (1997-2007) who ranks third in games played by a Raven (177) and is second in games started (176). … 10-time All-Pro (1996-2004, 2006). … Super Bowl XXXV champion (2000). … Helped Jamal Lewis set a franchise record with 2,066 rushing yards in 2003, the third-most single-season rushing yards in NFL history.