Modell awaits Hall fate


NEW ORLEANS - While his Hall of Fame fate is being decided today, Ravens owner Art Modell will be in a familiar setting.

Known as the consummate league man, Modell will be attending owners meetings this morning while the Hall of Fame's 38-man board of selectors votes on this year's induction class.

Modell is one of 15 finalists for the Class of 2002, which will be announced today. The field is narrowed to 10 before final selections are made.

"I can't think of a more appropriate place for me to be," Modell said of the meeting.

The other finalists, 12 former players and two coaches, are: linebacker Harry Carson, tight end Dave Casper, defensive end L.C. Greenwood, punter Ray Guy, defensive lineman Dan Hampton, defensive backs Lester Hayes and Donnie Shell, quarterback Jim Kelly, offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg, receivers Art Monk, James Lofton and John Stallworth, and coaches Bill Parcells and George Allen.

While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the current ground rules state that between four and seven new members will be selected each year.

Each of the 31 NFL cities has a representative who will cast a vote along with seven at-large selectors. Sun columnist Mike Preston has the Baltimore vote.

"I have no reason to be optimistic or pessimistic," said Modell, 76, who completed his 41st season in the league. "I'm grateful of where I am. I am humbled by it. Whatever happens, happens. If I don't get in, I'm sure there are good reasons why."

Among Modell's major accomplishments were his working as chairman of the league's television committee for 31 years, his lobbying other owners in the '60s to share television revenues and his willingness to move the Cleveland Browns to the AFC when the AFL-NFL merger took place. He indicated each team's yearly television rights share went from about $350,000 in 1962 to about $80 million this season.

The only elected NFL president in league history (1967-69), Modell chaired the negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement with the players in 1968.

His chances of being selected also increased when the Ravens won the Super Bowl last January.

His biggest impediment to election is the controversial relocation of the Browns to Baltimore before the 1996 season. But Raiders owner Al Davis is in the Hall of Fame despite moving his team. Twice.

If elected, Modell would take his first steps in Ohio since the move. Canton is 60 miles south of Cleveland. "I intend to be there," Modell said. "And I'm not going to wear sunglasses either."

If inducted, Modell has said he would choose as his presenter his son, David, the Ravens' team president.

"The league has been good to me," Modell said. "The game has been good to me. Hopefully, I've been just as good to the league."

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