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Canton: Most say Modell's legacy here not HOF worthy

12:09 AM, Feb 2, 2013   |    comments
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CANTON -- Art Modell can be called by many names, but here's a new one: finalist for the Class of 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame.

While his Baltimore Ravens head to the Super Bowl this weekend, there are still three years without football that Cleveland fans will never forget.

"You know to not have a team for three years, hurt a lot of people," said John Shaheen.

The three black marks from 1996, 1997, 1998, scarred Art Modell's legacy in Northeast Ohio.

"Art Modell should not ever be in the hall of fame, not ever. He screwed it up, for himself," said Victoria Gordon.

Months after his death, could this be the year his fingerprints on Monday Night Football and other accomplishments finally land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

At Jerzee's Sports Grille, just steps from the hall, it's hard to tell.
"I'm sad for his family, but I don't think that should give him any extra points as far as getting in the Hall of Fame," said Marc Lally.

"During my career, I had little respect for Art Modell," said Don Cockroft.

Unlike many fans, storied kicker Cockroft's look back at the 1980's Kardiac Kids has changed his mind. During the four years he spent writing about the team and its owner, he revisited his relationship with Modell frequently.

"Art Modell was really just a glorified fan. If you won, he loved you, if you lost, he didn't," said Cockroft.

"That's what I experienced during my NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. If I made that game winning field goal, the man was in the shower, hugging me, saying thank you, thank you. If I missed a couple kicks, it was a glare, it was a stare."

Modell's love for the game, and his league think mentality brought football into American homes on television. But it took a team away from Cleveland.

"As much as he's done with Monday Night Football and everything, even though he did move the Browns, it was a business decision. I'm not happy with the way Paul Brown went, but I'm not knowledgeable as [Modell] is," said Gary Thompson.

"My own experience with Art prompted in my heart and my mind, we got to forgive. Right or wrong, we got to forgive," said Cockroft.
Forgiveness could still be coming, if not this year.

While he's been nominated in the past, this year is the first time Modell's been a finalist.

But he'll have to get 80 percent of the 46 person vote to get in. Cleveland's media representative, Tony Grossi, says he will vote against Modell.

The 2013 Class will be decided Saturday evening in New Orleans.

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