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In what had become a recent trend, former Ravens majority owner Art Modell’s name is included on the list of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010.
Modell earned semifinal status for the sixth time in the last seven years, but he only made it to the final cut once, in 2001. He was also a semifinalist from 2004-07, and again in 2009.
As the man who brought the NFL back to Baltimore by 1996 in moving the former Cleveland Browns, Modell’s Hall-of-Fame credentials have been widely debated. His influence on the league is unquestioned, however.
Modell was the chairman of the Owners Labor Committee in 1968, which successfully negotiated the NFL’s first players’ collective bargaining agreement, he served on the NFL-AFL merger committee and he was a key negotiator with ABC to launch “Monday Night Football,” where his Browns won the inaugural showcase, 31-21, over the New York Jets.
Even though he is reviled by many fans and reporters stung by the Browns leaving Cleveland, Modell gets annual support from many the players, coaches and NFL insiders he touched.
“Without Art Modell, old school owner. And I hope the voters get this right — by putting Art Modell in the Hall of Fame,” said former Ravens safety Rod Woodson during his Hall of Fame induction speech earlier in the preseason. “He belongs there.”
Woodson’s words were met with a smattering of boos from the Cleveland supporters in Canton.
“You can boo him because you disagree with him moving them but you can’t disagree with he him did as an owner,” Woodson continued.
Modell was the Ravens’ majority owner from 1996-2004 before selling the team to Steve Bisciotti. Modell did retain the title of minority owner, and he is still a big part of this team. Not a week goes by when I don’t see Modell watching practice at Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills sitting in a golf cart on the sideline.
In addition to Modell, former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe made the semifinal round.
The roster will be trimmed to 15 members on Jan. 7, and the inductees will be officially announced on Feb. 6.
The other 21 semifinalists: wide receiver Cliff Branch; wide receiver-returner Tim Brown, receiver Cris Carter; coach Don Coryell; running back Roger Craig; running back Terrell Davis; center Dermontti Dawson; defensive end Richard Dent; defensive end-linebacker Chris Doleman; linebacker-defensive end Kevin Greene; guard Russ Grimm; punter Ray Guy; defensive end-linebacker Charles Haley; cornerback Lester Hayes; linebacker Rickey Jackson; defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy; defensive tackle John Randle; receiver Andre Reed; receiver Jerry Rice; running back Emmitt Smith; former commissioner Paul Tagliabue; special teams ace Steve Tasker; and cornerback Aeneas Williams.