So today let’s pretend that Art Modell never moved the Cleveland Browns. Let’s pretend that there are no Baltimore Ravens and that the team never came and that the NFL continued to ignore Baltimore as a home for a franchise. Maybe some of our younger readers don’t remember the 13 years without the NFL, but I do.
I said it on the radio earlier this week and I mean it with every ounce of truth and conviction possible: “The sheer fact that the Baltimore Ravens exist is nothing short of a MIRACLE for our community – a God send!”
Of course, this begs the question for our purposes: Would Art Modell be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never moved the Browns?
OF COURSE HE WOULD!
Here is a “fantasy” nightmare that is not at all far-fetched:
In November 1995, after Baltimore agreed verbally to take the Browns, Art Modell went back to the city of Cleveland one last time and state of Ohio agreed to build him a new stadium. (Somewhere John Moag is reading this and saying: “I would have NEVER let that happen!”)
Had Cleveland stepped up, this would have essentially ended any hope Baltimore ever had of getting back into the league. If Art Modell and Bill Belichick draft Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden and the Browns win a championship in 2001 and the Baltimore Ravens are never heard of by anyone, who in the NFL would’ve cared about Baltimore? Certainly not Paul Tagliabue, who would’ve had us building more museums.
There’d be no Vinny Testaverde. No Ted Marchibroda. No stadium downtown. No Army-Navy. No Jamal Lewis. No Ring of Honor. No Monday Night Football. No draft day parties. No wins. No losses. No purple anything.
Brian Billick would’ve wound up coaching in San Diego or Houston or someplace. Oh, that’s right there wouldn’t be any HOUSTON either. Houston was essentially the “other” expansion city that was forced into the equation by the league making an exception to make Cleveland the 31st (and oddball number) team.
There’d be no M&T Bank Stadium. No Purple Fridays. No Purple Sundays. No parades. No basements painted purple. No road trips. No quarterbacks or coaches to kick around. No NOTHING!
Imagine this: EVERY piece of clothing, hat, shirt, photo, memory and story in your life that involves the Baltimore Ravens and that logo would VANISH — evaporate, like it never happened. No Festivus, no Ray Lewis, no flags on our cars, no Roosts, no Nests, no purple Christmas lights, no purple Santa hats, NO TAILGATES!
All of the stories, friendships, laughs and tears and complaints about the Ravens would’ve never happened.
And there’d certainly be no WNST radio station or WNST.net, from my own personal perspective, which is why I’m so passionate about getting Art Modell into the Hall of Fame. On a personal note, it’s the least I can do for him after all he’s given me by bringing the team to Baltimore and making it a franchise that I’m proud to promote and support.
And if the Baltimore Ravens never existed, Gerry Sandusky wouldn’t be calling NFL games. And Scott Garceau would have never become “the voice of the Ravens.” And Anita Marks would have never become such a huge Ravens fan. And Mike Preston would be back covering high school track meets. And that’s just a small portion the local media, who have ALL fed their families for years on the backs of Art Modell’s move of his NFL franchise to Baltimore and have run for cover this week when it comes to having Modell’s back when his name is on the ballot for consideration. (I’ll be writing about that tomorrow!)
If this city doesn’t stand up for Art Modell now, it’s shameful. A disgrace, really!
Hell, if Modell doesn’t bring the Ravens to Baltimore, this city is Youngstown or Charleston or someplace like that. Maybe Norfolk or San Antonio or Sacramento?
And the stench of Peter Angelos’ dreadful ownership and baseball team would be ALL we have to talk about. (This alone is a reason to put Modell in the Hall of Fame. Art Modell might’ve saved my life and my sanity with the Ravens!)
For years, we’ve all said that Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden would be the first Ravens to go into the Hall of Fame but I’m going to backtrack now. The first Raven who goes into the Hall of Fame should be Art Modell.
Lord knows, he won’t die or be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Cleveland Browns family. He’s OUR family and we should stand up for Art this Sunday night.
Go ask Shannon Sharpe. Go ask Rod Woodson. Go ask Ray Lewis or Jon Ogden. Go ask anyone with any sense of the history of the league or the founding fathers of the league whether Art Modell is a Hall of Famer. The only ones making any case against Art are the people who still have a grudge from Cleveland, which I’ll really never understand. The people of Cleveland and the state of Ohio and Browns fans around the world have all LONG since been made “whole.” MORE than whole if you consider the stadium, the deal they got and the fact that they hated Modell anyway.
Of course from our perspective in Baltimore, his crowning achievement came under duress when to save the financial future of his family he was forced