It’s another close call, but another miss, for former Ravens owner Art Modell.
Modell was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class of 2020, but he was not among the three people selected from the contributor category when the group was unveiled Jan. 15.
The three contributors chosen from a group of 10 finalists included longtime New York Giants general manager and Baltimore native George Young; Steve Sabol of NFL Films, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who drew the ire of Baltimore when he snubbed the city for an expansion team in the 1990s.
In a departure from previous years, the Hall of Fame announced that in honor of the NFL’s 100th anniversary, a special 20-member Centennial Class would be inducted this summer — five modern-day selections and 15 others, including three contributors, 10 “senior” players who last played more than 25 years ago, and two coaches.
The expanded class figured to enhance the chances of induction for the late Modell, viewed as one of the game’s innovators and visionaries and one of the driving forces behind its prosperity of the past 50 years.
Modell, who died in 2012, was the brainchild behind “Monday Night Football” and was also instrumental in negotiating lucrative TV contracts. He served as the league president from 1967 to 1969 and was an owner for four decades.
About 12 years after the Colts made a midnight run out of Baltimore bound for Indianapolis, Modell brought pro football back to Baltimore when he moved his Cleveland franchise in 1996. The Ravens won their first Super Bowl title in his fifth season as owner, and he sold the team to Steve Bisciotti in 2004, one year after Modell was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor.
Modell has been a semifinalist or finalist for Hall of Fame induction several times, but his contentious decision to move his franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore in the 1990s has always been perceived as the major reason for his exclusion.
For Baltimore fans, the induction of Tagliabue will be an added sting. Tagliabue enraged Baltimore football fans in the early 1990s when the city lost out on a bid for an expansion team. He infamously suggested at the time that the city could use the money earmarked for a stadium to build a museum.
Joining Tagliabue in the Hall of Fame in the contributor category is George Young, a Baltimore native and longtime New York Giants general manager. Young, a graduate of Calvert Hall and Bucknell, broke into pro football as a scout with the Baltimore Colts and spent six years with the Colts and three with the Dolphins before joining the Giants.
Young’s Giants teams won two Super Bowl titles and he was named NFL Executive of the Year five times. He later worked for the NFL office as a senior vice president for football operations.
Here are the first 15 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class along with the years in which they played. The five modern-day inductees will be revealed on Feb. 1:
Harold Carmichael, wide receiver, 1971-1984
Jim Covert, offensive tackle, 1983-1990
Bill Cowher, coach, 1992-2006
Bobby Dillon, safety, 1952-1959
Cliff Harris, safety, 1970-1979
Winston Hill, offensive tackle, 1963-1977
Jimmy Johnson, coach, 1989-1999
Alex Karras, defensive tackle, 1958-1970
Steve Sabol, NFL Films, 1964-2012
Donnie Shell, safety, 1974-1987
Duke Slater, offensive tackle, 1922-1931
Mac Speedie, wide receiver, 1946-1952
Ed Sprinkle, defensive end/linebacker, 1944-1955
Paul Tagliabue, NFL executive, commissioner, 1989-2006
George Young, NFL executive, 1968-2001
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox