Modell misses cut as finalist for Hall

Unlike '02, Ravens owner not on Fame's list of 15 considered for induction

January 07, 2003|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell failed to repeat as a finalist this year as the Pro Football Hall of Fame narrowed its list to 15 yesterday.

Last year, Modell was a finalist for the first time but was passed over after being one of the most heated topics of debate. Other finalists from last year who did not make the cut this time around were defensive end L.C. Greenwood, punter Ray Guy, defensive back Donnie Shell and coach Bill Parcells.

Modell, 77, who enters his final season as Ravens owner, will likely return as a nominee for the Hall next year.

"That's the way the ball bounces," Modell said. "There are good people on that list. There are a lot of electors and lots of different opinions. I bow my head to those on the list."

This year's finalists are: running back Marcus Allen, defensive ends Elvin Bethea and Claude Humphrey, linebackers Harry Carson and Randy Gradishar, guards Joe DeLamielleure and Bob Kuechenberg, cornerback Lester Hayes, receivers James Lofton and Art Monk, offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman, quarterback Ken Stabler, coach Hank Stram, Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., and general manager-administrator George Young.

The Hall of Fame panel, composed of 39 media representatives, will choose at least four and no more than seven inductees to be announced on Jan. 25, the day before the Super Bowl.

Among Modell's major accomplishments over his 42 years in the league 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 Browns to the AFC when the AFL-NFL merger took place.

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

"I'm obviously biased," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "But for Art not to be in the Hall of Fame is an egregious error on the part of the Hall and diminishes the Hall in my opinion."

Although yesterday's announcement was a step backward for Modell, there is reason for optimism.

Wilson, the longtime owner of the Bills, was named a finalist yesterday for the first time in three years. That's why Modell's return as a finalist next year isn't out of the question.

So, does Modell think he will ever receive an induction to the Hall?

"I couldn't answer that," Modell said. "I have no control over that. If it happens, it happens. Either way, I'll be grateful for the years I've had in this league."

NOTES: Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a was signed to the Ravens' reserve-future list, meaning his contract will extend through the 2003 season. The four-year veteran backup was out of football this past season after being cut in September by the Tennessee Titans. ... Inside linebacker Ed Hartwell (shoulder) and fullback Sam Gash (ankle) both underwent arthroscopic surgeries and are expected to make full recoveries by the start of offseason camps. ... Safety Ed Reed finished third in the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. The award went to Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers.

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