That conflicted sensibility lies at the heart of Modell's inability to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite his 43-year legacy as an owner and shaper of the league's television dynasty. And voters say it's not at all clear that his death will improve his chances.
"His candidacy has faded the more people think about the Cleveland experience," said Newsday columnist and Hall of Fame voter Bob Glauber. "When you rip a franchise out by its roots, especially one with that kind of history and rabid fan base, it just makes it almost impossible to put him in that spot. I can't get past it."
Ravens officials — from owner
"I am so saddened with one thing," Ebersol said. "Art did not get to experience an induction into the Hall of Fame. The leaders in Cleveland, when he moved to Baltimore, put Art in an untenable situation and left him with the hard choice of moving. That scarred some people on Art. I hope in death Art is placed where he should be — in Canton in the Hall of Fame."
Modell made a list of 15 finalists for the Hall in 2001 but was not selected. Modell's candidacy has not even gained that level of traction in recent years. He generally makes the list of 26 semi-finalists — he did not in November of 2011 — but advances no farther.
His death will have no technical impact on the process of considering his candidacy. Any change would have to occur in the hearts and minds of voters.
"I would hope the fact that he's being talked about, that's he's in the spotlight like this, will put him more in the front row," said Baltimore broadcaster Scott Garceau, who's going into his ninth year as the city's representative on the Hall of Fame selection committee.
Garceau has long advocated for Modell's entry along with a few other staunch supporters such as
The bitter feelings from Cleveland are part of the problem, Garceau said, but perhaps a lesser factor than fans assume.
"A bigger issue is that a lot of voters have a hard time picking a contributor over a player," he said. "I don't think a person from one city getting up and giving a presentation against him is enough to have kept him out. It's more complicated than that."
The selection process in football is more arcane than the straight vote conducted for the
Given the privacy of the meeting, it's hard to get a grip on why certain candidates rise and fall.
Several other voters said they're unsure if Modell's death will help his cause.
Several league officials, however, urged voters to look past such emotion and consider the breadth of Modell's contributions.
Joe Browne, the longest-tenured employee in the NFL's league office, remembered Modell as an influential member of late former commissioner
Supporters also include former commissioner Paul Tagliabue and current team owners.