Clayton: Modell was mostly a model owner

One of the most-asked questions a Hall of Fame voter gets is about Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, who died Thursday at age 87.

As an owner, Modell did almost everything to merit induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His strong presence at the bargaining table allowed the NFL to grow into the nation's top sport. In Cleveland, he ran a model franchise.

One episode has prevented his selection to the Hall of Fame, however. After failing to get the city to help him build a new stadium, Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. Although the move buoyed Baltimore fans, many of them still bitter about losing their Colts to Indianapolis, it betrayed the equally loyal fans in Cleveland.

A majority of people in the HOF room -- including me -- never felt comfortable enough to vote him in. Canton is too close to Cleveland. It just didn't feel right.

Nevertheless, the Modell name is as influential as the Rooneys, Maras and other who helped to make this league so strong. Despite years of recent futility, the Browns' brand is still one of the best in this league. Browns fans are still some of the best in the sport. Modell served them well during his years in Cleveland.

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