Steve Doerschuk, on assignment in New Orleans, casts his vote for who should get into the Hall, takes a stab at how the actual election will go, and digs in his heels on Art Modell.
Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, because he bet on baseball. Art Modell isn’t in the Hall of Fame in Canton, because he bet on Baltimore.
We have plenty of thoughts on Modell’s latest candidacy for a bronze bust in Canton. They boil down to this: He never will deserve one.
Ripping the team out of Cleveland behind the backs of one of the more distinctive fan bases in U.S. sports history should be a permanent blackball. Period.
To elect Mr. Modell on the same weekend the Browns-turned-Ravens are in the Super Bowl would be an ironic, distasteful and bad joke on Ohio.
We do not believe he will be voted in, although his recent death could make him a sentimental choice among some voters who have straddled the fence when his name has come up in the past.
The time for bitterness has passed. God be with you, Mr. Modell. Rest in peace. Just not in the Hall of Fame.
Aside from an emphatic assertion as to who shouldn’t get in, this article’s mission first presents our view of who should, then makes our best guess on who will.
Election day is Saturday, with as few as four and as many as seven of 17 finalists to be picked for induction.
Left tackle Jonathan Ogden
Ogden was the first draft pick made by Baltimore, a few months after the team closed up shop in Cleveland.
It wasn’t fair. He was bigger than everybody else, 6-foot-9, pushing 350 pounds. His talent and technique made him a monster.
The Ravens spent forever looking for a quarterback. In a way, they wasted this fabulous blind-side protector, although obviously not to the extent the Browns have squandered Joe Thomas.
Linebacker Dave Robinson
Ray Nitschke was the more famous linebacker from Vince Lombardi’s 1960s Packer powerhouse, but Robinson was as good and as important at what he did on the outside as Nitschke was in the middle. At least, that’s what some of the old players have told us over the years, although the classy Robinson never says it.
Wide receiver Cris Carter
He could move the chains (a then-record 122 catches in 1994). He could change the score (130 touchdown catches, 30 more than fellow finalist Tim Brown, 43 more than fellow finalist Andre Reed).
This isn’t the first time Carter, Brown and Reed have been in an election-day scrum of wideouts. It’s past time to break the logjam, with the former Ohio State guy, Carter, getting the nod for longevity, consistency and location of the end zone.
Defensive end Michael Strahan
Page 2 of 2 - A model Hall of Famer should combine perpetual excellence with longevity. Strahan did just that, and to put his career 141.5 sacks in perspective, note that the Browns’ all-time leader, Clay Matthews, notched 62.
Guard Will Shields
The ultimate iron man, he played in his first game as a rookie and then started the next 223 contests, all with the Chiefs. He went to 12 straight Pro Bowls during his 14-year career. In his case, making the Hall in his second year eligible is a plenty-long wait.
Owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.
Former 49ers bigwig Carmen Policy was supposed to bring a taste of San Francisco with him to Cleveland as the new Browns’ president in 1999. It was a nice thought. Policy’s boss in San Francisco — DeBartolo — became the first NFL owner with five Super Bowl wins.
PREDICTIONS ON ACTUAL CLASS
From our ballot, Ogden, Strahan and Robinson. Otherwise ...
Guard-tackle Larry Allen
A Cowboy for most of his career, Allen made the NFL’s all-decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s.
Insofar as all-decade teams are chosen by the board of electors that picks Hall of Famers, it’s a given he is coming to Canton some year soon — in August, we’ll say.
Defensive tackle Warren Sapp
Like Allen, Sapp made two all-decade teams, is in his first year of eligibility, and is a lock for induction soon.
He was short on class, at times, such as after a 2001 game against the Browns, when he sniffed that defensive end Courtney Brown was “soft.” Brown had a disappointing career, but he gave what he had and was a man of character. Sapp is a man of too many words.
Defensive tackle Curley Culp
Seniors Committee candidates who make it as far to election day in that year’s Super Bowl City usually get in. Culp was an ultimate smash-mouth type who punished opponents during long runs with the Chiefs and Eagles.
Reading the minds of nearly 50 voters is risky business, obviously, so, it’s a good bet someone from the list of finalists not named above might well get in:
Coach Bill Parcells, Running back Jerome Bettis, linebacker-defensive end Kevin Greene, linebacker-defensive end Charles Haley, cornerback Aeneas Williams.