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Clark Judge: Art Modell Won't Re-Enter Pro Football HOF Discussion In Foreseeable Future

August 9, 2019
Talk of Fame Network host and Pro Football Hall of Fame voter Clark Judge says former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell will not join the illustrious group of legends anytime soon.

Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns for 35 years, moved the team and rebranded it as the Ravens in 1996, established a football team in a city absent of one since the Baltimore Colts infamously left town in 1984.

Modell's Browns won the 1964 NFL championship and his marketing background became apparent in many of his promotional tactics. He also served as league president (1967-1969) and chaired the NFL's television committee for more than three decades, helping negotiate many of the league's television contracts. 

But in addition to moving the Browns, Modell was involved in controversies regarding the firing of Paul Brown, whom the team was named after, and numerous contract disputes with players. 

"The answer, based on what I know for the immediate future, is no. I don't see any foreseeable future where he's coming back in [the discussion]," Judge said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 6. "That doesn't mean he's not going to be in the Hall of Fame at some point, but the [voters are] sharply divided. It's very passionate at both sides."

Judge also serves on the nine-member contributor subcommittee that votes to induct individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching. He says that while he feels strongly about recognizing those deserving of the honor, there are simply too candidates from the last 100 years for the committee to vote in everyone who's deserving.

One of those forgotten football legends is Clark Shaughnessy, a former head football coach at the University of Maryland in 1942 and 1946. Shaughnessy enjoyed a long career in the sports at both the collegiate and professional levels using his innovative offensive strategies.

"When I joined the Hall of Fame board of selectors, I was flabbergasted that Clark Shaughnessy wasn't in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I think he's been a three-time finalist," Judge said. "Here's a guy who brought the T-formation to the modern era. Here's a guy who revolutionized some defenses, bringing in blitzes, so he worked on both sides of the ball. He's a guy who really changed the game of pro football, and yet he's not acknowledged in the Hall of Fame."

In honor of its 100th season, the NFL is expanding its 2020 Hall of Fame class to 20 members, 10 of whom will be "senior" members. The list of potential senior candidates includes former Baltimore Colts linebacker Mike Curtis. 

Curtis made four Pro Bowls and was named the 1970 AFC Defensive Player of the Year, but Judge says the senior committee has an abundance of historic players to deal with, causing Curtis to take a back seat to more recognizable names.

"I grew up a Colts fan, I know Mike Curtis very well. I watched him play, I know what he meant to that team, I know how good he was," Judge said. "I do know that the senior committee talks about it, so that means he's at least on a short list, but when you're talking about a logjam of modern-era players ... the logjam of seniors is far, far more considerable."

Judge did explain, however, that the induction of former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis changed the landscape of future potential Hall of Famers. Davis accumulated 53 touchdowns and more than 6,000 yards from scrimmage during the course of three consecutive first-team All-Pro seasons, but injuries derailed his career and he didn't do much else in the league.

Even with short-lived stardom, Davis was inducted into the Hall in 2017, a decision that Judge says opened a "Pandora's box" for players who enjoyed a great stretch of football but didn't have sustained excellence like many of the inductees previously, citing former linebacker Patrick Willis as a potential future beneficiary. 

Two players whom the committee did not have to spend too much time voting in were Ravens legends Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Judge said the discussion for these two lasted less than a few minutes combined and that he admired both throughout their careers.

"To me, [Reed] was the most attractive of all those candidates [this year]," he said. "I watched a lot of games against New England and I know what he did to [Tom] Brady, and he was the one guy Brady could not figure out."

To hear more from Judge, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox