As former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell is bypassed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet again, we ponder a historical what if.
As Cleveland Browns fans and Cleveland sports media alike unabashedly celebrate the news of what was likely Art Modell’s best chance for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame falling by the wayside, I can’t help but imagine a historical what if.
What if Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark hadn’t bungled things and had parlayed the motherlode of draft picks the NFL awarded the expansion Browns into the kind of early success enjoyed by their most recent expansion predecessors the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers?
After joining the league in 1995, the Jaguars not only made the playoffs in their second season and returned for three subsequent seasons, but they also reached the AFC Championship game in years two and five. As for the Panthers, not only did they also reach the playoffs in just their second season by going 12-4, but they’ve also appeared in two Super Bowls.
Our beloved Browns, not so much. All we have to show for our expansion team is one measly Tommy Maddux-ruined playoff appearance in 2002, a revolving door of management, coaches and even players, all while ownership continually tried to capture lightning in a bottle.
What if the Browns trajectory had followed that of the Jags and Panthers? What if our own expansion team had made even just two AFC Championship games, let alone a Super Bowl or two? Would everyone’s resentment and bitterness towards Art Modell be as intense as it is today upon hearing news of him not being elected to the Hall of Fame, I think not.
It’s always easy to rewrite history, but I venture to think that instead of having the tremendous animus towards Modell that we do, we’d be celebrating him, congratulating him posthumously and thanking him for moving the team and putting the expansion franchise in the capable hands of ownership who achieved far greater success.
So instead of expending precious energy dancing on Art Modell’s grave, perhaps we should get back to our regularly scheduled activity of trashing expansion Cleveland Browns owners Al Lerner, Randy Lerner and Jimmy & Dee Haslam?
Nah, I’m glad the Hall of Fame left the ghost of Art Modell on the doorstep yet again!