Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome thinks it would be a travesty if former team owner and NFL trend-setter Art Modell is elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame posthumously.
Modell, 85, suffered a mild stroke and a mild heart attack nine years ago, but still makes appearances at Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., mostly during the season.
"I don't know what we can do," Newsome said Wednesday night in a conference call with season-ticket holders. "My biggest fear is that once he passes away, at that point he will get the opportunity to go in and I just don't think that's fair.
Newsome, one of the most respected personnel evaluators in the NFL, entered the Hall of Fame in 1999 for his exploits as a Cleveland Browns tight end.
"He definitely deserves to be in, and he deserved to go in before I did," Newsome said.
It was Modell who hired Newsome after his playing career was over as a coach and scout, eventually promoting him to his current position.
Modell, who still retains a one-percent stake in the Ravens, moved the former Browns to Baltimore in 1996, and there have been several reports that he continues to be the source of criticism from well-known Cleveland Plain-Dealer Browns reporter Tony Grossi in Hall of Fame voting sessions.
Modell has not been a finalist for the Hall in 10 years.
"I know Tony, I know him personally," Newsome said. "He's just trying to carry the banner for something that happened 15 years ago and I say this to Tony all the time, 'Get over it. The man deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.'"
Modell's career highlights include being the Chairman of the Owners Labor Committee in 1968 when the NFL negotiated the first players' collective bargaining agreement, serving on the NFL-AFL Merger Committee and helping negotiate with ABC to launch Monday Night Football.