NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An oddity for this Super Bowl has both teams’ former owners as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns and then moved them to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and Ed DeBartolo Jr. of the San Francisco 49ers could enter the hall on Saturday. They are among 15 modern-day finalists, of which as many as five can be elected.
Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and took them to Baltimore in 1996. He was president of the NFL under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle from 1967-69 and played an instrumental role in negotiating television contracts for the league. Modell contributed to the creation of Monday night football, too.
“That is always one of those situations that you really try to stay out of, because you don’t know how they vote,” Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis said. “You can only tell them about the man who I knew myself: a true legend in his own way, a real visionary who changed thousands and thousands of lives. For the impact he’s had on this business and what he’s done for so many in this business, for me — I am a little biased — I would say, `Why wouldn’t he be in the Hall of Fame?”‘
DeBartolo purchased the 49ers in 1977. Soon, they were winning championships: five Super Bowls in as many tries.
During DeBartolo’s tenure, the team made 16 playoff appearances, won 13 division titles and played in 10 conference championship games.
But he also was suspended the 1999 season by the NFL after being found guilty of failing to report a bribe by a government official, a felony. He divested ownership of the 49ers to family members.
“I’m hoping Eddie gets into the hall because any time you can accomplish winning five Super Bowls and what he brought to the game of football, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said former 49ers great Jerry Rice, the most accomplished receiver in NFL history and a Canton enshrinee. “I think this society’s supposed to be about forgiveness and stuff like that. It’s time for Eddie DeBartolo to get into the hall.”
BATCH HONORED BY UNION: Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch was presented with a $100,000 donation for his charity on Thursday as the winner of the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award.
The annual honor recognizes exemplary community service.
Batch’s foundation helps children in the Pittsburgh area through sports and education.
Past recipients of the union’s award include Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Franco Harris and Gale Sayers.
REMEMBERING WALSH: Jim Harbaugh remembers it well, that initial phone message from late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh asking if he would leave San Diego and come coach at Stanford to turn around a spiraling program.
“He did call me and left a message on my phone to see if I’d be interested in the Stanford coaching job,” Harbaugh said. “I was intending to leave that message on my phone for the rest of my life, but I lost that phone or I dropped it in the toilet or something. I can’t remember which it was — lost it or dropped it in the can. I don’t have that message anymore, but it truly was one of the most memorable things.”
Now Harbaugh is following in Walsh’s steps coaching the San Francisco 49ers, and in the Super Bowl to boot.
ADRIAN’S AID: Adrian Peterson believes his quick recovery from major knee surgery is an inspiration not only to his teammates and other football players, but to all athletes. And, especially, to all kids.
Peterson always has prided himself on being in top shape, and credits his conditioning with enabling him to coming back less than nine months after the surgery, then nearly setting the NFL rushing record, gaining 2,097 yards in Minnesota’s wild-card playoff season.
He wants to make sure the youth of America are in tune with staying fit.
“Me being an athlete, I know how important it is to be active and keep your body in shape, and it is hard to get a kid outside to do that,” said Peterson, who was in New Orleans to promote Kinect for Xbox 360’s affiliation with NFL Play 60 to help kids have fun while achieving healthy, active lifestyles. The program also is designed to fight childhood obesity.
“Get off the couch and get active.”
That’s exactly what Peterson said he did during his rehab. He chose the Xbox golf game.
“I played the golf game and that got my body burning,” he said. “They have the more active games like the track and the NFL, but the golf, it’s different. It’s cool and I think kids will like it.”
Peterson also is eager to promote nutrition and a healthy diet. He had a sweet tooth as a child and said he was fortunate that he could simply go outdoors and play sports to work off the calories.
“Kids today definitely get a lot of fast foods in their body and that’s not good for you,” he said. “And now that I am older, I understand. I want young people to understand they need to eat healthy and be active. They don’t have to play football, but they need to do something.”
MUM’S THE WORD: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says linebacker Ray Lewis decided to retire after this season several weeks before sharing the news with his team and the rest of the world.
Lewis was working to return from a torn right triceps when coach John Harbaugh told the owner that Lewis wanted to talk to him.
“He just said, `I talked to John and I talked to (general manager) Ozzie Newsome and I’m done after this,”‘ Bisciotti recalled Thursday. “We spoke for a few minutes. I just said, `Mum’s the word until you decide to announce it or tell the team.’ That lasted, I think, a month.”
The formal announcement from Lewis came on Jan. 2. He has resolved to make the Super Bowl his final game.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)