The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

February 1, 2008

Uncertainty surrounds 2008 Hall of Fame selections

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 2:45 am

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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/peter_king/01/31/halloffame/
Hall of a debate: Uncertainty surrounds 2008 Hall of Fame selections
SI.com
January 31, 2008
Peter King

PHOENIX — Trying to predict the Pro Football Hall of Fame class is always difficult, but I don’t recall a more difficult year in my decade and a half as one of the selectors. The reason: there are no gimmes in this group and there are varying degrees of support for many of the 17 candidates.

Voting for the Hall is Saturday in downtown Phoenix. The 17 candidates consist of 15 modern era and two Seniors Committee nominees. The announcement of the new class — a minimum of four and maximum of seven — should come late Saturday afternoon.

Last year I did a tote board with odds on who I liked and why. I’m not going to be that stupid this year because one of last year’s fair-headed men, Paul Tagliabue, didn’t come close to being elected. Here’s how I forecast his group.

Newcomers Darrell Green and Cris Carter — particularly Green, the two-decade Redskins standout — enter the room with the best chances of getting through. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The leaders, from my sense of it, are wide receiver Art Monk, tackle Gary Zimmerman, linebacker Andre Tippett, defensive ends Richard Dent and Fred Dean, guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg, and Seniors nominee Emmitt Thomas, a veteran cornerback and longtime assistant coach.

The reason I can’t give you a much better clue is that I think sentiments of the voters are all over the place, judging from my informal talks with them this week. So it’d be dangerous to say any single guy is a favorite, other than Green, most likely.

Talking with Pro Football Hall of Fame vice president Joe Horrigan today I found I had a lot in common with someone who knows the Hall better than anyone. “I’m befuddled,” Horrigan said. “There’s great equality in this class, and it’s really hard to tell which candidates will get in first.”

It’s clear that a guy like Carter, with 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns, is Hall of Fame-caliber, but I just don’t know if the zeal of some voters to get Monk in the Hall after a decade of frustration is going to cause Carter to wait a year or two.

I’ll have more to say about this in a file on Saturday afternoon and again on Monday, in my regular column. But stay tuned, there’s going to be quite a lot of intrigue.

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4 Comments »

  1. “I just don’t know if the zeal of some voters to get Monk in the Hall after a decade of frustration is going to cause Carter to wait a year or two.”

    This is exactly what should happen. The next big-time WR candidates come into the picture in 2010 (Jerry Rice and Tim Brown), allowing the voters to put in Monk this year and Carter next year without much problem. While there is traditionally less emphasis in the pro football Hall of Fame voting on whether a guy gets in on his first ballot, it does bear thought. Putting a player in on the first ballot says that he is the full package: a game-changing player with great individual accomplishment, of eye-popping athleticism, and one who contributed to championships.
    While Carter fits some of this bill, he does not fall into every category here. His individual accomplishments on the field certainly stand up with just about anybody’s. But Carter did not personally change the way the game of football, or his position, was played. His career was more a symptom of the change in the game than the cause of it. Also, while Carter did make some wonderful catches, his overall athleticism was not off the charts. Lastly, there is the matter of post season team success. This would be a less valid measure to judge Carter by if he had contributed at a high level in the playoffs, but his team just wasn’t good enough. This is not what happened. Carter’s playoff numbers are pedestrian at best and his teams suffered for it. He put up 100+ yds in a playoff game only twice. Meanwhile, his teams never won a playoff game against an opponent with more than 10 regular season wins. Carter averaged only 58 yards in catches in those wins, none of which came beyond the divisional round of the playoffs. Carter participated in 4 home field losses in the playoffs, averaging just 55 yards and scoring just once in those games.
    Monk’s playoff numbers outstrip those of Carter at the same time as he was helping his team win playoff games against tougher competition (like Montana’s 49ers and Ditka’s defending champ Chicago Bears).
    The guy who really fills the bill for a first ballot inductee is Darrell Green. Green showed the league that speed was the answer for CBs in reaction to the change in the passing game rules. That speed provided constant eye-popping plays, resulting in wins for his team. Green’s personal accomplishments came in concert with success for his team. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs, helping lead his team to 3 Super Bowls, winning 2. In 1992, the Detroit Lions scored all 10 of their points in the NFC Championship game while Green was sidelined with an injury. When he returned to play, he intercepted a pass and ran it in for a TD. So while he was on the field, he outscored the Lions 6-0.

    You will find the reasons for Monk’s long overdue induction all over this site. It’s time for this record-setting champion to take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

    Comment by remember the redskins — February 1, 2008 @ 7:12 am

  2. Arthur Monk is SO long overdue you all should be ashamed!
    JUST PUT HIM IN THE D#$@ HALL!
    Largent? Swann? Irvin? Where does Arthur not fit in?

    Comment by Lindsay R — February 1, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

  3. Reasons to vote for Art Monk for the Hall of Fame

    1. Monk changed the course of Super Bowl history three times.
    • In 1988 with the Skins down 10-0 to the Broncos, the Redskins deep in their own territory, on 3rd and 16, Monk made a 40-yard catch, his first catch in 2 months because of an injury.
    • In 1990, Monk called a legendary players only team meeting with the Skins at 6-5. After the meeting, they went 22-4 and won the Super Bowl the following year against Buffalo and the team meetings became a tradition.
    • In the 1992 Super Bowl, Monk had 7 catches for 113 yards in the win over Buffalo.
    2. Monk has more catches than any of the 17 receivers currently in the Hall.
    3. Monk has more catches than Lynn Swann and John Stallworth combined. The last 10 years of Stallworth’s career were played after the rules were changed to open up the passing game.
    4. Monk has more catches, yards, and TDs than Michael Irvin, and Irvin played his whole career with a Hall of Fame QB, while Monk played with 4 QBs, 3 of them not in the NFL’s all-time top 85 QBs in passing yards.
    5. The 1991 Redskins were one of the greatest teams of all-time – 17-2 – and they are one of only two Super Bowl champions to play 11 teams with 10 or more wins. They had a margin of victory of 17 points per game, second to the ‘85 Bears and ‘07 Pats, yet not one player is in the Hall.
    6. If the 1980 draft were redone, Monk would be the #1 overall pick.
    7. In 1991, then-Cleveland Browns coach Bill Belichick, who ran the Giants defense in the late 80s, said, “I think Monk is one of the great receivers ever to play the game. I wish the damn guy would retire and I told him that in the preseason. The sooner the better for me.”

    Answering the Criticisms

    Yards Per Catch and Touchdowns

    Monk’s career average is 13.5 Yards per catch – just ahead of Marvin Harrison (13.4), nearly a yard more than Cris Carter (12.6) and only 1.3 yards less than Jerry Rice (14.8). Monk averaged 15.4 yards per catch in the playoffs, better than Carter or Andre Reed. Monk did have a lot of short receptions for first downs. That makes his 13.5 figure all the more impressive. For example, for every 8-yard reception he had, he also had a19-yard catch. For every 5-yard pass he had, he also had a 22-yard catch. Monk had at least 38 catches of 40 yards or more. There are different types of receivers just like there are different types of running backs. You wouldn’t keep Larry Csonka (4.3), or John Riggins (3.9) out of the Hall of Fame because they had lower averages than Barry Sanders (5.0) or Gale Sayers (5.0). Maintaining possession and making first downs is important because that leads to TDs. The alternative to maintain possession is punting. (Punting isn’t good – it gives the ball to the other team. We don’t want that).

    From 1980-1993, the years Monk was with the Redskins, he had exactly the same number of TDs as Lofton did during that span – 65. Overall, Monk had more TDs than Irvin – 68 to 65. The Redskins often ran the ball in the red zone and Monk blocked superbly on those runs.

    Signature Playoff Performances

    Yes, he did have them. Besides the catch vs. the Broncos in the Super Bowl and the 100-yard performance against the Bills in the Super Bowl mentioned above:

    • Monk scored a 40-yard touchdown and a 21-yard TD in a 51-7 rout of the Rams in a January 1984 playoff game.
    • In January 1987, the year after the Bears won the Super Bowl at 15-1 and were considered by most experts to be the greatest team of all-time – certainly the greatest defense – the Redskins beat the 14-2 Bears in the playoffs 27-13. Monk scored two touchdowns in that game – a 28-yarder and a 21-yarder against the top-ranked defense in the NFL.
    • In January 1991, the Redskins beat Buddy Ryan’s Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs 20-6, and Monk scored a 16-yard touchdown to give the Redskins a 7-6 lead.
    • In the next playoff game, Monk caught 10 passes for 163 yards and a 31-yard TD from quarterback Mark Rypien in a loss against the 49ers, who had beaten the Broncos 55-10 in the Super Bowl a year earlier.
    • The following season, Monk also scored an amazing over the shoulder 21-yard TD against Detroit in the 1992 NFC Championship game as the Skins were victorious, 41-10. Lions linebacker Chris Spielman had this to say: “Art Monk is a Hall of Famer. He doesn’t get enough credit compared to Jerry Rice. He’s a special player.”

    Monk played with other great WRs

    Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders were very good players, but they were not as great as Monk. Swann and Stallworth didn’t get penalized for playing alongside each other. Joiner had Wes Chandler, John Jefferson, and Kellen Winslow for parts of his career. Biletnikoff had Branch. Carter, who should make it someday but not before Monk, played four years with Randy Moss. Also note that Joiner, Swann, and Stallworth, Irvin, and Reed, another candidate, all played with HOF QBs.

    Pro Bowls

    Monk was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 80s. Monk made 3 Pro Bowls. He could have made a bunch more based on his stats. Pro Bowl voting is done before the final two weeks of the year and doesn’t include playoffs. Monk was a strong finisher and playoff performer. Joiner, Swann, and Bradshaw each only went to three Pro Bowls. Stallworth and Biletnikoff went to four Pro Bowls. Riggins went to one.

    Monk played against superior NFC competition – the NFC won 11 straight Super Bowls during Monk’s career – and he also played against tough NFC East competition. The Giants won two Super Bowls during Monk’s Redskins career, the Cowboys had a great defense in the early 80s and won Super Bowls in the 90s, and Buddy Ryan’s Eagles had a great defense in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Other current players are passing Monk

    See the chart that shows that while passing offense was higher in Monk’s era than Biletnikoff’s, it is also up a lot more now than it was during the time that Monk played. So Monk shouldn’t be penalized because today’s passing stats are more prolific than they were during his era. Note that Carter and Reed played most of their careers during the final 14 years of the Super Bowl era.

    NFL 1966-1979 1980-1993 (Monk’s era with the Redskins) 1994-2007
    Number of individual 4,000 passing seasons 2 19 46
    Number of individual 100 catch seasons 0 3 50
    Number of 1500 catch seasons 0 5 15

    Monk also outperformed Carter and Reed in the playoffs. I can’t format the tables on this site but you can see them on my website.

    Comment by Mike Frandsen — February 1, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

  4. By the way, my website is http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk/artmonk.htm.

    Second, I’d like to put some comments from Alan Levine here:

    All-time Receptions Leaders

    The one basic question that I find hardest for voters to answer is this. Ray Berry, Don Maynard, Charlie Taylor, Charlie Joiner, Steve Largent, Art Monk and Jerry Rice are the guys who have held the all-time receptions title over the past 40 years. All except Monk and Rice are in (and Rice is the all-time lock). The Hall voters have established this bar over several decades. So what Monk did to differentiate himself in a negative way?

    -Did he play against inferior teams? No, he likely played the toughest competition of any of these players as the NFC East was the toughest division in football and NFC was dominant over the AFC.
    -Was it a great QB that was really the key? No, all the guys in that group had HOF QBs except Monk and Largent.
    -Was it a case of a team that just threw and threw so his numbers got inflated? No. The Skins actually ran more than they threw in Monk’s career.
    -Did he forget to win? No. Monk has 3 rings, Rice 3, Berry 2 and Maynard 1. The others have none. During his prime, Monk’s team had a very high winning percentage.
    -Did he forget to block? Even the Hall voters that are on the fence about Monk write glowingly about his blocking and he was probably the best of the group, which is no small issue when you run the ball as much as the Redskins did.
    -Did he lack leadership? No. Joe Gibbs would tell young players to use Monk as a role model on how to prepare
    -Was he unprofessional or invite disrespect? No.
    -Are there too many Redskins already in the Hall from that era? Ummmm, No.
    -Was he too selfish? No, he was a ‘team first’ guy (ironically, that has brought him silly criticisms like why did he only led his team in receptions 6 times?).
    -Did he shrink in the playoffs? No, he had more yards per game in the postseason than almost any of the guys either in or being considered.
    -Did he fumble a lot? Actually, he seems to have fumbled less than almost all of these players.
    -Did he score enough TDs? More than Irvin, Swann, Stallworth and just 7 fewer than Lofton. On a team that had great success running it in.
    -Did he mess up or disappear in the clutch? No. His teammates nicknamed him ‘Money” for making important plays. He was outstanding at converting 3rd downs, again a perfect fit for his offense.

    “Possession Receiver”

    My most important point is really about the possession receiver. They were the keys to winning. What happened to Neil Lomax throwing deep to Roy Green? Against Reggie White, Randy White and Lawrence Taylor, Lomax got hit a lot. Retired at age 30 and got a hip replacement. Against those pass rushers, you NEEDED possession receivers. Long plays were just not going to win. I think it was 1985, the top 4 QBs in sack yards lost were all from the NFC East. The NFC East was likely the toughest division in NFL history over the 10 years or so of Monk’s prime.

    In Monk’s prime, from 1981 to 1991, here are the non-Redskin Super Bowl champs … along with their top receiver:

    1981 and 1984 49ers: Dwight Clark
    1983 Raiders: Todd Christensen
    1985 Bears: hard to say … the TE position had more yards than any WR
    1986 Giants: Mark Bavaro
    1990 Giants: hard to say… their RBs had more receiving yards than their WRs
    1988 and 1989 49ers: Jerry Rice

    Its the possession guys!! These teams averaged over 13 regular season wins. Yet Rice was the only great deep threat in the group and he was also a great possession receiver. Also worth a mention, the QBs on most of these teams weren’t guys with a ‘cannon’ arm.

    I looked at the top big play guys in those years. Excellent, exciting players with gaudy yards per catch numbers and significant numbers of catches. Alfred Jenkins, Stanley Morgan, Roy Green, Mike Quick, Drew Hill, Henry Ellard and Mark Clayton combined for 20 Pro Bowl appearances from 1981-1991. But postseason success? In these years, the 7 great players combined for a total of 15 postseason wins. Monk had 10 by himself. James Lofton may be the best example. Seven Pro Bowls and just 1 postseason win … until he was paired with a great possession oriented receiver in Andre Reed.

    Theory also supports that possession players are more important. The plays that don’t work are hugely important in who wins. And all of those things increase with slower developing plays (sacks, INTs, holding penalties, incompletions, etc).

    Again, thanks to Alan Levine for the above information.

    Comment by Mike Frandsen — February 1, 2008 @ 3:37 pm


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