Monk ‘Humbled’ By Hall Inclusion
The Washington Post
February 3, 2008
After many years waiting for a phone call that never came, Art Monk focused on work to distract himself each time another group was elected to the Hall of Fame. But Monk, a longtime standout wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, had to change his routine yesterday when he was among six former players, including Redskins teammate Darrell Green, voted into this season’s class.
Monk received a standing ovation as he entered a Dupont Circle hotel to attend a news conference that former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann arranged to honor his friend. Strangers congratulated Monk as he maneuvered through the crowded lobby, thanking him for his consistency in a 16-year career that included 14 seasons and four Super Bowls (three victories) with the Redskins.
Monk was unable to finish the project he started yesterday, but he didn’t seem to mind.”I never really expected this to happen even though there was the anticipation of it happening the past several years,” Monk said as he addressed family, friends and reporters. “I just sort of let it get by me without trying to notice it, but I’m extremely excited about the induction. I’m also extremely humbled at the same time.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined myself, as a little boy, getting to this point. Whether I actually deserve to be here or not is for [others] to determine. This is always something that was very [unattainable] for me growing up, playing in the NFL and obviously being considered a Hall of Famer. It’s a great honor.”
Two weeks ago, at a dinner hosted by the Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams hugged Monk and said: “This is it. You are getting in this time.”
An eight-time finalist, Monk, 50, had not given up hope of being elected. For his peace of mind, however, Monk needed to distract himself yesterday. He said he didn’t watch the selection show.
“I was home just doing some work,” he said. “Typically at this time of the year, I just put my mind someplace else. I watch TV, I go out and do something, just trying to keep myself busy. I just tried to keep my mind off of it.”
Monk should have been elected long ago, Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs said, because of his importance to Gibbs’s success in his first stint with the organization.
“One of the things on Art’s behalf is that he sacrificed for the team,” Gibbs, who resigned as team president and coach Jan. 8, said from North Carolina during a telephone interview. “As most people know, we used three wide receivers, but Art was the inside portion of the three wide receivers. We used him in there blocking a lot. And a lot of the passes he caught were across the middle, they were shorter passes, and he actually sacrificed so much for the team.
“If we had played him outside, his average per catch and everything would have gone up. The fact that he was so important to us, and he was a big receiver, we used him in a blocking role in there. He was unselfish, he sacrificed for the team, and obviously he did a lot for us. Obviously, all three of those guys [Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders] were fantastic for us, they all played huge roles. But I’m just thrilled that Art, after this long wait, finally got in. With his numbers and everything that he had, and particularly what he did for us . . . he was deserving.”
Monk was the first player with more than 900 career receptions, finishing his career as the NFL’s all-time leader with 940. Jerry Rice broke Monk’s reception mark during the 1995 season.
Monk, Washington’s first-round selection in the 1980 draft, also had 12,721 career receiving yards and 68 touchdown catches. He was a three-time all-pro selection (1984, ’85, ’86) and was voted to the 1980s all-decade team.
“And the numbers might have been a lot different if we were a passing team,” said Mann, Monk’s business partner in Alliant Merchant Services, an electronic payment services company. “We were also a running team. We had the threat to go deep, but Joe always had the threat to go deep so that we could run the ball. You can’t be a physical team if you’re only throwing the ball down the field.
Gibbs “always had the threat of throwing so he could always run you into submission. That was the offense that we ran. Art was subjected to that. But you know what? Art was Mr. Third Down. If you needed a third down and six or seven yards, he was the guy. He didn’t get the long bombs all the time. He got the for-sure catch to keep a drive alive.”
For Monk, being elected to the Hall of Fame with Green “just makes it even more special to know that Darrell’s in there with me. We had a lot of special times out there on the field. Even more importantly to myself and to him, was our relationship off the field.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together working within this community serving the underserved. We fellowship together at the same church. Our families are very close. Our children call each other aunts and uncles. It’s just really special to know not only that we’re in, but we’re going in together.”
Green, Monk, Thomas elected to Hall of Fame
The Washington Times
February 3, 2008
PHOENIX — Darrell Green said it best after he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday in his first year of eligibility, along with longtime Washington Redskins teammate Art Monk and former Redskins assistant coach Emmitt Thomas.
“It’s a Redskin day, baby,” Green exulted here after the selections were announced. “Everyone said, ‘You’re a shoo-in,’ but I never embraced that. And that’s how I think I was able to play at a high level for so long.
“Before they ever paid me $120,000 my rookie year, I was already overpaid. My whole career I was overpaid, overrespected and overcared for.”
Green, 48, set franchise records with 20 seasons and 54 interceptions when he was selected for seven Pro Bowls, the last one when he was 37 years old.
He had his signature moments when he ran down Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett from behind in his 1983 debut on “Monday Night Football” and when he returned a punt for a touchdown with pulled rib muscles to upset the Bears in frigid Chicago in a 1987 playoff game.
Monk, 50, played the first 14 of his 16 seasons in Washington.
Although Charlie Brown, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders at times made more plays downfield, Monk once held the NFL records for career catches, catches in a season and consecutive games with a catch.
In the 1984 finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monk set a season record by catching 11 passes, including a 20-yarder on a fourth-and-18 that helped give the Redskins a 29-27 playoff-clinching victory.
“We asked Art to block and run inside routes that took away some of his average per catch,” said former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who praised the character of Green and Monk. “Art was always unselfish, whatever it took to be a great teammate.”
Monk was Washington’s first pick in the 1980 draft, as Green was three years later for the defending champion Redskins.
They were teammates in three more Super Bowls. Thomas, who coached both men, joined them for the latter two title games, both Redskins victories. He was elected as a Seniors Committee candidate.
“I’m so excited we’re going in together,” Green said. “This is just so special. I want to say how much I appreciate the Washington Redskins and [then-General Manager] Bobby Beathard. People said how crazy it was to draft a guy who’s almost not as tall as the podium from Texas A&I.
“I walked on to the junior varsity in 11th grade. I walked on at Texas A&I,” he said. “I started one game that year and went home for a year and a half because of homesickness. I went back and, three years later, I was drafted.
“We went to the Super Bowl my first year,” Green said. “I didn’t do free agency. I was healthy enough to stay there, and the city embraced me. I was played in one city, raised my kids there and served my community for 20 years. I’m a very blessed human.”
Monk, who attends the same church as Green, felt the same way, despite having been denied as a finalist the previous seven years.
Monk credited previous Redskins Hall of Fame receivers Charley Taylor, his position coach for much of his career, and Bobby Mitchell, then the team’s assistant general manager, for helping him reach this point.
“I’m a little short on words right now,” Monk said by telephone. “I wasn’t really expecting this. I’ve always taken the attitude that if it happens, it happens. It would have been nice to get in first year, second, third year. But it’s a great honor. I’m excited about going into the Hall with [Darrell] and, of course, Emmitt.”
Thomas said he didn’t change Green’s fearless style when he became his position coach in 1987.
“Emmitt and [defensive coordinator Richie] Petitbon with Coach Gibbs’ blessing, they created a defense around me being the matchup guy,” Green said of always covering the top opposing receiver.
In one fell swoop, the Redskins of Gibbs’ first era leapt from having just one Hall of Fame player — running back John Riggins, who retired after the 1985 season before the third and fourth Super Bowls — to three, plus Gibbs. Taylor and Thomas were both elected as players.
“That era, I took such great pride in being a part of that,” the recently re-retired Gibbs said in a conference call yesterday. “You hope we’ll go ahead and have others who will be honored.”
Guard Russ Grimm, who played for the Redskins from 1981 to 1991, was a finalist for the fourth straight year. Grimm was eliminated in the initial reduction from 15 to 10 modern-era candidates.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who had criticized the selectors in previous years, was beaming at the announcement yesterday.
“I’ve been upset every year that Art didn’t get recognition,” Snyder said. “I’m thrilled that we’re finally at the point where the recognition is there. All of those disappointments go away pretty quickly with this announcement. It’s spectacular.”