The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

February 20, 2006

Pierson: Monk vs. Lofton Grabs You (1992)

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 10:54 am

This is a separate entry because Don Pierson wrote one of the best articles about Art Monk that I’ve found by a non-Washington sports writer.  It was the week before Super Bowl XVI, when everyone knew Art Monk was headed to the Hall of Fame:

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The Chicago Tribune
January 17, 1992
Monk vs. Lofton Grabs You
Don Pierson

Art Monk and James Lofton have caught everything except Steve Largent and the spotlight on football’s biggest stage. Now, on their way to the Hall of Fame, their careers intersect for a moment in Minneapolis in a Super Bowl that could be dedicated to the two old receivers.

This is the Redskins’ fourth Super Bowl since Monk was their No. 1 draft choice in 1980, but he has caught only two passes. In 1982, he missed the game after suffering a broken foot in the regular season finale. In 1983, Monk caught only one pass for 26 yards when the Redskins were blown out 38-9 by the Raiders. In 1987, Monk missed the first two playoff games with a knee injury and returned to the Super Bowl to catch Doug Williams’ first completion in Washington’s 42-10 rout of Denver.

“It’s the only thing I really haven’t done. It means a lot,” Monk said this week in a rare interview.

Art Monk. The name describes his profession and his personality. Because he prefers example to exhibition, others must speak about him.

“We had just watched him catch a pass and run over a defensive back (Monk, like Walter Payton, doesn’t like to run out of bounds). He came off the field and everybody was laughing, saying ‘He didn’t realize how heavy you were,’ ” defensive end Charles Mann said. “Art constantly tries to lose weight. He weights 210, not an ounce of fat, and he’s not happy.

“In the off-season last year, he never missed a weight workout. From March 1 until training camp, there are 55 workouts you can get. He had all 55. My wife has set up a Monk watch. We’ve been clipping out stories and sending them to his wife. Otherwise, he wouldn’t see it.”

Gary Clark, the most productive Redskin receiver, says: “We all want to be the best receiver on the team, but we know that Monk is the best.”

In the Redskins’ playoff loss to the 49ers last season, San Francisco nose tackle Michael Carter intercepted a pass late in the 28-10 game and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. There was no chance for anyone to catch him and no reason to try, except here came Art Monk out of the corner of everyone’s eye, racing from downfield at full speed, giving futile chase to a lost cause, not because he had a shot to catch him but because Art Monk is a professional.

“A pure competitor,” said Bobby Mitchell, Redskins’ assistant general manager and Hall of Fame receiver himself. “He doesn’t waste his energy talking about who’s the best, who’s getting the glory, who’s catching the most balls.”

The son of a construction worker and a second cousin of jazzman Thelonius Monk, Monk works at his craft with a “no-nonsense” attitude that rubs off, according to receivers coach Charley Taylor, another Hall of Famer in the Redskins’ fold.

“How Art Monk goes, we go. He can catch two balls in practice or three or 15. He works the same. Guys look at him and they don’t get upset when balls don’t come their way,” Taylor said.

Monk once told the Washington Post: “The great times are when you reach a point in a ballgame where I know they’re really looking at me to take control of a situation. Once you feel that, you just respond to it. It takes control of you. You get into a groove with the quarterback.”

Monk has a mirror at his locker, the only clue that he occasionally notices himself and fulfils the psychological profile of receivers studied by Dr. Arnold J. Mandell during his 1972 season with the San Diego Chargers.

“The wide receiver is a very special human being. He shares many features with actors and movie stars,” Mandell wrote. “He is narcissistic and vain and basically a loner.”

If Monk were a willing spokesman for his sport, he might be able to share additional insight beyond his aversion to Super Bowl hype.

“It’s everything that I don’t particularly care for. All the media and all the attention . . . a lot of confusion. I’d rather just be behind the scenes,” he said.

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