The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

March 16, 2006

Ron Borges

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 1:21 am

Ron Borges is a well-known boxing writer, and he has covered the NFL for nearly three decades.  He is a relatively recent addition to the Hall of Fame voting committee, and his track record on Monk is decidedly mixed.

In 2002, before he got on the committee, he wrote: “My ballot (if I had one after 27 years covering the NFL) would read: Parcells, Guy, Monk, Allen, and Kelly, with a sentimental vote for John Stallworth.”  However, before the voting this year, he wrote: “Monk played 16 years in the NFL yet led his team in receiving only six times and was named to the Pro Bowl only three times. He was one of the premier possession receivers of his day, but how dangerous was he considered by opponents? According to some coaches who faced him, not very.”

He seems sympathetic to Monk, and my guess is that he would vote yes if Monk made it to the final 6.  However, I am not sure he is voting for Monk when they are cutting down the finalists, and he is certainly voting for Michael Irvin over Art Monk.

Boston Globe
January 6, 1991
Redskins put clamps on Ryan, Eagles
Ron Borges

That made it 6-0, Philadelphia, but it was subtraction by addition because those scores had made clear to the Redskins what they were capable of.

After those stands, the ‘Skins apparently thought they were the Russian front repelling Napoleon because the Eagles would not again get closer than the Redskin 26.

“People took turns making mistakes, and as the game went on, it was hard to mount something,” Eagles offensive coordinator Rich Kotite said.

Yet the Eagles still seemed in control of their fate even after Washington took the lead on a 16-yard Mark Rypien-to-Art Monk touchdown pass with 5:54 left in the half.

That was the third of three straight Rypien completions (for 28, 23 and 16 yards), but all that was erased when Earnest Byner was blasted to the ground by Smith with less than two minutes to play in the half.

As Byner tumbled earthward, the ball popped loose, Smith scooped it up and weaved his way 87 yards for a touchdown that would have made it 13-7 and reversed a half of broken promises for the Eagles.

But then the officials turned to the replay booth and George Sladky saw things differently.

“We had a good end zone shot that clearly showed he was contacted and came down with control and the ground caused the fumble,” Sladky said.

Boston Globe
January 12, 1991
49ers are facing stronger Redskins
Ron Borges

There is no question Washington has vastly improved its running game with Byner, who finished the year rushing for more than 100 yards four straight times. He has carried most of the offensive load the second half of the season, allowing Washington to control the ball late in the year as its defense stiffened.

In addition, the return of quarterback Mark Rypien has stabilized a passing game that features a three-live crew of wide receivers Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders that left the ‘Skins’ offense sixth in passing, fifth in rushing and fourth overall.

Boston Globe
January 27, 1992
Redskins trio has caught on
Ron Borges

The Posse got its man yesterday.

The Washington Redskins’ trio of wide receivers – the legendary Art Monk, the elusive Gary Clark and the mercurial Ricky Sanders – has over the years become known as The Posse and with good reason. Together they have become a dangerous group of marauders, a threesome that has corraled many an opposing secondary.

Super Bowl XXVI was no different. The three combined to catch 15 of the 18 passes Most Valuable Player Mark Rypien completed in the 37-24 trouncing of the Bills.

Perhaps fittingly, the effort was more balanced than most as both Clark and Monk caught seven, with Clark turning them into 114 yards while Monk had 113. Sanders, meanwhile, had only one reception but it was the longest of the day, a 41-yarder that set up Washington’s first score, a 34-yard field goal by Chip Lohmiller early in the second quarter.

“They completed some great passes,” said Buffalo linebacker Darryl Talley. “The one that Ricky caught was an outstanding pitch and catch. Bills’ safety Mark Kelso was all over him nice and tight, but things happen.”

They do when The Posse is riding high as it was yesterday, although after Sanders’ catch it took a break and running back Earnest Byner, who would make the only catches of the day not produced by The Posse, chipped in with a 10-yard touchdown catch that lifted the score to 10-0, but soon The Posse was riding high once again when Clark pulled down a 34-yard reception over the middle that moved the ball to the Bills’ 15 to set up a third second quarter score and an eventual 17-0 halftime lead.

“They blitzed a lot more than we thought they would,” Gibbs explained. “Because of that, we threw a little more than we thought we would. So offensively we threw quite a bit in the first half, which I wasn’t expecting to do.”

Gibbs may not have been expecting to throw, but he has grown to expect the members of The Posse to catch, which they did yesterday. Yet the elder statesman of the Redskins’ trio declined to acknowledge their efforts.

“I don’t think you can identify one person,” Monk said. “We all played great together. To accomplish our goal to win a Super Bowl is just fantastic. To me, this is the third one and it’s probably the best one for me because not only did we win but I was able to play in it and have a pretty active role in it.

“This is not a team of individuals. We all look for the team effort. We are committed to one another. We don’t run our mouths.”

“On some occasions I think they were able to get open on us,” conceded Bills’ cornerback Nate Odoms, not long after Clark had succeeded in getting open for receptions of 6, 10, and 14 as well as his final 30-yard catch on that series.

That effectively ended the Redskins’ passing attack for the day as Gibbs went into a conservative shell designed to protect the lead Rypien and The Posse had built. He succeeded.

And so did The Posse.

Boston Globe
January 9, 1993
‘Skins eye ground control
Ron Borges

With quarterback Mark Rypien in a year-long slump (13 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions after a 28-11 ratio in 1991) that some have attributed to tiredness from carrying around his bulging new contract, Washington has become a team that wins when it runs, despite the presence of explosive receivers Art Monk, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark.

Boston Globe
January 20, 2002
Pro Football Notes
Ron Borges

Speaking of this year’s Hall class, since the league’s cloistered voting system prevents most people who have been around pro football from voting, here are my selections from the 15 finalists. Parcells, Ray Guy, and Art Monk are unassailable. Guy is the greatest punter of all time. I once saw him kick a ball off the TV screens at the Superdome in New Orleans in practice just to prove he could do it. Monk’s numbers speak for themselves, and so do Parcells’s. Of the other finalists, how do you deny Jim Kelly, who took four teams to the Super Bowl? George Allen will probably get in because old coaches always do. I think Dave Casper, Lester Hayes, and L.C. Greenwood also deserve inclusion, but they won’t all get in this time. My ballot (if I had one after 27 years covering the NFL) would read: Parcells, Guy, Monk, Allen, and Kelly, with a sentimental vote for John Stallworth.

Oakland Tribune
July 20, 2005
Brown not an easy pass into Hall
Bill Soliday

In a poll of a dozen members of the selection committee, the consensus is that [Tim] Brown will be voted in but not necessarily on the first try in 2010.

“I’d be very surprised if he was a first-ballot guy,” said the Boston Globe’s Ron Borges, who once covered the Raiders for the Oakland Tribune.

“They’re pretty stingy about that. And if Art Monk isn’t a slam dunk, I would certainly say Tim Brown isn’t.”

Boston Globe
January 15, 2006
Here’s One Call on the Hall
Ron Borges

Monk is an interesting case, because when he retired, he was the all-time leading receiver with 940 catches. His 12,721 receiving yards are third all-time. He would seem to be a sure thing, but upon further examination, questions arise. Monk played 16 years in the NFL yet led his team in receiving only six times and was named to the Pro Bowl only three times. He was one of the premier possession receivers of his day, but how dangerous was he considered by opponents? According to some coaches who faced him, not very.

Monk once had 91 catches in a season in which he scored only two touchdowns. Joe Gibbs argues that it was because of John Riggins. Perhaps, but Monk is not even in his own team’s Hall of Fame more than a decade after his retirement.

Compare his production with Irvin, who played only 12 years yet had nearly as many yards (11,904) and touchdowns (65 to Monk’s 68). Irvin also was a big-time postseason performer and a guy who averaged nearly 200 more yards a season than Monk. Both were debated and rejected last year, a fate Monk has suffered several times.

What will happen this time is unknown, but the debate surely will be lively, such as when the huge numbers of Moon are brought up – numbers he had both in the NFL and the Canadian Football League. But what did he win after leaving Canada? How much should that factor in to a quarterback’s place in the pantheon of the game’s greatest?


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