Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated has led the fight against Art Monk for many years. His opinion of Monk has been consistent over two decades.
When Art set the record for catches in a season in 1984, Dr. Z wrote that "his single-season reception record (106) was built on a lot of eight-yard hitches." After Art's first bid at the Hall of Fame failed in 2000, Dr. Z wrote that "I know there are a lot of Monk fans out there who point to his overwhelming numbers. He was very valuable for what he did — sitting down in the zone and catching the 10-yard hook for a first down — but I feel that my top three did more."
He has continually argued with Art's fans over the years, but his opinion has never wavered. As he wrote in 2004, "Every time I mention that I didn't vote for him because I simply felt that other people were more deserving than a guy who caught 900 eight-yard hooks, I wake up all the Washington diehards, who start screaming about my anti-Redskins bias. Start stirring, you folk out there. It will happen again."
December 24, 1984
The Doc's Dangerous Double Dozen
The wide receivers were also difficult choices this year. Rather, one spot was difficult. The Steelers' John Stallworth was in a class by himself. Injury-free at last, he had the finest season in his 11-year career — and that's without a Terry Bradshaw to get the ball to him. The other spot came down to a three-player shoot-out among St. Louis's Roy Green, Washington's Art Monk and Miami's Mark Clayton. I gave Green the nod over Clayton because Green didn't have another deep threat, as Clayton did in teammate Mark Duper, to take the pressure off. Monk was indispensable to the Skins' offense, but his single-season reception record (106) was built on a lot of eight-yard hitches, while Green was more of a threat downfield.
January 20, 1992
Call Me Crazy, But. . . .; Dr. Z sticks to his preseason prediction and picks the Bills to beat the Redskins
IF YOU WATCHED SUNDAY'S AFC and NFC championship games, there's no logical way you could like the Buffalo Bills over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI. But I do. Maybe it's just stubborn loyalty to my preseason Super Bowl pick: Bills 20, Redskins 17. It could be just a hunch or the memory of last year's NFL title game, in which the New York Giants came in by the back door and the Bills rode in on a chariot after having blown through the playoffs.
One of the proven theories of Super Bowl handicapping is, Go with the hot team. But last season, after Buffalo had crushed the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 and the Giants had stolen a 15-13 win from the San Francisco 49ers in the conference championship games, the form chart got dinged and New York took it all in the Big One. Now the situation is reversed. The Skins are pushing all the right buttons, and the Bills are in on a pass.
Washington's 41-10 victory over the Detroit Lions in the NFC final was a cerebral as well as a physical triumph, the kind of game after which the winning coaches get together and say to one another, "See, I told you it would work." The Redskins defense — mixing things up just enough by throwing an odd assortment of blitzes at young Lion quarterback Erik Kramer and getting away from tendencies — suffered a slight lapse in the second quarter when All-Pro cornerback Darrell Green was sidelined with bruised ribs. But then it pitched a shutout after the intermission.
The Washington offense was typical Joe Gibbs: Set 'em up with one thing, hit 'em with another. He'll use the thunder of the heavy running game behind two or three tight ends, then the deep strike from quarterback Mark Rypien — 45 yards to Gary Clark, 31 to Art Monk, a 21-yard TD to Monk, 45 yards to Terry Orr. That last one left the fans smiling.
September 7, 1992
War Stories;Lance Alworth and Willie Brown, rivals from the bump-and-run era, recall their classic battles and reflect on today's less-physical game
"There's still a place for the big receiver," Alworth said. "I like watching Art Monk, the way he fights for the ball. You don't see a lot of guys doing that. And Jerry Rice is in a class by himself."
"Rice reminds me of you," Brown said. "So quick getting off the line, real fluid downfield, and then that extra gear, that overdrive and the leaping ability. Zoom, zoom, and it's over. That's what fooled people about Rice, coming into the pros. They didn't understand his speed. They went by the stopwatch, but he had competitive speed, football speed."
"One thing receivers like Rice and Monk have now is a system that allows them to break patterns," Alworth said. "They have their own optional reads. We had to run disciplined patterns. We couldn't break them. I knew what the defense was doing on my side, but I didn't pay attention to the whole design.
Dallas Morning News
December 12, 1999
Irvin on right track for Hall of Fame
"Numbers can be cheap," said Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, "because they don't tell you whether it was a quality catch or an eight-yard hitch. Guys in the league right now are setting new standards for receivers."
A receiver such as Art Monk, who caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards, put up Hall of Fame numbers, but there's no guarantee he'll ever get inducted.
July 24, 2000
Irvin is tied for 10th alltime in receptions. Let's look at the rest of the top 10, a list that makes up most of his competition for the Hall. Jerry Rice, the alltime leader, is a shoo-in. If Andre Reed, No. 2, doesn't catch on with a team this year, he'll be eligible at the same time as Irvin, and I'd vote for both of them; as a slot receiver, Reed was the key man in the multiple wideout offense that led the Bills to four Super Bowls. Art Monk, No. 3, has come up and been rejected; I would choose Irvin over Monk–just not enough action downfield for Art. Cris Carter, No. 4 and still active, will be another easy choice. Steve Largent, at 5, is in the Hall. Henry Ellard, sixth alltime, will be eligible in four years, but I see him as a case of being not quite as good as the candidates he'll be up against each year. Irving Fryar (7) and Tim Brown (8) are still active. James Lofton, ninth alltime, has come up and has been rejected, despite my yes vote–he was a more serious deep threat than any of the others in the top 10. If he's still on the ballot in five years, at the same time as Irvin, I'd probably go for both of them.
Finally, Charlie Joiner, who's tied with Irvin at No. 10 with 750 catches, is already in the Hall, and it's interesting to compare their numbers because they're so similar. Joiner had 242 more career yards and a 16.2 yards-per-catch average to Irvin's 15.9. They're tied with 65 touchdowns apiece. Joiner was a popular player, well-liked by everybody, hardworking, modest. But he was basically a workhorse, a cog in a great San Diego passing machine that had other weapons, such as Kellen Winslow and J.J. Jefferson and Wes Chandler. Except for the four seasons in which he teamed with Alvin Harper, Irvin and tight end Jay Novacek made up Dallas's passing attack. Irvin did it for many seasons without help, and he did it superbly. –Paul Zimmerman
Six Receivers Dr. Z Thinks Belong in the Hall
1. Lynn Swann (1974-82) His numbers aren't good enough is the argument. My pitch has been quality over quantity. He saved his best for when the stakes were highest.
2. James Lofton (1978-93) He was so dynamic downfield that people forget he could operate as a possession receiver as well.
3. Otis Taylor (1965-75) Classic combination of size (6'3", 215 pounds) and speed that everybody's looking for now.
4. Mac Speedie (1946-52) Finest receiver for the Cleveland Browns teams when they terrorized the old All-America Conference.
5. Harold Carmichael (1971-84) Gigantic (6'8") target who was amazingly effective downfield.
6. Art Powell (1959-68) Forgotten now, but the most feared receiver in the early days of the AFL.
Thursday November 09, 2000
Meet the candidates
Oh, man, what a roster. Lynn Swann, who will automatically go on the January ballot because he was a finalist last year, plus the following seven: Cliff Branch, Gary Clark, James Lofton, Art Monk, Drew Pearson, Ahmad Rashad and John Stallworth. Right now I'm looking at Pearson, Rashad and Lofton. I know there are a lot of Monk fans out there who point to his overwhelming numbers. He was very valuable for what he did — sitting down in the zone and catching the 10-yard hook for a first down — but I feel that my top three did more. As far as Stallworth is concerned, I keep telling the Pittsburgh guy on the committee to bring him up separately from Swann. Swann and Stallworth, as a paired entry, always serve to knock each other off. As far as Swann, I've always been in his corner. Not a tremendous amount of catches, but quality over quantity. He saved his best for when the stakes were highest.
Wednesday January 24, 2001
My turn to give Hall passes
Art Monk: His name has come up for years, and I've never voted for him and have always caught heat for it. My argument is always paired with my reasons for pushing hard for Lynn Swann. Quantity vs. quality. Monk caught a million passes, most of them eight-to-10-yard hooks. Swann made spectacular catches at the championship level. I can't gauge Monk's chances this time.
Friday January 26, 2001
Joe B. of Eau Claire, Wis., feels that Art Monk's durability, while he was running up his tremendous numbers, makes him more valuable than my man, Lynn Swann. Let's put it this way: If you were putting together a team, which one would you want, a guy who'd get you first downs or a guy who'd get you touchdowns?
Sunday August 05, 2001
Outside looking in
Art Monk, Wide Receiver
Washington, N.Y. Jets, Philadelphia (1980-95)
A first-round draft choice from Syracuse, Dr. Z says Monk was very valuable for what he did — sitting down in the zone and catching the 10-yard hook for a first down. However, his career numbers are eye-catching: 224 games, 940 catches, 12,721 yards and 68 TDs.
Wednesday December 18, 2002
Calling Hall stars
Cliff Branch, Isaac Curtis, James Lofton, Art Monk, Drew Pearson, Sterling Sharpe, Wesley Walker.
Well, they'd better pick their wideouts in a hurry, because the way things are going now, all the records are gonna drop fast. I think a Hall of Fame wideout has to be able to stretch the field, and that would eliminate Monk, a valuable receiver but a guy who made a career out of eight-yard hooks. Lofton had it all — size, speed, moves, intelligence — well, almost all, because he did drop the ball on occasion. But I like him the best of what's here. Pearson was extremely valuable to the Cowboys organization, and a great team guy. I wonder if Sharpe would talk to the media if he were enshrined.
Friday December 27, 2002
Whine and cheese
Joe of Bridgeport, W.Va., wants to know how I can accuse Art Monk of building a career out of eight-yard hooks when his lifetime average was 13.5 yards per reception. I used the expression figuratively, not literally. Monk was a valuable person in Joe Gibbs' bunch offense, the guy who sat down in the zone and got the Skins a first down. And he did it year after year. I just don't think that's enough of a skill for enshrinement.
Wednesday July 31, 2002
Forsaking Hall others
L.C. Greenwood, James Lofton, Art Monk and Harry Carson made it to the final 10 but not the last six. The only one I'm not behind is Monk, who at one time held the record for lifetime receptions. He wasa key member of Joe Gibbs' great offenses in Washington, but I don't think you make the Hall of Fame on 800 8-yard hook passes, particularly when I watched my two guys, Bob Hayes and Otis Taylor, real game-breakers who put their stamp on offensive football, get passed over year after year until they went from modern candidates to the Seniors pool, a swamp from which few people escape.
Friday April 9, 2004
Laying down the Law
I wouldn't take out my feelings about Dan Snyder on a solid player such as Monk. And this year at the Hall of Fame meeting I didn't say a word about him, pro or con. The fact that he didn't advance from the final 15 to the final 10 shows that other people weren't on his side, either. Monk, to my mind, was very valuable in Joe Gibbs' scheme as a third-down receiver, a guy who could sit down in the zone and catch the eight-yard hook and buy the Skins a first down. A lot of them. Whether or not this qualifies a guy for the Hall of Fame is for the selectors to decide.
Wednesday July 21, 2004
Art Monk is another four-timer. A great possession receiver. Caught a lot of balls in Joe Gibbs' system. Every time I mention that I didn't vote for him because I simply felt that other people were more deserving than a guy who caught 900 eight-yard hooks, I wake up all the Washington diehards, who start screaming about my anti-Redskins bias. Start stirring, you folk out there. It will happen again.
January 31, 2005
Speeding Into History: Jacksonville Native Bob Hayes Won Olympic Gold Medals and a Super Bowl, Yet Proper Recognition Wasn’t as Swift
Hayes was nominated by the Hall’s Veterans Committee last season, and when he failed to gain enough votes for induction, Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated resigned from the committee and called those who voted against Hayes “assassins.”
“No, he didn’t catch as many balls as some other receivers, but he left his imprint on the game like few receivers have,” Zimmerman said. “He forced the zone defense and changed football. To me, that’s more impressive than Art Monk catching 108 balls on hook routes.”
Sports Illustrated SI.com
July 14, 2005
Q: Now that Tim Brown has retired, what are his chances of entering the Hall of Fame?
Q: Do you know how you will vote?
Q: How does he compare to Art Monk?
A: Flashier but Monk had better hands.
And now we move on to … OK, OK, the unstated question. How will I vote? Negative. He dropped too many balls. All rippers for the next mailbag column, kindly check in with Andrew, who will issue you your registration form.
Sports Illustrated SI.com
February 4, 2006
Close but …
SI.COM: How about Art Monk?
Dr. Z: Monk was hurt by Michael Irvin being eligible this year. It's done alphabetically, and Irvin was presented before Monk. I think that really hurt him.
Sports Illustrated SI.com
February 4, 2006
Hall of Fame Q&A
SI.com: Any other comments on the guys who didn’t get in?
Dr. Z: Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg may have canceled each other out. And Gary Zimmerman may have been knocked out by Wright getting in. They aren’t going to put in two offensive tackles.
SI.com: What about Art Monk?
Dr. Z: The negative is that when you played the Redskins, you didn’t say, “How can I stop Art Monk?” He wasn’t a focal figure. The positive about Monk: All he did was help the team win. He was a good, sturdy team guy. But that wasn’t enough.