The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

April 24, 2006

Ed Bouchette

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:55 pm

Ed Bouchette is a longtime sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  He has written extensively on Monk but has not committed either way.  During Monk's early years of eligibility, Bouchette understandbly favored Swann and Stallworth, but that is no longer an issue.  I think it's pretty clear that Bouchette doesn't oppose the idea of Monk in the Hall of Fame, but whether he would vote for Monk over other candidates is an open question.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 11, 1994
Monk is great receiver but record for catching passes is insignificant
Ed Bouchette

Let us take a moment to react, along with everyone else, to Art Monk setting a National Fotoball League record for catching passes in 178 consecutive games:


Years ago, no one paid much attention to how many games in a row a receiver caught a pass, just as they did not make note of how many straight games running backs ran for yards or quarterbacks completed passes.

Jack Ham, the Steelers' Hall of Fame linebacker, thinks Monk's a great receiver but he laughs at the record-keeping.

''I made at least one tackle in every game that I played,'' Ham said.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 3, 1995
Fish are flopping and coach may fry
Ed Bouchette

A funny thing happened as Jerry Rice honed in on Art Monk's career record of 934 pass receptions — Monk returned to play.

The Eagles signed Monk for the last four games of the season, which means his record of 934 may be extended. Rice has 905 catches.

''Oh, man, I thought this guy had retired! I don't have a chance now,'' Rice said in jest before turning more serious.

''I know Art still has talent. It surprised me no one picked him up in the earlier part of the season. I felt I had a legitimate shot at it. With Art's signing, it goes right out the window. It's OK. I'd rather see him back on the field. He can still play.''

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
January 21, 2001
Swann's Song
Ed Bouchette

"I'd like to believe I'm worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame," Swann said. "Part of me thinks, I wish I were. The other part thinks if I never go in it doesn't diminish anything I've done.

"But I'm much more an optimist than a pessimist."

Said Dan Rooney, "There's no question, he's one of the great receivers who ever played this game."

Besides Stallworth, Art Monk is the other wide receiver on the list, but this is his first year of eligibility.

Chuck Noll, the Steelers Hall of Fame coach, believes Swann should have been elected long ago, ahead of some who have made it.

"A guy like Tommy McDonald's in there who couldn't carry Lynn's jock," said Noll, who is not prone to hyperbole.

Which general manager in today's game would choose Art Monk over Lynn Swann in his prime? Which receiver in the Hall of Fame would a cornerback least prefer to cover than one who is not yet in, Swann?

Swann's statistics were held down by the offensive system in which he played and, admittedly, by his coach. But it was a system that produced one of football's greatest dynasties.

"I don't think there's a receiver who wouldn't want to get the ball all the time and have an opportunity to make catches," Swann said. "But if you ask me if I'd trade in our four Super Bowls for more catches in a season or a career, the answer is no.

"I certainly think I had a good impact in winning those Super Bowls and getting us to the Super Bowls. I wouldn't trade that for anything."

Lynn Swann, Steelers 1974-82 336 5,462 51

… and three who might deserve induction, too

Name, team Yrs. Rec. Yds. TDs

Art Monk, Redskins/Jets/Eagles 1980-95 940 12,026 65

James Lofton, Packers/Raiders/Bills/Rams/Eagles 1978-93 764 14,004 75

John Stallworth, Steelers 1974-87 537 8,723 63

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
February 2, 2002
Stallworth, Kelly Favored to Enter Hall
Ed Bouchette

For years, the vote was split between Swann and Stallworth, preventing either's election. After Swann broke through last year, many see this as Stallworth's time to follow. Of the 15 wide receivers in the Hall of Fame, Stallworth's yardage is better or comparable to 11. Two other finalists at wide receiver, though, are two of the most prolific in the game. James Lofton's 14,004 yards receiving is second only to Jerry Rice. Art Monk, a finalist last year as well, has 12,721 yards.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 12, 2003
So, What Exactly Makes a Player Hall of Fame Material?
Ed Bouchette

There are two shoo-ins on the list this year, quarterback John Elway and running back Barry Sanders. That leaves spots for one to four more men to be selected, and the debate will take place over the next 3 1/2 months.

Take wide receiver Art Monk. He has been eligible for several years and has not made it. Yet he has numbers that blow away every Hall of Fame receiver. Monk caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns during a 16-year career. He has three Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins. By comparison, Lynn Swann caught 336 passes for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Does Swann deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and Art Monk not? Both made three Pro Bowls and Swann has one more title ring. Arguments against Monk are that he was a product of the system, that he caught short passes and that he rarely did anything spectacular the way Swann did. But how do you ignore his sheer body of work? He has more yards receiving than any of the 17 Hall of Fame receivers.

On the other hand, Monk's accomplishments came during a more receiver-friendly era, when new rules favored the passing game and protected the quarterbacks and receivers more than during Swann's career. Still, a rookie receiver today would have to catch 100 passes a season for the next 13 seasons to top Monk.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
February 8, 2004
Higher Calling: Hall is an Exclusive Club; Not Everyone is Invited
Ed Bouchette

Pro football fans are angry over the non-election of various candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which took place the day before the Super Bowl and with the process that led up to that final vote.

The majority are not irate that John Elway, Barry Sanders, Bob Brown and Carl Eller were selected for induction in Canton in August. They're mad because others did not make it. They're mad in Dallas that two former Cowboys, Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright, weren't voted in. They're seething in New York that Harry Carson wasn't elected. They're in a dither in Baltimore that retiring Ravens owner Art Modell did not make it to the 15 finalists. Redskins fans cannot believe Art Monk is not yet in the Hall of Fame. Chicago fans don't understand why Richard Dent wasn't selected. Dolphins fans wonder why Bob Kuechenberg was ignored again.

For all we know, Iranians are ticked off that native son Shar Pourdanesh hasn't yet been put in.

Please, enough with the anger. This is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the Pro Bowl. There should be exclusivity. Canton is not where the Hall of Very Good resides.

As one of 39 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I've heard and read about the outrage and I'm amused by it. Another selector, Sports Illustrated's Peter King, made a good point to me a few days before the voting. He was a guest on a radio show in Baltimore last year and was told that Ravens fans were — here's that word again — "outraged" because Modell was not in the Hall of Fame. King said it's funny that only Ravens fans are outraged and not those in other cities. Is there anyone in Pittsburgh outraged because Modell or Kuechenberg or Wright did not make it? Do fans in St. Louis care that Dent or Carson are not in the Hall of Fame? Are there fans in Dallas and Chicago who worry that Monk did not make it?

It's a partisan anger, King pointed out; only those fans in that city where the player spent most of his years are outraged.

First off, 39 of us — a media representative from each NFL city, six at-large representatives and an at-large member of the Pro Football Writers of America — met and discussed and argued for four hours that Saturday morning before we put four men into the Hall of Fame. This after culling a long list to 25 and then 15 in two mail ballots. Four is twice as many as baseball will induct this year, and we don't hear much outrage over those baseball players who were not elected.

Second, the people who run the Pro Football Hall of Fame want more selectivity, that is why they reduced the number of potential members for the 2004 class, and beyond, by one. Previously, each class could be a minimum of four and a maximum of seven. They reduced that to three-to-six this year. Why? Possibly too many borderline stars were selected as Pro Football Hall of Famers while getting into the baseball Hall was truly a special honor.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
September 30, 2004
Polamalu Plan: Pick Palmer's Pocket
Ed Bouchette

"It would be a blessing for me to get my hands on the ball," said Polamalu, who speaks like a Tibetan Monk but plays the game like Art Monk. Polamalu gives the feeling that he would intercept Palmer and later apologize to him, the way the mafia kills and then sends flowers to the funeral.

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