The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

November 30, 2006

Jim Trotter

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:37 am

The HOF voting committee will expand to 40 members this year, and the extra voter will be Jim Trotter of the San Diego Union Tribune, where he has covered the Chargers for a decade.

He hasn’t written much about Art Monk, but he graduated from Howard University in 1986, so he must have caught some Redskins games during that time.  Also, a recent interview of Keenan McCardell included some positive words about Monk, so I’ll put him down as a “Maybe Yes.”

San Diego Union-Tribune
October 21, 2004
McCardell blossoms in rain
Jim Trotter

McCardell turned 34 in January, but said he feels as young as some of his less experienced teammates.

“Being around young blood makes you young,” he said. “I’m happy to be around a lot of young guys. I want to show these guys how to be professional. I mean, they know how to be professional, but if I can help out in any kind of way, then that’s part of me. Somebody taught me, so I can pass that to somebody else.”

McCardell, who is with his fifth team in 13 seasons, credited former Redskins standouts Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders for tutoring him after he was a 12th-round pick by Washington in 1991. In many respects, his game borrows from each of them, be it Monk’s ability to separate from defenders, Clark’s tenacity despite lack of size and Sanders’ ability to make big plays.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys that have played in this league, some very successful guys that played in this league, and we all kind of come with the same thought: You can’t describe yourself as a possession, speed, this that and the other guy,” McCardell said. “You’ve got to describe yourself as a playmaker. That’s the type of guy that I feel that I am. When it’s crunch time and you need a play, who’s going to step up and make the play? I’ve always been that type of guy throughout my career. I think I’m a playmaker.”

A happy playmaker.

Charean Williams

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:31 am

Michael Wilbon is leaving the HOF voting committee, which means one less vote for Art Monk.  His at-large vote will be taken by Len Shapiro, however, who is also a strong supporter of Monk.  Len Shapiro’s vote as the Washington representative will be assumed by David Elfin of the Washington Times, another strong supporter of Monk.  Elfin’s spot as the PFWA representative will be taken by Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

As a writer in the Dallas area, we might expect Ms. Williams to be somewhat hostile to Redskins, but it’s hard to tell if she holds any such biases.  Before writing for the Star-Telegram, she worked for the Orlando Sentinel.  She is also close friends with John McClain, who is an Art Monk supporter.

I have to put her down as “Unknown.”

Orlando Sentinel
July 16, 1995
American Football Conference
Charean Williams

New York Jets
   – CAMP NEEDS: The Jets waived WR Art Monk and traded WR Rob Moore to Arizona. The likely replacement is Ryan Yarborough, who made all of six catches last season as a rookie. Rookie Hugh Douglas could replace Jeff Lageman (Jaguars) on the defensive line

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 11, 2004
Times have changed but Gibbs still a winner
Charean Williams

Daniel Snyder has outdone himself this time.

In case you somehow missed it, Snyder, who has commanded publicity since spending a record $800 million to buy the Washington Redskins in 1999, made headlines last week with his hiring of Joe Gibbs. But unlike his signings of over-the-hill players Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Jeff George, and his hirings of overrated coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier, Snyder the fan finally made Snyder the owner look good.

Eventually, even a squirrelly owner blinded by his fanaticism
finds a nut.

“This is one of the most exciting days of my life,” Snyder said Thursday upon introducing Gibbs. “As a lifelong Redskin fan, it should be for all of us.”

Gibbs, a proven winner, will win again.

The only question is: How big?

Gibbs will get the Redskins back to the playoffs, where they have been only once since his retirement. He knows X’s and O’s and he knows personnel, two things that haven’t changed since he was gone. But can he win a Super Bowl in an era when his Hogs are a little thinner?

In 1992, the Redskins had nine offensive-line starters, all quality players. They allowed 23 sacks and had a 998-yard rusher. In 2003, the Redskins didn’t have even five decent offensive linemen. They allowed 43 sacks, and their leading rusher had 600 yards.

It’s the same at receiver — where Gibbs had Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Art Monk in ‘92, and now has Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner and a bunch of nobodies — and at other positions as well. Expansion and free agency have robbed NFL teams of depth.

Even though he is who he is, Gibbs is going to find winning a little more difficult than when he left.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 12, 2005
Irvin a finalist in first shot at Hall
Charean Williams

Irvin, nicknamed “The Playmaker,” was the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl teams of the 1990s. He caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns in his 12-year career, retiring after the 1999 season with a spinal condition.

The Hall’s 39-member Board of Selectors will select between three and six new members; finalists need at least 80 percent voting support to be elected. The Class of 2005 will be announced Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XXXIX, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Irvin’s induction, though, is not a lock this year.

Marino and Young are expected to be first-ballot inductees, and at least one of the senior nominees, Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman, is expected to be elected. Thomas, a former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who died in 2000, has strong support, and former Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk, who ranks fifth in NFL history with 940 catches and ninth in receiving yards with 12,721, is a finalist again this year.

Last year, former Cowboys Bob Hayes, Rayfield Wright and Cliff Harris survived the cut from 15 to 10 but were denied admission in favor of John Elway, Barry Sanders, Bob Brown and Carl Eller.  Hayes, Wright and Harris now are eligible only as seniors nominees.

November 27, 2006

Peter King Pledges His Support for Monk

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 11:28 am

Sports Illustrated
November 27, 2006
Rethinking the Receivers: Irvin, Monk, Reed present Hall of Fame dilemma
Peter King

Receivers with at least 750 career catches — Andre Reed (951), Art Monk (940), Irving Fryar (851), Henry Ellard (814) and Michael Irvin (750) — have been on the doorstep for years, unable to get in. Add up the total catches of Swann and Stallworth, 873, and you still don’t get to either Reed or Monk.

There are 39 selectors from the news media for the Hall — one hometown media person representing each of the 32 franchises, the president of the Pro Football Writers of America and six at-large reps (including me and Paul Zimmerman from Sports Illustrated). We vote by Dec. 15 for 15 of the 25 semifinalists, and we’ll discuss the final 15 plus the two Senior Committee nominees (Detroit tight end Charlie Sanders and Cleveland guard Gene Hickerson) at the voting session on Feb. 3 in Miami. Of those 17 candidates, we can vote in a minimum of three and a max of six.

It seems to me that the receiver discourse is handcuffing us because we can’t figure out what a Hall of Fame receiver is anymore. Either that or we don’t think the five guys with more catches than almost every Hall of Fame wideout ever are Hall-worthy.

“You guys are running the risk of becoming irrelevant,” Colts GM Bill Polian told me. As general manager of the Bills in their glory years, Polian saw Reed’s importance to Buffalo’s four Super Bowl teams, and he calls it “disgraceful” that Reed hasn’t been elected. “You’re just like the U.S. Congress, with all the bickering and infighting and ‘if this guy doesn’t get in I won’t vote for that guy’ stuff. You can’t get the right thing done.”

I mentioned this to Zimmerman and fully expected a full-frontal rip job on Polian. What I got from Dr. Z was this: “He might be right. Sometimes we get so involved with inner-sanctum nonsense that we lose sight of the big picture. It’s good to have an outsider knock us on our ass every now and then.”

With Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Jerry Rice — each of whom have caught more than 1,000 passes — coming up for election in the next four years, my feeling is it’s incumbent on us to break the logjam. This would be the year to do it. It’s not a strong year for new candidates, with Bruce Matthews, Terrell Davis and Randall McDaniel the best of the newcomers.

I’d say over the last five years, receiver-wrangling has taken up more than its fair share of time in the meetings. We just can’t agree on who belongs. I forget which year it was, but we spent 46 minutes debating the merits of Monk in one meeting. That’s the longest debate I recall in my decade-and-a-half at this post.

“The Hall of Fame is about impact, not statistics,” said one of the most responsible and conscientious voters in the room, longtime NFL writer Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. “Sometimes it’s tricky separating the two. You can debate Monk, Irvin and Reed into the night. And we have. Clearly we haven’t been able to come up with a consensus opinion on their impact in the game and where they fit historically. That doesn’t mean the door has been closed on any of them.”

Many voters, including me, would like to see the 32-person panel increased to include long-time coaching and front-office authorities, and some current writers who aren’t now on the panel. Not just head coaches or big-name GMs either. I’d love to see Ron Wolf and Don Shula in the room for their decades of expertise, but two other names I’d propose are the advance pro scouts who critically analyzed players from their teams’ next games for years: Tim Rooney of the Giants and Bob Ferguson, the former Bills and Seahawks general manager. We’d be a better panel with those four men in the room, along with some veteran and sage football analysts like Vito Stellino and John Czarnecki, both of whom have chronicled the game with a critical eye for over 30 years. The number we work with now is sensible, I suppose. But why not make it an even 50? “Bringing in outsiders would inject new ideas into the discussion,” said veteran San Francisco scribe and voter Ira Miller. Hear, hear.

Back to the wideout question. The recent historical evenness of guards and wide receivers drives Polian crazy.

“I’m as old-school as football gets,” Polian said. “I love offensive linemen. But no defensive coordinator ever made a gameplan that said, ‘We’ve got to stop this guard to be able to win this game.’ Defensive coordinators often say that about receivers and design gameplans to stop them. If you eliminated Irvin, Reed or Monk from any game, or you eliminated a guard for the same game, which do you think would be more impactful on the offense that day? Missing the receiver, of course. I’m simply incredulous as a football man that these receivers can’t get in. There’s no question in my mind they all should be in.”

The game’s changing. This year’s college Game of the Century, Michigan at Ohio State, was as much a slap in the face about the passing game, and the importance of the receiver position, as you could ever see. Didn’t it seem like almost a run-and-shoot game for a while? I went back and looked at the play-by-play in the first quarter: 35 plays were run from the line of scrimmage. Ten were called runs, 25 called passes (including two sacks). That means in the college football game of the year, between two teams that for generations personified how football was a man’s game won by the team with the best running game and best run-defense, coaches called 71 percent passes in the first quarter. “Establish the run” used to be the mantra in football. That’s dead and buried. For the game, the two teams passed on 56 percent of the offensive snaps.

Sure, that’s college football, and it’s only one game. But it’s a barometer. If you can’t throw and catch, you’re not winning anymore. We’ve seen that in the NFL for the last generation. We’ve enshrined most of the great eligible quarterbacks from 1980 and on — Dan Fouts, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman. We’ve enshrined exactly one of the receivers who played his way into the Hall for what he did after 1980, James Lofton. Eight quarterbacks, one receiver. Isn’t that unjust?

In some ways I’ve been part of the problem. Even though Monk retired with the all-time receptions record, I’ve historically been anti-Monk for several reasons. He played 16 seasons and led his own team in receiving six times; only once was he voted first-team All-Pro. I questioned his impact on a team where the running game and Gary Clark, for many years, were the prime targets to stop by opposing defensive coordinators. I know. I watched the Giants do it nine times over four years against Washington. But last year, after a man I’d advocated got in (Harry Carson), veteran NFL writer Len Shapiro from the Washington Post e-mailed me and reminded me that everything Carson meant to the Giants, Monk meant to Washington. The leadership, the selflessness, the durable productivity … all the same. I decided I should re-think my position.

As I made my rounds of training camps this year, I asked veteran coaches about Monk and the one word that kept coming up was “unselfish.” His downfield blocking prowess kept coming up. His long-term numbers were almost Yastrzemski-like (one or two great years, lots of productive ones, very reliable). But when I talked to Joe Gibbs on Friday, the one thing that stood out was the body of work we don’t see — the downfield blocking, the quiet leadership, and this: Unlike his louder receiving mates Clark and Ricky Sanders, Monk, according to Gibbs, never once said he wanted the ball more. “We used him almost as a tight end a lot,” said Gibbs, “and not only did he do it willingly, he was a great blocker for us. If he’d been a squeaky wheel, who knows how many catches Art would have had. But he cared about one thing — the team.”

So many of the things Carson did can’t be quantified. Similarly with Monk. Not only did he lead the NFL in all-time receptions when he retired, but he blocked superbly and was the most important locker-room influence on a three-time Super Bowl champion. I’m voting for him.

I’ll support Monk and Irvin — the most important locker-room guy and a constant offensive weapon on a three-time champion — in my voting. I remain unconvinced about Reed. I saw a lot of the Bills in their Super Bowl prime, and I’m squarely in the corner of Thurman Thomas as the Bill’s other offensive weapon who deserves entry. Does Reed belong when all the other mega-catchers — Carter, Brown, Rice and, down the line, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss — come before the committee in the coming years?

November 17, 2006

Modern-Era Semifinalists for ‘07

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 9:38 pm

Pro Football Hall of Fame
November 16, 2006
Modern-Era Semifinalists for ‘07

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, and Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel are the three first-year eligible players to make the list of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2007. The Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors chose the 25 semifinalists from the recently announced list of 111 preliminary nominees.

The list of 25 semifinalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era candidates. That list, announced in mid-January, will increase to 17 finalist nominees with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee. The Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are former Cleveland Browns guard Gene Hickerson and Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders.

This year marks the first time that the finalists list will number 17. Prior to this year, the finalist list was limited to 15 nominees, 13 modern-era and two senior candidates.

To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player must have been retired at least five years. For a non-player, there is not a mandatory retirement period, but a coach must be retired before he may be considered. A contributor, who is a nominee who has made outstanding contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing and coaching, may still be active in his pro football career.

The Class of 2007 will be determined at the Selection Committee’s annual meeting on Saturday, February 3, 2007, in Miami, Florida, the day before Super Bowl XLI. The election results are announced immediately following the meeting at a press conference at the media headquarters. Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that between three and six new members will be selected each year.

The complete list of 25 modern-era semifinalists includes:
Terrell Davis – RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
Dermontti Dawson – C – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
Fred Dean – DE – 1975-1981 San Diego Chargers, 1981-1985 San Francisco 49ers
Richard Dent – DE – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
Randy Gradishar – LB – 1974-1983 Denver Broncos
Kevin Greene – LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-1995 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-1999 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Russ Grimm – G – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
Ray Guy – P – 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Charles Haley – DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-1996 Dallas Cowboys
Lester Hayes – CB – 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Irvin Kuechenberg Matthews McDaniel Modell
Michael Irvin – WR – 1988-1999 Dallas Cowboys
Bob Kuechenberg – G – 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins
Bruce Matthews – G/T/C – 1983-2001 Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Titans
Randall McDaniel – G – 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Art Modell – Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens
Art Monk – WR – 1980-1993 Washington Redskins, 1994 New York Jets, 1995 Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Reed – WR -1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
Ken Stabler – QB – 1970-1979 Oakland Raiders, 1980-1981 Houston Oilers, 1982-1984 New Orleans Saints
Paul Tagliabue – Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
Derrick Thomas – LB – 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs
Thurman Thomas – RB – 1988-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Miami Dolphins
Andre Tippett – LB – 1982-1993 New England Patriots, injured 1989
Roger Wehrli – CB – 1969-1982 St. Louis Cardinals
George Young – GM/Administrator – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-1978 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
Gary Zimmerman – T – 1986-1992 Minnesota Vikings, 1993-1997 Denver Broncos

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