Dec 2, 2006
Monk should garner overdue Hall pass
WASHINGTON – The ice jam blocking Art Monk’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame may have finally melted.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King now says he’ll vote for the former Redskins receiver after years of leading the dissent. That may be the difference. King has a powerful say in the small world of 40 voters and gaining his alliance is like Nancy Pelosi supporting George Bush.
Monk is long overdue for enshrinement after retiring as the NFL’s leading receiver with 940 catches. More importantly, he was among six Redskins on all three Super Bowl champions.
That should have been enough. But plenty of politics are played when sportswriters meet the day before the Super Bowl to pick four-to-seven inductees. Someone must champion the player, usually the writer from the team where he was best known. Monk’s delay could have something to do with writers remembering how he wouldn’t talk to them often. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s human nature.
Monk also played alongside Gary Clark, who merits Hall consideration himself. Monk scored 68 touchdowns over 16 seasons and only led the team in receptions six times because he was the greatest role player in football. Monk could have been selfish like today’s divas and demanded the ball more, but he chose to be a piece of the dynasty. Not that he wasn’t dominant, but Monk probably could have gained another 100 catches and 25 touchdowns by lobbying for the ball.
Somehow, King missed how important Monk was to the team. He entrenched himself in the anti-Monk vote for many years until finally being a journalist and investigating Monk’s worth over recent months. On Sunday, King wrote in his blog he would vote for Monk and Dallas receiver Michael Irvin during the Feb. 3 vote.
King’s support will garner enough votes. Unlike many Hall of Fame ballots that can include more than 100 voters, football’s close-knit electorate can be swayed. There are 40 voters — one for each NFL city, at-large voters and the president of the Pro Football Writers of America. Washington has three voters with local ties — David Elfin of The Washington Times as the Washington balloter and Jarrett Bell of USA Today and Len Shapiro of The Washington Post as at-large voters.
This year’s balloting has no locks. Terrell Davis and Bruce Matthews are front-runners. Retired NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue should be included. Monk and Irvin (750 catches) along with Andre Reed (951 catches) may compete for two openings for receivers.
And if I could lobby, it would be for former Redskins guard Russ Grimm. The Hog was on the NFL’s 1980s team and won three rings with Washington. When Joe Gibbs retires, grabbing Grimm from his offensive coordinator role in Pittsburgh to become the next Redskins head coach would be smart.
The only other Redskin who will garner serious consideration is cornerback Darrell Green, who becomes eligible in 2008. But don’t expect him to make it on the first ballot.
Meanwhile, get ready for another trip to Canton next summer. Monk appears finally ready to join the immortals. It’s about time.
Sports Illustrated SI.com
November 28, 2006
An open book: Hall of Fame debates never open-and-shut cases
BREAK THE LOGJAM. Frank Murtaugh of Memphis: “Terrific stance on the receiver conundrum in the Hall voting. And yes, this is the year to clear the logjam (before the eligibility of Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Tim Brown further muddy the waters). You’ve got a healthy idea: expanding the panel to 50 voters. The club of 39 right now is way too exclusive. It’s too easy to blackball a player when only seven votes are needed. And I’m in line with your stance on this year’s vote: Monk and Irvin are Hall of Famers. They stand above the crowd of other great pass-catchers for having won THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS, and having played integral roles on all three. The last variable for consideration by any and all Hall voters should be winning championships. Reed was close, but was he merely this era’s Ahmad Rashad?”
I think Reed was better for longer than Rashad. I’m just not sold that four players and a coach from that Bills regime should be in the Hall. My order of Bills to get in if they all could be accommodated would be Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker, Andre Reed and Kent Hull.
MONK AND IRVIN? NO. From Scott Rich of Minneapolis: “Art Monk and Michael Irvin belong in the Hall of Good, not the Hall of Fame. Because Lynn Swann was elected to the incorrect Hall, do not compound that mistake by electing Monk and Irvin, whose contributions to their respective teams have been recognized in the most appropriate of locations, each team’s Ring of Fame/Honor.”
Disagree. But let’s see what everybody else thinks.
MONK? YES. From David Davis of Ottawa: “Peter, I no longer hate you. For years I couldn’t understand what you had against Monk. To me it just seemed like you didn’t want to listen to anybody about why he’s deserving. Then you said you would go for a guy like Michael Irvin, a player with character issues among other things, and I just thought Monk maybe hit your car one day and you had a grudge. You have just made my week, you have seen the light; you understand that a good teammate is a guy who will do the dirty stuff and take a backseat to other teammates while leading by example. That’s what those Redskins were all about.”
Part of being on the committee is to take the heat, and I’m fine with that. Part of it too, I think, is not being so rock-solid and absolute that a good argument can’t change your mind. As far as Irvin goes, off-field stuff, by our by-laws, shouldn’t be part of our deliberations. I can’t speak for everyone, but with me, I don’t care if Irvin robs four banks tomorrow. He’ll have my vote because of his consistent greatness on the field.