The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

February 27, 2007

Condoleeza Rice thinks Art Deserves the Hall

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 11:22 pm

February 27, 2007
Rice sees wide world of Sports
George J. Tanber

Name an African-American athlete, past or present, you admire and why.

I admire Doug Williams for what he did. By winning that Super Bowl, he broke the stereotype about black quarterbacks in a very important way. And Art Monk, who I just think did everything quietly and with class. As a result, he may not get the adulation that I think he deserves.

February 19, 2007

Some Hall of Fame voter thoughts

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 7:26 pm

Yahoo! Sports
February 2, 2007
Sniff, Sniff
Jason Cole

MIAMI – In a game that honors an incredibly small percentage of players as Pro Football Hall of Famers, the process of electing them is a brutally inexact science.

Or as long-time voter Len Pasquarelli of suggested: It really comes down to a “smell test.”

“There’s no one way to measure a player’s achievement,” said Pasquarelli, who will be among 40 selectors who gather Saturday morning to discuss the 17 finalists for this year’s Hall of Fame induction. “It’s not just about honors or Pro Bowls or Super Bowls or stats … At the end of the day it really comes down to a gut reaction. Does this guy smell like a Hall of Fame player?”

Pasquarelli’s sentiment was shared in some way by every Hall selector that Yahoo! Sports spoke with this week. Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer understands the difficulty better than most. Grossi votes in both the football and baseball processes.

“Baseball is pretty straight-forward because you have a lot of statistics that can show how good a player was over his career,” Grossi said. “You get the ballot and go over it and that’s it. Football is much more involved. There are some stats that are really overrated. There are some that help you.”

Then there are some positions that don’t have any relevant stats, such as for offensive linemen.

“How do you tell who was a better guard?” Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News said.

Making the process more difficult is the similarity of some players. Among this year’s finalists are three interior offensive linemen: Bob Kuechenberg, Russ Grimm and Bruce Matthews. There are four defenders who were great pass rushers: Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett. Finally, there are three wide receivers who were constants on Super Bowl teams: Michael Irvin, Art Monk and Andre Reed.

Irvin and Monk have been at the center of an intriguing debate over the past two years. Both players helped their teams to three Super Bowl titles and Monk helped the Redskins to a fourth appearance. Both were All-Pro once in their careers. Both had long careers, Irvin playing 12 years and Monk 16.

But in terms of style, Irvin has long been considered the better player. He was clearly Dallas’ go-to receiver, leading the team in receptions for eight consecutive seasons.

Monk, who finished his career as the second-leading receiver in NFL history with 940 catches and was named to the All-Decade team for the 1980s, was more a complementary player. He led the Redskins in receptions in six of his 14 seasons in Washington. He was considered the possession receiver when compared to the likes of Gary Clark or Ricky Sanders.

At the same time, Monk was part of a consistently great team which right now has only two people in the Hall of Fame (coach Joe Gibbs and running back John Riggins). By comparison, the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers have 10 in the Hall.

“It’s really hard, especially with the receivers, because the numbers have gotten so out of control,” Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. “In the ’70s, the offenses were so different. All anybody really did was throw the ball deep. The receptions, the completions, the interception numbers were all so different than today.”

Said Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News: “The standard I use to judge is: Was a given player an impact player of his era? There can be a lot of ways that you judge someone, but no one standard works.”

In addition, the weight of each selector’s vote is much heavier than in baseball. There are only 40 selectors in football – one for every NFL city and eight others who vote because of their status in the Pro Football Writers of America or on an at-large basis. By contrast, there are more than 500 voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“There’s a lot more campaigning that goes on between voters, and I hate that,” Grossi said. “It’s like you run into somebody at the hotel when you check-in and the first thing they say is, ‘where do you stand?’ … To me, that’s why the Saturday morning meeting is so important. I want to hear what people have to say.”

This year, for instance, Monk’s supporters put together a DVD detailing the highlights of his career. In recent years, supporters have done similar things for other candidates.

That part of the process can be fraught with personality issues, as well. Selectors also present candidates, making the presenter’s personality an issue at times. Several people said that Bouchette’s likeable personality has helped some Steelers players.

All of it adds up to a process that is unquestionably difficult. It’s like sorting roses by fragrance.

“When you get to this level in the process, nobody stinks,” Gaughan said.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Bernie’s Pressbox
February 7, 2007
Re: BM: How Did Gary Zimmerman not make the HOF?
Bernie Miklasz

Well, I voted for both Irvin and Monk… it’s not as if voters had to choose between the two. Both are worthy and every year I speak up for Monk in the meeting.


Detroit News
February 11, 2007
Retiring football Hall of Fame selector gets the last laugh
Jerry Green

Some of the Lions’ brass wept in joy for Charlie. I felt triumph in my final shot. And next year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will have a rookie selector representing Detroit, my colleague Mike O’Hara, another exceptionally sharp football writer.

Washington Post
Thursday, February 15, 2007
To Deny Monk, Tagliabue Is a Travesty
Leonard Shapiro

Art Monk deserved better.

And so did Paul Tagliabue.

It’s been almost two weeks since the all-time leading receiver in Washington Redskins history and arguably the greatest sports commissioner of his generation were not voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the annual selection meeting in Miami Beach the day before Super Bowl XLI.

And I still don’t get it. After 24 years on the selection committee, I honestly believed 2007 was going to be Monk’s year, if only because he had waited so long and the number of can’t-miss first time eligible players seemed rather thin.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been responsible for presenting Monk to the board of selectors until this year, when my status — after retiring from The Post in October after 37 years — was changed on the board to an at-large representative. David Elfin of The Washington Times was added to the board as the Washington representative and he made an excellent case on Monk’s behalf. And of course I followed up with more supporting evidence to advance his candidacy.

Monk had been among the final 15 every year since he became eligible seven years ago, and at least this year he made it through the first cut from 17 (counting two senior candidates) to the final ten (actually 11, because there was a tie).

Then, one more time, the unthinkable occurred. Monk couldn’t make it to the last six on a day when Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, in only his third year of eligibility, was among the exalted half-dozen. At that point in the process, the 40 selectors are asked to vote yes or no, and any candidate with 81 per cent of the yes votes gets his ticket punched to Canton.

I’ve always voted yes for any man who gets to the final six, unless I happen to know for a fact that he was an ax-murderer, or worse. And yes, once Irvin got that far, he did get my yes vote, even if I also believe it was a travesty of the highest order that he now will go into the Hall ahead of Monk, for a wide variety of reasons.

I’ve seen too many worthy players make it to the last six, and then get blackballed by what we like to call “silent assassins” in the final yes-no tally. It happened a few years back to Miami offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg, and the poor guy has never gotten that far again, and may not considering the number of offensive lineman–five finalists this year, and more coming–who likely will shove him to the back of the line, including Russ Grimm.

It happened twice to Giants linebacker Harry Carson, who was so frustrated by the seemingly cruel and unusual process that he took the very unusual step of asking not to be considered for induction by the selectors.

Fortunately, we ignored him and eventually voted a very worthy Carson in to the Class of 2006.

But back to Irvin over Monk. Yes, the Dallas “Playmaker” had more touchdown catches than Monk and some very big postseason games, including three Super Bowl victories. Good for him. He’s a Hall of Fame player, but I honestly thought my fellow selectors would take a “wait-your-turn” approach, and put Monk in this year and Irvin next.

Monk’s numbers across the board were more than comparable, including a stunning statistic that two-thirds of Monk’s 888 catches in Washington went for first downs, an incredibly high rate of success for a classic possession receiver. Oh, and by the way, when he retired, wasn’t he also the all-time leading receiver in NFL history?

But far more important in my mind was the character issue. Unlike baseball, that’s not supposed to be part of the equation in the pro football by-laws. But perhaps it should be. Irvin was a loud-mouth, look-at-me, point-that-camera-in-my-direction precursor to many of the preening prima donna wide receivers now prancing across our screens every Sunday.

More significantly, he also was guilty of some despicable behavior off the field, as well, getting involved in a series of highly publicized incidents involving cocaine, hookers, marital infidelity and general flaunting of the law.

Of course, none of those transgressions prevented him from landing a plum job as an analyst on ESPN, where he’s also said some pretty dumb things. And in the weeks before the Hall of Fame meeting, both he and several of his colleagues unabashedly lobbied for his selection. Shame on him, and them, but that’s show biz.

Monk was the anti-Irvin, on and off the field. He went about his business as a true professional, a player who never once went to Joe Gibbs and asked his coach to get him the ball more often. He was a consummate athlete who took great pride in his downfield blocking, a quiet, soft-spoken presence in the locker room who preferred not to speak much to the media if only because he felt uncomfortable in the spotlight. No arrests, no perp walks, no drug busts, not even a whiff of scandal or wrong-doing at any time during or after his brilliant career.

His only semi-flaw? Perhaps some writers on the 40-man committee may still remember Monk’s reluctance to wave his own flag back when he was playing, more than occasionally rejecting interview requests from his own local beat writers as well as out-of-towners when he was very much in his prime and a key part of the Redskins story. You’d like to think that wouldn’t matter much in the selection process, but quite frankly, human nature occasionally takes over, and perhaps that’s cost him a few votes.

The good news is that at least he’s getting closer. The glut of receivers who have been in Monk’s path in recent years — Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, James Lofton and now Irvin — have all been elected to the Hall. Next year, first-time eligible Chris Carter of the Vikings will be the main competition, but it would be another travesty if Carter made it on the first ballot, or any ballot before Monk finally gets his due.

You’d like to think that Monk’s three Super Bowl rings, compared to none for Carter, who never played in that game, will be a telling factor in finally getting Monk to Canton. I’m still convinced that it’s going to happen for Monk, and sooner rather than later.

Sadly, Tagliabue may have to wait a while longer. This year, he didn’t even advance from the final 17 to the last 10 in his first year on the final ballot, eliminated in the first round of voting.

As selectors, we often ask the question, “can you write the history of the National Football League without him?” Of course you can’t write any history of the NFL without having Tagliabue in the first paragraph. Over his 18-year tenure since taking over from Pete Rozelle, an already prosperous league moved into another galaxy in terms of its growth and worldwide popularity.

At the moment, television contracts Tagliabue negotiated are estimated to be worth $25.2 billion. League attendance is nearly at 100 percent. Super Bowl XLI attracted the second largest audience in history, with ads selling for a record $2.6 million for a 30-second spot. And the vast majority of games remain televised, free of charge to the public.

The league never had a work stoppage on Tagliabue’s watch. The NFL has the toughest drug testing program in all of sports, and continues to fund and monitor research to keep up with the latest science of cheating.

Tagliabue presided over the wildly successful expansion to 32 teams, oversaw the building or total renovation of more than 20 league stadiums and played a huge role in increasing the value of each franchise in the league, some now reportedly worth over $1 billion each.

With the exception of Los Angeles, every city that saw its NFL franchise leave town for a more lucrative market — St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, Houston — eventually got another team back, and four of them are now playing in magnificent new stadiums. To his everlasting credit, Tagliabue also strong-armed the impetuously irresponsible owner of the New Orleans franchise, Tom Benson, from moving the franchise after Hurricane Katrina.

And by the way, did you notice there were seven African American head coaches on the sidelines this season, two of them taking their teams to the Super Bowl two weeks ago? When Tagliabue took over, there were none, and his prodding of the owners to adapt the so-called Rooney Rule four years ago to make certain at least one minority candidate be interviewed for every head coaching vacancy has obviously paid huge dividends, on the field and in front offices around the league.

So how could my fellow selectors not vote him in on his first appearance on the final ballot?

Without specifically revealing who said what, let’s just say I didn’t hear a single reason that made any sense at all. There was some talk that he wasn’t pro-active enough in getting new stadiums built for San Francisco, San Diego or Oakland, that he didn’t push hard enough to make a deal to bring pro football back to Los Angeles. Some said the extension in the collective bargaining agreement Tagliabue brokered before he left office has a chance of blowing up in two years because too many owners are unhappy with the agreement.

Mostly though, there was an ugly whiff of vindictiveness in the room.

Unlike Rozelle, a gregarious PR man with a perpetual tan, Tagliabue was a buttoned-down by-the-book lawyer with a backroom pallor. He was stiff standing on a podium, occasionally condescending and evasive in news conference settings.

Over his reign, media access to players and coaches on many teams — including closed practices, no interviews allowed with assistant coaches, not enough time in locker rooms after practice — also was reduced considerably. Tagliabue, some have said, could have stopped it, but never really tried very hard to intervene.

Still, if that’s the reason any selector — 40 media men and women from around the country — voted no, shame on them. This was not about us, and never should be. It was about the big picture and outside-the-box thinking from a visionary CEO who took his league to unparalleled heights, and kept it there year after year as by far the most popular team sport in the country.

Art Monk and Paul Tagliabue both deserved far better, and in 2008, the misguided naysayers in the room need to look in the mirror, come to their senses and do the right thing. They didn’t embarrass Monk and Tagliabue on Feb. 3; they embarrassed themselves.

February 13, 2007

Everyone Wants Art in the Hall of Fame

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 12:56 am

Sports Illustrated
February 12, 2007
Monday Morning Quarterback
Peter King

Last Tuesday, the HBO crew Acela-ed down to Washington, to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to visit the wounded men and women from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the last month, the hospital admitted its 500th amputee from the wars, and the numbers, grimly and unfortunately, are not slowing down.

Two things I’ll always remember. One was a soldier from Minnesota, who’d had both legs amputated after a roadside bomb struck his unit, saying cheerfully to Cris Carter: “Such a pleasure to meet you. A few years ago, in high school, I was a wide receiver, and I used to study tapes of you to try to get better.” Here he was, with his wife stroking his head lovingly, telling Carter what a hero he’d been to him in Minnesota. And here was Carter telling him what a hero he is right now.

We also met a soldier from Jefferson City, Mo., who’d had the lower 20 percent of his face blown off in Iraq. Years of reconstructive plastic surgery awaited this man with no chin, no jawbone. For 15 minutes, he communicated with Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth by laptop. They’d ask a question, and he’d type the answer. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, but I’m still young. I’ll figure something out,” he typed.

Humbling. Inspiring. Highly rewarding. In almost every room, we met families there to support the wounded. The Army, we were told, had learned an important lesson in past conflicts — don’t allow wounded soldiers to sit alone all day, stewing in their misfortune. Get their wives, their parents, their in-laws in there, and surround the soldiers with the kind of support they so desperately need. Great idea, particularly after the sacrifices these men and women have made.

Late in the afternoon, we visited the physical therapy center and chatted with soldiers getting used to their new prostheses. Just before we were going to leave, one soldier called me over.

“You’re Peter King, right?” he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“You guys ever going to put Art Monk in the Hall of Fame?”

“We’re trying,” I said.

Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
February 11, 2007
Hall Voters Dropped the Ball on Monk
Grant Paulsen

IF YOU SAW the exact same crime take place every year for a decade, would you allow it to keep happening? Apparently the NFL would, because the league continues to allow voters to deny Art Monk induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When the Washington Redskins wide receiver retired back in 1995, it was expected that the legendary receiver wouldn’t have any problems gaining admission into football’s most exclusive club. He was second to Jerry Rice on the all-time receptions list (Rice surpassed Monk’s total in the final week of the ’95 season), and he’d forged a resume that was as Hall of Fame-worthy as anything voters had seen.

When he left the game Monk had the NFL’s all-time records for receptions in a season (106) and for consecutive games with a reception (183). A Syracuse product who was known as one of the league’s quietest superstars, I consider Monk to be his day’s Marvin Harrison.

The Redskin went on to amass 940 receptions and more than 12,700 receiving yards during his 16 NFL seasons. One of the league’s most accomplished receivers, the three-time Super Bowl champion was named to the 1980’s all-decade team.

It’s been 11 years since Monk last ran a route. What is surprising–and what’s more outrageous–is that he hasn’t been inducted yet.

Still sixth on the NFL’s all-time receptions list, Monk’s inability to get enough votes for enshrinement is baffling to me.

It was expected that the most anticipated phone call of Monk’s life might come Feb. 3, when the NFL announced its newest Hall of Fame class. Six players got that call that Saturday; Monk wasn’t one of them.

Unlike the rest of the football world, I didn’t see former Raider coach John Madden make his acceptance speech in Canton, Ohio, last year. I won’t see former Dallas Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin deliver his speech this time around. I’m not going to watch this year just like I didn’t watch last year, because I decided last February to ignore the NFL’s most magical of events.

There’s not a reason in the world why Monk shouldn’t be one of the gentleman inducted. He was one of the finest players of his time.

Irvin, the aforementioned receiver who is one of six players being inducted this summer, is not as deserving of enshrinement as Monk. Monk caught 190 more passes than did Irvin, compiled 817 more receiving yards and tallied more career TD receptions.

Unlike Monk, Irvin didn’t retire with a list of records. But he’ll become the Hall of Famer, and somehow Monk won’t.

Next year might be Monk’s year, but this year was supposed to have been his year. Last year and every year prior when Monk was eligible should have been his year. None of them were. Like everyone else who knows about Monk’s impact on the Redskins of the 1980s, I hope that the prime-time performer’s long wait comes to an end sooner rather than later.

Not only do I want it for him, but also for myself, as well, because Monk’s induction will be the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony that I watch. And I like watching them.

Baltimore Examiner
February 10, 2007
Monk’s chant: Redskins great a clear Hall of Famer
Matt Palmer

Football writers are morons.

That statement becomes more clear each year on the day before the Super Bowl when the latest class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is revealed.

More than anything, the most recent class (and, most tellingly, who isn’t in it) should put an urgency into transferring the voting privileges from guys like me to actual players and team management. Year after year, faulty logic is applied to players who get in and to those that don’t. For quarterbacks, the Super Bowl gets tossed around. For receivers, the mind-boggling requirement is that you, as a writer, remember a catch he had.

There’s no unifying criteria, and the most galling thing are the guys that are currently in the Hall of Fame who have no business being in there in the first place. Among the many, Joe Namath stands out. He guided the AFL champion Jets to an upset win over the legendary Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He also guided his team to just three postseason appearances and threw 47 more interceptions than touchdowns. His teams were 77-108 in stints with the Jets and Rams. Gutsy and flashy, sure, but an all-time great he is not.

Gale Sayers was an incredible running back in his injury-shortened career, but if he’s in, so is Denver’s Terrell Davis.

Baltimore people will tell you former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner and NFL pioneer Art Modell should have already been inducted, if only for his immense contributions to the television aspect of the game. Grudge-holders inside the voting panel continue to hold against him the Browns’ move to Baltimore. He wasn’t even among the 17 finalists in this year’s Hall voting.

There’s another Art — down in D.C. — who has been royally snubbed. Art Monk, who didn’t make the Hall selection committee’s final six candidates this year, played on the second greatest dynasty of the 1980s and early ’90s. In 10 seasons, the Redskins made four Super Bowl appearances, winning three. From 1982 to ’92, only the 49ers won more titles. The Redskins of that era featured a relentless rushing attack that starred the team’s lone Hall of Famer, John Riggins.

Despite the ground-game emphasis, Monk still became the game’s all-time leader in catches before his retirement. He was the first man to catch 100 passes in a season. Now, that benchmark is commonplace for the game’s elite receivers, who are too scared to throw the blocks that Monk did unflinchingly. Somehow, Monk has become a victim of his own trailblazing among voters.

Monk finished with 940 catches, nearly 13,000 yards and 68 touchdowns in a 16-year career. Compare those numbers to current Hall of Famers John Stallworth (537 catches, 8,723 yards, 63 TDs over 14 years) and Charley Taylor (649 catches, 9,110 yards, 79 TDs over 14 years), and Monk’s enshrinement should be a given. Hall of Famer Lynn Swann (336 catches, 5,462 yards, 51 TDs over 9 seasons) should do the magnanimous thing and hand his jacket to Monk now.

Monk played in an era where not every game was televised around the country on DirectTV. Sports writers are busy watching one game a week and then spending the next three hours writing, missing out on 12-14 games a weekend. Their ignorance now costs him a deserved place among the game’s greats.

Sports Fan Magazine
February 7, 2007
Art Monk: Boned by History!
James J. Patterson

So Redskins wide receiver Art Monk has been turned down by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And do you want to know the reason? It’s just this simple; he wouldn’t grant interviews to the press. Of course, in the world of professional sports these days, “press” is a misnomer. The field of sports reporting is dominated by television personalities impersonating reporters. It’s also peopled by print sports reporters impersonating news reporters.

Here we have two ex football players with identical records. One, Michael Irvin, is a flashy television star with a bad boy reputation and a smile every mother would love. The other is a quiet religious man with no high profile; who, upon retiring, faded back into his personal life and was never seen or heard from again, except when he was doing charity work. Which one do you think will get picked by a phalanx of Hall of Fame voters who are primarily made up of big media men? Irvin, of course. Voting for the aptly named Art Monk benefits no one, except Art Monk, and his legion of aging fans. But Irvin now has 30 lapdogs on the HOF committee all waiting like hungry terriers for their career thank-you cookie. I’m sure he will oblige.

Since the dawn of humanity sycophants from all walks of life have cozied up to the rich and powerful to catch the scraps thrown from the table, and big media are no exception. Peter King of Sports Illustrated is a perfect example. King headed up the “no vote for Monk brigade” until this year’s election. Then, when it looked like Monk might get the votes needed, he switched and threw his support to Monk. Why? He’s not stupid. He’s not about to get caught on the wrong side should Monk get in. The perfect ass-kisser. Now he gets to shrug and say, “Don’t blame me.” King himself admits that Monk’s chances have faded out of sight as Chris Carter is up for enshrinement next year, and Carter now has a place at the TV table alongside of Irvin. And King will be there, bib around his neck, and lips puckered for bum smooching. As with all forms of groveling, it’s confusing from a distance, but it’s nauseating the closer you get.

It’s time that the big leagues followed the National Hockey League’s example of having mostly retired coaches and players on their Hall of Fame Committees, and kicked the “journalists” out. Time was that traveling reporters were the only ones who had the opportunity to view a player or a team consistently enough to make a trustworthy choice in votes for awards such as this. But that was way back in the days before airplanes and television. That was quite a while ago. Now, any fan can watch any and all games in a player’s entire career. So who are we kidding with a vote like this? As long as the media are the ones doing the voting, how can the results be viewed as anything but a back scratching seminar between the have’s and the wannabees?

Art Monk fans and football fans everywhere are clamoring for a change in the system to reveal the way each voter voted. I disagree. Do that and every Joe Don Looney fan from Main to Madagascar will make every voter’s life hell forever. I say kick out the journalists, make Hall of Fame voting truly the appreciation of one’s peers, the ex-coaches and players who lived and performed in that player’s particular era, but let’s add another wrinkle. How about including some Season Ticket Holders as well; say, those fans who had tickets and attended games for 20 years or more? And perhaps when the next George Allen or Art Monk comes along, justice will be done.

Michigan Daily
February 6, 2007
Art Monk Worthy of Hall
Kevin Wright

If you look at the two players, both changed the game – just in different ways.

One opened his mouth.

The other hardly gave interviews.

One redefined his position.

The other changed the attitude required to fill that position.

One was named to the 1990s All-Decade Team.

The other made the 1980s All-Decade Team.

So why did it take Michael Irvin two years to get inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame while Art Monk is still patiently waiting his turn since his retirement after the 1995 season?

The reason: people remember Irvin.

The Cowboy receiver played the game with flair and arrogance. He started the current trend of self-promotion and cockiness that wideouts Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens have continued. And, last weekend, the Hall of Fame Committee cemented Irvin’s legacy.

I’m not saying Irvin doesn’t deserve a bust in Canton, Ohio, but is he really more deserving than Art Monk, who has been on the ballot seven years?

Monk made the first cut – from 17 to 11 candidates – but couldn’t push through to the final five. And it couldn’t have been because of his stats.

In his 16 seasons, Monk caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns. He’s currently sixth on the NFL career reception list and 11th on the NFL career receiving yards list.

Monk’s critics will tell you that his numbers resulted from his longevity, but they forget his role on those Redskin teams, that went 134-82 and won the Super Bowl in 1983, 1988 and 1992.

Drafted 18th overall by Washington in 1980, Monk usually lined up in the slot. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs used him as a possession receiver to complement the deep threat posed by fellow wideout Gary Clark. Monk picked up the tough yards over the middle and moved the chains to keep drives alive.

But the problem remains: No one really knows the truth behind Monk’s career.

Many of today’s fans just want to see stars like Irvin, the flashy playmakers. Meanwhile, Monk sits on the outside looking in even though he stayed in the league for more than 15 years. He once held the record for receptions in a season (broken by Chris Carter), most consecutive games with at least one catch (broken by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice) and career receptions (also broken by Rice).Irvin talked up his game and backed it up.

But just because Monk didn’t say much or hype his skills doesn’t mean he should be kept out of Canton.

Monk’s nicknames say everything you need to know about his character. “Quiet Man” and “No. 81” don’t really lend themselves to someone who likes to talk.

If Monk had been inducted this year instead of Irvin, fans would have made just as much of a fuss as I’m making right now. Still, as seen from the induction of the humble Joe Dumars into the NBA Hall of Fame, the criteria shouldn’t just come from the stats (even though Monk makes a good case in that category).

Irvin was and, for the most part, still is a man of controversy. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. Remember when he told ESPN Radio that he joked with Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo that he probably has a little black ancestry? Or 2000 when he was caught with marijuana in an apartment and has since been found in the possession of other drugs, including cocaine?

But these off-the-field issues aside, Irvin deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame – just not before Monk got his.

The Redskin legend did his job.

The only problem was that he didn’t talk about it.

Hopefully, the Hall of Fame voters will one year make him – that is, at his induction speech.

Greensboro News-Record
February 7, 2007
Monk deserves a spot in Pro Football Hall of Fame before Irvin
Joe Thompson

Upon hearing that Michael Irvin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame over Art Monk, travesty is the word that leapt to mind.

If we consider nothing more than their statistics — Monk, 940 catches, 12,721 yards, 68 TDs and three Super Bowl rings; Irvin, 750 catches, 11,904 yards, 65 TDs, three Super Bowl rings — then Monk should clearly get in before Irvin. We have not touched on these individuals’ character, which is even more lopsided than the stats in favor of Monk.

The issue is this: The NFL has become a product of its own hype. The only way to make a name for yourself is to brag and boast and show off a la Chad Johnson and Irvin.

In front of the cameras and to reporters, any analyst or coach or player would speak highly of Art Monk and the way he went about the game. He was known as the “Quiet Man.”

Give those same hypocrites a vote for the Hall of Fame and this is what you get, a Hall of Fame that will include an arrogant, self-promoting, criminal blowhard.

Congratulations, NFL! I hope this is what you wanted.

Annapolis Capital
February 4, 2007
Snub of Monk Just Doesn’t Make Sense
Joe Gross

The supposed football experts who make up the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee lost a great deal of respect yesterday when they neglected former Redskins wide receiver Art Monk once again but voted for former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin to be enshrined at Canton.

That was a ludicrous, even disreputable, decision. Certainly they cannot be seen as experts on the NFL after making that decision.

It was an especially irresponsible coming less than 24 hours after Commissioner Roger Goodell made a point of the need for better off-the-field behavior of players in the league. It was something of a slap in the face to the commissioner who realizes the need for better character on the part of those who represent the league.

Monk was always a model citizen off the field. He was a pillar of the community, active in several charitable efforts and giving back in many ways. More importantly, he was never involved in scandals, he was never arrested, he never embarrassed the Redskins or the NFL. Those things can’t be said of Irvin.

Monk was a quiet man who never felt the need or desire to boast of his on-the-field achievements even though they were surely good enough to tell the world about. That wasn’t his style. He saw the things he did simply as doing his job. Those things can’t be said of Irvin.

The selection of Irvin and slight of Monk have to make people wonder about the criteria used to decide who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t.

Obviously, the members of the selection committee have shown they favor a lack of character over those who demonstrated the best qualities that are so badly needed in today’s society. They may not realize that they put themselves into that very category and that they threw out all semblance of their own integrity by the choice they announced yesterday.

The argument for Monk would be moot if his statistics didn’t match up to those Irvin posted. But Monk’s numbers are quite similar to Irvin’s and in some of the most important categories they are better. But the members of the selection committee didn’t seem to think about Monk being better than Irvin in anything.

Here are some Hall of Fame type statistics that were overlooked by the inept members of the selection committee. And we won’t even count the two end-of-his-career seasons with the Jets and Eagles when he caught 54 passes for 695 yards.

Michael Irvin caught 750 passes in his Cowboys’ career; Art Monk caught 888 passes for the Redskins.

Irvin gained 11,904 yards on his receptions, while Monk rolled up 12,026 yards for the Redskins.

Irvin did average a few more yards per catch at 15.9 compared to 13.5 for Monk.

Irvin gained a total of six yards running the ball, while Monk carried the ball 63 times for 332 yards.

Monk led the league in receptions in 1984. Irvin never did that.

Looking at the league’s best all-time statistics, Monk is ahead of Irvin in four major categories: Monk is sixth in receptions, Irvin is 11th. Monk is 11th in receiving yards, Irvin is 14th. Monk is tied for 29th in touchdown receptions, Irvin is 37th. Monk is 26th in yards from scrimmage, Irvin is 39th.

Just comparing those numbers has to make football fans, administrators and even other players shake their heads in wonderment that Irvin is going into the Hall of Fame and Monk is not.

But there’s more.

Art Monk was the first receiver ever to reach 900 receptions and his career record of 940 was broken by Jerry Rice, who remains the all-time leader. Monk retired from the NFL with the record for the most consecutive games with a reception at 183 and he also established the record for catches in a season when he got 106 in 1984.

Both receivers were on three Super Bowl teams, all winning teams, though Monk only played in two of the Redskins wins because of an injury.

Some of the comments about Monk from people in-the-know, which the selection committee members obviously are not, include:

“Art is Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice was,” said Joe Theisman.

“Art Monk was an example for Jerry Rice: That’s what Jerry told me,” said Ronnie Lott.

“I believe Art is a Hall of Famer. I was a pro scout when he was playing so it was my job to know who those guys were. I would put Art in that category but apparently there are a lot of Hall of Fame voters who don’t feel Art Monk was in that category. It’s hard for me to believe they aver saw him play,” said Bill Polian.

As a long time journalist who has watched the NFL for nearly 60 years, it’s almost embarrassing that my peers on the Hall of Fame selection committee can be so carelessly blind to vote Michael Irvin into the Hall of Fame ahead of Art Monk.

February 5, 2007

Behind the Scenes at the Hall of Fame Vote

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 5:28 pm

Sports Illustrated
February 5, 2007
Monday Morning Quarterback
Peter King

“A good man and legitimate Hall of Famer is being denied entry for reasons we never know, by people who secretly vote. Art Monk is a Hall of Famer by any measure. This is not right.”
— Washington owner Dan Snyder.

Dan, not a bad point. As one of the 40 Hall selectors, I’d love to see Hall voting be opened up so we would be accountable in such an important election for how we stand. But what happened to Monk, in my opinion, is mostly bad. Good for Monk: The major roadblock in front of him, Michael Irvin, is no longer a roadblock; he’s in. Bad for Monk: Next year comes Cris Carter, with 161 more catches, five more Pro Bowls and 62 more touchdowns in the same number of seasons. Then Tim Brown, with 154 more catches, and the stat race is on. Every year, Monk will fall farther behind in the numbers game. As someone who changed his mind on Monk and strongly advocated him this year (unquestioned leader on a three-time Super Bowl champ, superb downfield blocker, retired as the all-time receptions leader, never squawked for the ball with some other me guys in the locker room), I think it’s going to be tough to get him in if he hasn’t gotten in by now.

Houston Chronicle Blog
February 5, 2007
Behind the Scenes at Hall of Fame Voting
John McClain

Once we arrive at the Super Bowl on the Sunday before our vote, we’re asked every day about what we think and who we’re voting for. I’ve known since I saw the list of finalists that I was going to vote for Matthews, Irvin and Thurman Thomas. Since I’m on the senior committee, I was going to vote for Hickerson and Sanders, too. I was going to keep an open mind on everyone else. After I got to Miami, I knew I was going to vote for Tagliabue, too. I also was leaning toward Zimmerman.

As always, some great cases were made for the finalists, some more informative and convincing than others. After our first vote, I always feel bad for the candidates who are eliminated and their presenters, especially those who have worked hard on their behalf. Selfishly, of course, I’m always glad it was their guy and not mine.

I had worried that Irvin and Monk would cancel each other out, which didn’t happen this year. It did happen to the four dominant pass rushers who made the group of 11: Dent, Dean, Derrick Thomas and Tippett. I had voted for Dent. During a 10-year period (1984 through 1993) he averaged 11.1 sacks for the Bears. They led the NFL in sacks eight times during that period. They had a 102-57 regular-season record. They won Super Bowl XX, and he was voted the MVP. And yet Dent didn’t make the final six.

I have a philosophy about our procedure. I always vote for the senior nominees. And when we get to the final list of six, I always vote yes on each candidate.

I was excited to see Irvin get in. I’ve voted for him each year. No matter what you think about him as a broadcaster or what he did off the field when he played, the only thing we can consider is what happens between the white lines. Irvin was a great receiver and a team leader on a three-time Super Bowl champion.

Rick Gosselin, the NFL writer for the Dallas Morning News, has done a terrific job the last two years, helping three Cowboys be elected. Before last year, the Cowboys had only five of their former players in the Hall of Fame. On Saturday, he had help from Charean Williams and Jarrett Bell of USA Today, both of whom spoke on Irvin’s behalf.

I still think that Bob Hayes is the Cowboy who’s most deserving of being elected. He and Jerry Kramer are the only senior nominees we’ve turned down since I’ve been on the committee.

I think now that Irvin has been elected, Monk won’t be far behind.

Memo to irate Art Monk fans:

Has it occurred to you that 30 of the 40 voters could have voted for Monk, and yet you continue to fire off nasty e-mails to everyone? Has it occurred to you that all those nasty e-mails insulting the intelligence of the committee just might make some of the pro-Monk crowd switch their votes? I’m not saying it will, but have you thought that you might actually be doing Monk damage? Didn’t think so.

Now, here’s something I’d like for Monk fans to explain to me: During his 16-year career, the players and coaches voted him to the Pro Bowl three times. Why? During his 16-year career, he led his team in receiving fewer than five times. Why? During the prime of Monk’s career, why did Gary Clark have more catches, touchdowns and a better average per catch than Monk?

Anyway, those are three questions some on the committee would like to have answered. I’ll await your answers, and if they actually make sense, I’ll be happy to take them to the committee next year.

By the way, I believe that now that Michael Irvin has been elected that Monk will be close behind. But that’s just my opinion. I also believe Darrell Green deserves to be elected, and he’s eligible for the first time next year.

February 4, 2007

Insights into the Voting Room

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 4:50 pm

Sports Illustrated
February 3, 2007
Lengthy Discussion and Debate on Class of 2007
Len Pasquarelli

But the former commissioner wasn’t the only candidate whose Hall credentials were closely examined. The first round of discussion, in which all 17 candidates are presented, ran more than five hours before the selectors got around to the first “reduction” ballot, narrowing the field to 11. There were the usual procedural issues, the annual ill-advised suggestion that selectors rubber-stamp all of the finalists for induction when the field is reduced to six on the second ballot, plenty of comparative statistics, and subjective assessments of the candidates.

In a week in which the league has celebrated the presence of two African-American coaches in Super Bowl XLI, it would be remiss not to point out that Saturday’s selection meeting was chaired by Steve Perry, a black man. And that, for the first time, the selection committee included two women, veteran scribes Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Nancy Gay.

Congratulations to all of them.

And congratulations, too, to the six new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to the 11 other men who were considered for induction. Know this: Your fates Saturday were discussed with great care and diligence by a committee that collectively takes it charge very seriously.

And Saturday, that meant nearly seven serious hours of serious deliberation.

February 3, 2007
Hall of Fame Q&A with Dr. Z
Paul Zimmerman Why didn’t Art Monk get elected?

Dr. Z: My feeling is that Monk was a great player. But when you played the Redskins, he was not the guy you had to stop. He was a very functional player. A great team guy. But I liked two wideouts better this year. Irvin and Andre Reed.

Will the improvement of receivers’ statistics in recent years hurt Monk’s chances of making it in the future?

Oh yeah. I think his best chance might have been when he first came on the ballot, because he was still near the top of the all-time lists then, but he’ falling. What happened to the all the pass-rushers on the final list of 17 nominees?

Dr. Z: They all canceled themselves out. Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett were all great. But how do you distinguish between them? It wasn’t easy. A guy you’re a big backer of, Bob Kuechenberg, was passed over. Do you think he’s going to make it eventually?

Dr. Z: It’s going to be tough. This year there were a lot of offensive linemen. Bruce Matthews, who made it, Russ Grimm, Gary Zimmerman. And then Randall McDaniel is coming soon. It’s going to be tough for offensive linemen.

Eric Allen and Joey T. speak out

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 4:38 pm

February 3, 2007
Irvin, Thomas Deserve Hall Recognition
Eric Allen

Of course, the Hall of Fame is about recognizing truly great and transcendent players and ambassadors of the game. That’s why I’m truly surprised that Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn’t make it into this year’s class.

Monk and Irvin are very similar in their styles. What made Monk so great on the football field was how he used his big frame just like Irvin. What I think is ultimately hurting Monk is that he played with wide receivers Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark. While having those two receivers on his team helped him win Super Bowls, it’s hurting him as he attempts to make the HOF because he had to share receptions. Monk was a chain mover and you knew if it was third-and-short that he was getting the ball. He deserves to be in the Hall.

February 4, 2007
Monk, Tagliabue deserve to get their Hall tickets
Joe Theismann

As for Monk, I believe he should’ve been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I’m still, frankly, baffled that he isn’t in the Hall. Could someone kindly explain to me how he is not in the Hall? Art has very similar numbers to current inductee Michael Irvin and better numbers than previous inductees John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. Not to mention that he also has three Super Bowl rings.

February 3, 2007

Monk Denied Again

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 5:13 pm

Washington Post
February 3, 2007
Monk Misses Hall of Fame Cut

Art Monk, the Washington Redskins wide receiver who was in his seventh year of eligibility, was not chosen.

Irvin, the former Dallas Cowboys receiver, who won three Super Bowls in the 1990s, got in on his third try. Irvin pleaded no contest in 1996 to felony cocaine possession. Four years later, he was arrested on drug possession charges, but they were later dropped.

The 40 Hall voters were criticized by two of Irvin’s former teammates, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman, for previously bypassing the wideout, who retired in 1999.

They didn’t ignore him this time.

Tagliabue was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Also voted in were running back Thurman Thomas, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, defensive back Roger Wehrli and two nominees of the veterans’ committee — tight end Charlie Sanders and guard Gene Hickerson.

Those who argued passionately for Monk’s induction had been frustrated in recent years when he’d been included among the finalists for consideration but hadn’t been elected. Monk, 49, played for the Redskins between 1980 and ’93. He had 106 catches, then a single-season NFL record, in 1984. When he retired in 1995 after a season with the New York Jets and part of a season with the Philadelphia Eagles, he was the leading receiver in league history with 940 catches. Those records since have been surpassed but his coach, Joe Gibbs, regularly praised him as the model of reliability for the highly successful Redskins teams of his era.

Those who opposed Monk’s candidacy in previous years argued that he didn’t have enough signature moments in his career. Monk’s candidacy also might have been undermined by a reluctance to speak to reporters during his career.

The Hall’s board of selectors consists of one media representative from each pro football city with two from New York. A 33rd member is a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America and there are seven at-large delegates.

A good man and legitimate Hall of Famer is being denied entry for reasons we never know, by people who secretly vote. Art Monk is a Hall of Famer by any measure. This is not right.” — Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder

I’m disappointed that Art wasn’t recognized for election into the Hall of Fame today, but I remain confident that he will be recognized for all the positive contributions he has brought to the game. I can’t think of a more deserving player or person that possesses more Hall of Fame credentials than Art.” — Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs

Denver Post
February 3, 2007
Zimmerman must wait for Hall call

Voted in as the class of 2007 were wide receiver Michael Irvin, running back Thurman Thomas, offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, defensive back Roger Wehrli and two nominees of the veterans’ committee – tight end Charlie Sanders and guard Gene Hickerson.

The 40-member panel deliberated Saturday to determine who among the 17 finalists would be enshrined. Two votes were taken, reducing the finalists from 17 to 11 and then from 10 to six finalists, who were each voted on individually.

Finalists Paul Tagliabue, Russ Grimm, Ray Guy, Bob Kuechenberg, Andre Reed and Zimmerman lost out in the first reduction vote. Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Art Monk, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett lost out on the second reduction ballot.

Time to Vote…

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 2:50 pm

You can watch the announcement of the Hall of Fame inductees online at

Will Art make it?  Peter King puts the odds at 2-1:

Sports Illustrated
February 1, 2007
Hall of Fame Handicapping
Peter King

2:1 — Art Monk, Michael Irvin. Monk and Irvin could cancel each other out, though both deserve to make it. There’s going to be some sentiment in the room along the lines of “Geez, could we please get Monk in and end this annual melodrama with him?” Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson are really trying to help Irvin’s candidacy with some gentle reminders to voters about how hugely important Irvin was to the Cowboys’ success.

February 2, 2007
Super Bowl Blog
Steve Tasker

Having Art Monk and Michael Irvin on the list of finalists will probably hurt Andre’s chances a little bit. I understand Art Monk is getting a lot of consideration. He’s been on the ballot a few times now. One thing that I guess has held Monk back is he was known as a possession receiver. But the guy had 900 catches himself. That’s a lot of possession.

I think all those guys deserve to get in. I played against all of them and I respected them and I know how difficult it was to play against them. So I think they’re all worthy.

Washington Times
February 3, 2007
Monk, Grimm Waiting Again
David Elfin

MIAMI — Art Monk has been a bridesmaid seven straight years. It’s three years and counting for Russ Grimm after eight years of not even getting to the finals. Today, the longtime former Washington Redskins teammates will again wait to hear if they have finally been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

    Neither receiver Monk — who retired in 1995 with a record 940 catches (888 for the Redskins) — nor guard Grimm — chosen for four straight Pro Bowls from 1983 to 1986 before injuries began to shorten his career — will find the road to enshrinement any easier today. 

    The 40 selectors must choose three to six candidates from among a distinguished field of 17 that includes nine-time All-Pro guard Bruce Matthews and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue — both on the ballot for the first time — and nine repeat finalists: defensive end Richard Dent, punter Ray Guy, guards Gene Hickerson and Bob Kuechenberg, receiver Michael Irvin, linebacker Derrick Thomas, running back Thurman Thomas, cornerback Roger Werhli and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman. Defensive end Fred Dean, receiver Andre Reed, tight end Charlie Sanders (like Hickerson, a Seniors Committee nominee) and linebacker Andre Tippett are all first-time finalists. 

    There had been some thought that the tide has finally turned in Monk’s favor after last year’s election of Harry Carson, a contemporary also with more substance than style and because of the belief that receivers have been under-represented in recent Hall classes. But fellow receivers Irvin and Reed were picked for more Pro Bowls and also have strong statistics. 

   Grimm’s cause is hurt by the presence of Matthews and Zimmerman, a seven-time Pro Bowl choice who was named to the All-Decade teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike Grimm, both of those linemen remained healthy for a decade. 

   While both Monk and Grimm have taken a “que sera, sera” attitude toward the Hall, their former teammates believe their elections are overdue. 

    “I can’t see why it’s taken so long for Art,” said Brian Mitchell, the most prolific return man in NFL history. “I hear, ‘He didn’t have a signature catch.’ Constantly catching first down, first down, first down, that’s signature to me. And unlike most receivers, Art blocked linebackers and defensive ends. He caught the tough passes over the middle. He had a lot of deep catches, too. And when Art left the game, no one had caught more passes. He’s got three [Super Bowl] rings and his stats speak for themselves.” 

    Mark Schlereth, a pretty fair guard himself, said he has never seen a smarter player than Grimm. Tight end Doc Walker said he never saw anyone physically dominate like Grimm. 

    “No one else could overpower [Hall of Fame defensive tackle] Randy White one-on-one,” Walker said. 

    Monk and Grimm — teammates from 1981 to 1991 as the Redskins reached seven postseasons, five NFC Championship games and four Super Bowls — also were leaders in their own ways. 

    “Russ was the ultimate teammate,” said Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who played with Grimm on the 1990 Redskins. “To me, a Hall of Famer is a guy who always has your back. Russ also played for successful teams who were built around the running game. That, of course, starts with the offensive line. Russ was a great guard who also started at center and could also play tackle. He and the rest of ‘The Hogs’ had to block [Hall of Famer] Reggie White and the rest of the Eagles, [Hall of Famer] Lawrence Taylor and the rest of the Giants and Randy White and the rest of the Cowboys twice every season.” 

    Quarterback Mark Rypien said that while the offensive linemen — nicknamed “The Hogs” — had plenty of great players, Grimm was “the head Hog.” Mitchell said that the quiet Monk showed him a different style of leadership. 

    “A lot of guys think they have to be great talkers to lead, but Art led by example,” Mitchell said. “He was the hardest-working guy in football. I watched Art work his butt off and said, ‘If he’s doing it, I better do it.’ Art was always trying to become better. A lot of guys play pro football, but not a lot of guys are professionals. Art was a professional.” 

    Linebacker Andre Collins said that professionalism also was true of Grimm, even though he was a blue-collar worker compared to Monk, who would arrive at Redskin Park in slacks, dress shoes and maybe a sportcoat while carrying a briefcase. 

    “Russ had a real serious side when he was talking about the game, but when he was in the locker room sharing those old stories, it was worth the price of admission,” Collins said with a smile. 

    Perhaps today will be the day that Monk and/or Grimm finally end up smiling.

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