The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

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.


  1. John,
    Monk played at a time when the league was in transition, with big wide receivers coming in starting five years out, and dominating the media…as you point out in your comments about who is next in pipeline. That explains why he was not consistently in pro bowl – less flashy, lower profile than some big talkers on other teams…He shared the ball with two gifted deep threats, G Clark and R Sanders, which explains the lack of leading the team each season. When you talk to defensive backs, they’ll tell you on third and less than ten, you knew the pass was going to Monk, and you could not stop him. They’ll tell you that Clark would not have been open as much without Monk drawing the attention in the short and mid-range of the defense. Despite sharing the ball, he still exited the league as the all-time leader in receptions. He at one time held the record for most receptions in a season (106 in 1984, despite being on a run first team) and most consecutive games with reception. Those Redskin teams frequently spent the second half running out the clock, which further impacted his statistics…And, he was the consistent glue on a team that had three different quarterbacks, three different running backs in their Super Bowl winning efforts – the same praise heaped today on Tom Brady, by the way – consistency regardless of who is around him. Look at the offensive statistics (points, yards) the Redskins put up in those glory years, and then ask yourself why? Gibbs record in this era seems to indicate it was more than just good solid coaching…the consistent part of equation was Art Monk. Finally, he revolutionized downfield blocking for wide receivers. You ask great questions – there are solid answers, and the “hall qualities” of Monk are broader than statistics. His accomplishments need to be judged with an eye towards both individual and team statistics, as he was the definition of the “heart of the Redskins.” He deserves to be in.

    Comment by Jim Noble — February 6, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

  2. To Peter King:

    “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.”

    Given that it was your leadership that blocked Monk in the first place before these more recent receivers became eligible, I think it’s somewhat two-faced to say “it’s a shame that he’ll lose out due to the stats now that I support him.”

    To John McClain:

    Our angry emails have hurt Monk’s chances more so than active lobbying against him by Zimmerman and King (prior to this year)? Really? Please, don’t insult our intelligence.

    Comment by John L. — February 7, 2007 @ 1:38 am

  3. Dear John the questions you ask are legitimate and here are my answers being just a fan of football and not having the true and total stats in front of me my answers are 1 three times to the pro bowl this is just one example of of how out of sorts the hall of fame selection is are there not members of the hall of fame that have less than three trips to the pro bowl as a player, and is there a probowl minimum to get in hte hall of fame. 2 led the team in receptions fewer than five times Art Monk played in a ball control offense that used the run more than the pass and when the pass was used do you throw into double coverage or try for the clearly open recevier(monk was double covered a lot) 3 Gary Clark a great reciever in his own right able to get open in the middle of the field a great deep threat and most often in single coverage . The discussion here is not to make excuses for not electing Art Monk to the N.F.L Hall of Fame but to try and get an ultimate professional and team player to his rightful place in Canton.

    Comment by andre pitts — February 7, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

  4. More career receptions than Irving.
    More career receiving yards than Irving.
    More career total yards from scrimmage than Irving.
    More career touchdowns than Irving.
    More quality WR teammates than Irving.
    Same number of rings as Irving.

    Comment by Tarryl Madison — February 8, 2007 @ 3:18 am

  5. What I believe is missing, and something I’m interested in is a more statistical based analysis of why this is such a big problem. Sites like Football Outsiders have taken on the “sabermetric” style of analysing football stats in a different way to the traditional with often remarkable results. I am quite sure if you start to look at the DVOA ratings and Win Shares for a guy that converted so many key 3rd downs, who caught >100 passes in an era when that was pretty much unheard of, and when we analyse the stats in terms of normalised relatives to league averages (z-scores and the like), we can show Monk was actually a lot more dominating than we might think.

    Anyone who has read the book “Dominance” by Eddie Epstein can see the kind of thing that I mean, where he showed that the 1991 Redskins team was actually the 2nd best team of all time in terms of dominance in the league.

    We all know that era is a huge factor in downplaying Monks numbers, its time we started crunching some numbers in a more advanced way to be able to compare his achievements in an era-independent context. I am very certain people will be extremely surprised at just how high Monk’s value would scale up when compared to the league/era he played in, relative to the same guys today who are putting up bigger numbers but in a totally different context.

    Comment by Lee Harris — February 8, 2007 @ 5:46 am

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