Sports Illustrated SI.com
February 12, 2007
Monday Morning Quarterback
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
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.
February 10, 2007
Monk’s chant: Redskins great a clear Hall of Famer
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.
February 6, 2007
Art Monk Worthy of Hall
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.
February 7, 2007
Monk deserves a spot in Pro Football Hall of Fame before Irvin
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.
February 4, 2007
Snub of Monk Just Doesn’t Make Sense
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.