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.


  1. Monk’s not alone outside
    By Dan Daly
    February 22, 2007

    It might help Art Monk and his bereaved fans to know that his Hall of Fame
    travails aren’t unprecedented — that, contrary to popular belief, he isn’t
    necessarily the Most Wronged Receiver in NFL History. You see, there’s
    another wideout who’s been excluded from Canton despite holding, for a
    spell, the all-time receptions record. In fact, the guy’s career was, in
    many respects, even more spectacular than King Arthur’s.
    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Billy Howton.
    If anybody has a gripe with the 40 Angry Men who sit on the Hall’s jury,
    it’s Howton. Not only was he a fabulous receiver, a four-time Pro Bowler
    with the Packers in the ’50s, he also fearlessly fought for his fellow
    players as president of the nascent players association. It was on Howton’s
    watch, in April 1959, that the union pushed through the first pension plan.
    The next day — the very next — he was traded to the Browns. How do you
    like them employee relations?
    Did Howton’s labor activities hurt his immediate chances for the Hall —
    after which, over time, he was simply forgotten? Perhaps. The owners had a
    lot of influence over the selection committee in the early days. And Billy
    was always causing his bosses trouble; if he wasn’t calling them
    “dictatorial” at a Senate antitrust hearing, he was playing out his option
    so he could become a free agent (a rarity in that era).
    What’s really bizarre is that he’s never been so much as finalist for
    Canton — even though, when he retired from the Cowboys in ’63, he was the
    career leader in catches (503) and receiving yards (8,459) and was tied for
    third in touchdown grabs (61). (For the record, Monk never held the yardage
    mark and was tied for 20th in TDs when he hung ’em up.)
    It’s almost like there’s been a conspiracy to keep Howton from receiving
    his due. Heck, people can’t even get his name right. In “The ESPN Pro
    Football Encyclopedia” and “Total Football,” he’s identified as “William
    Harris Howton” — even though his Texas birth certificate says, “Billy
    Harris Howton.” But that’s just a flesh wound. Much worse was what happened
    the day after the Colts’ Ray Berry passed him on the all-time receptions
    list in 1964.
    “Berry caught five passes … to raise his career total [to] 506,” the
    AP reported, “three more than the career record held by Jim Howton.”
    Jim Howton?
    That’s the price you pay, I suppose, for spending seven of your 12
    seasons in Green Bay — back when it truly was Siberia — and then finishing
    your career with an expansion Dallas franchise. For all his accomplishments,
    Howton played on only one team with a winning record and never reached the
    playoffs. (He tried to make up for it in the Pro Bowl, though, catching a
    74-yard touchdown pass in his first appearance and a 73-yarder in his
    It’s hard to imagine nowadays — players being so visible, if not
    overexposed — how low-profile Howton was. When, in his final season, he
    broke Don Hutson’s all-time record of 488 receptions, it wasn’t mentioned in
    the Dallas Morning News’ story until the last paragraph.
    And talk about star-crossed. Earlier that year, Billy shattered Hutson’s
    mark for career receiving yards (7,991), but he had to do it three times
    before it was official. The first time, his historic catch was nullified by
    an offside penalty. The second time, it was wiped out by offensive pass
    interference (against the Cowboys’ tight end). Finally, he caught one that
    By the time he left Green Bay, Howton had begun to slow down, but what
    years he had on the Frozen Tundra. His rookie season in 1952 might still be
    the greatest ever for first-year wideout. In addition to leading the league
    with 1,211 receiving yards — an average of 102.6 a game — he scored 13
    touchdowns, establishing a rookie record that, the way I look at it, still
    stands. (Randy Moss finally broke it in 1998, but he had the benefit of four
    extra games. After 12 games — which is how long the season was in ’52 —
    Moss’ TD total was 12.)
    And get this: Six of Howton’s touchdowns that year measured 50 yards or
    longer. (Monk, on the other hand, had only six TDs of 50 yards-plus in his
    16 NFL seasons.)
    One more amazing Howton stat: In 1956 he had a 257-yard receiving day
    against the Rams, then the third biggest in NFL history. That’s not the
    amazing part, though. The amazing part is that he had 204 yards in the first
    half alone.
    Early in Howton’s career, the great Hutson — who lost several of his
    Packers records to Billy — said, “There’s no limit to what Howton can
    accomplish in pro football.” But there were limits, of course. Berry spent
    his entire career catching passes from Johnny Unitas; Howton had to make do
    in his prime with Tobin Rote, Babe Parilli and a still developing Bart
    Starr. Big difference.
    Against the best, though, Billy usually played his best. In 1952, the
    year the Lions won the title, he caught four touchdown passes in two games
    against them (one measuring 78 yards, another 54). In ’56, he scored three
    times in two meetings with the Bears, who went on to play for the
    On top of that, Howton almost always ranked among the league’s leaders.
    He finished in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards, receiving average
    or TD catches no fewer than 20 times. (Monk, on the other hand, did it eight
    times.) There’s no question, either, that, had he wanted, he could have kept
    playing after ’63 — and added to his impressive numbers. If there wasn’t a
    spot for him in the NFL, there certainly would have been one in the rival
    American Football League. But Billy had his records (though they would
    belong to him only briefly). He’d also had enough hard knocks, physical and
    spiritual, to last a lifetime.
    As he joked to Don Meredith, the Cowboys’ young quarterback, at a
    farewell luncheon, “I’ll always enjoy remembering our four seasons together.
    Of course, most of the good times you and I have shared have been off the
    To which Dandy Don replied: “Well, Bill, we also had some good times at
    the games — warming up.”
    So the next time you’re cursing Art Monk’s fate, think of Billy Howton.
    Art, after all, isn’t the only receiver who’s been left out in the cold by
    the Hall of Fame. He might not even be the best one.

    Comment by Dan Daly — February 27, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  2. Dan,
    read your story today for the first time. My son said you called. Thanks a lot for what I think is a wonderful insight.
    who knows?

    Comment by Bill Howton — September 8, 2007 @ 6:02 am

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