The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

August 10, 2007

Dr. Z is swinging…

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 11:48 am

Sports Illustrated
August 10, 2007

NFL Mailbag
Dr. Z

The Hall of Fame (I thought we were over that last week) comes surging to the fore, and the name that simply won’t go away, that of Art Monk, has drawn what Andrew described as “triple-figure e-mails.” He has chosen, as the spokesman for this group, Chris of Martinsburg, W. Va., who presents a pretty solid case for this ex-Redskins wideout. Once we get past the usual list of statistics (yawn), we get to the real stuff:

“His team speech about recommitment near the end of the previous season seemed to be a real momentum-builder for the Super Bowl run in 1991. He blocked and never cried about not getting the damn ball. He didn’t have a long term relationship with Montana, Young or Marino. He had at least four QBs while in DC.”

OK, we all know that I have been a Monk negative for many years. My line has been “catching 800 8-yard hooks just doesn’t do it for me.” Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at that rather supercilious observation. Maybe a player who has drawn such a loyal following, year in year out, deserves more serious consideration. And perhaps those Redskin fans aren’t mere nudniks, as I’ve unfortunately come to regard them, but people who might, just might, have a more accurate reading on the situation than I do. I’m not saying that you’re swinging me over completely; it’s just that I’m a lot closer to Monk’s legitimacy as a Hall of Famer than I used to be.

Chris, the chosen spokesman, says, incidentally, that he interned for the Redskins last year at RFK, “and I think I sat next to you at a game. I borrowed one of your pencils without asking and you didn’t yank it out of my hand. You must be a pretty decent guy.”

Well, Chris, you didn’t and I’m not. I wasn’t at RFK last year, and if that would have been me and you swiped one of my pencils without telling me, you’d have gotten one right in the throat and you’d be talking funny right now. You must have mistaken either Tony Kornheiser or Mike Wilbon for me. The only reason I’m forgiving you for something you really didn’t do is your observation, “I’m also married to a flaming redhead and am in the doghouse.” Probably for stealing pencils.

August 8, 2007

Hall of Fame’s Biggest Snubs

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 9:34 pm

Sports Central
August 8, 2007

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Biggest Snubs
By Brad Oremland

The PFHOF has 249 members. Of these, 47 played before the Modern Era (1946-present), on both offense and defense. Another 21 are coaches, and 17 are what the Hall calls “contributors” — mostly owners, with a few league officials and general managers thrown in. The other 164 are Modern Era players. Of these 164: 23 are quarterbacks, 25 are running backs, 18 are receivers, 7 are tight ends, 32 are offensive linemen, 25 are defensive linemen, 16 are linebackers, 17 are defensive backs, and 1 is a placekicker.Let’s start by examining offense. An NFL offense typically uses one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, and five offensive linemen. Given that QB is a uniquely important position, it seems reasonable that quarterbacks would be over-represented in Canton. Looking at the 105 Modern-Era offensive players in the Hall:

* 22% are quarterbacks
* 24% are running backs
* 17% are wide receivers
* 7% are tight ends
* 30% are linemen

Quarterbacks make up 9% of the offensive players on the field. RBs are 18%, but one of those is the fullback — for the last 25 years a blocking position, where no one has been enshrined or even gotten to the semifinals of the voting process (the last fullback voted in was either John Riggins, who retired 22 seasons ago, or John Henry Johnson, whose last season was 1966.) Wide receivers and tight ends combine for over 27% of the offense. Linemen are almost half (45.5%).

What this tells us is that running backs are over-represented in the Hall of Fame — too many are in — at the expense of receivers and linemen.

Wide Receiver

Now that Benny Friedman, Hickerson, and Thomas are in, the biggest HOF snub remaining is Art Monk. Monk is the only eligible Modern-Era player ever to hold the NFL record for career receptions who is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s not just Monk who’s being left out, though.

August 5, 2007

Woody Paige provides an insider’s view

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 11:43 am

The Denver Post
August 5, 2007

Secret’s out on Fame game

I raved on.

“He was the greatest linebacker on third- and fourth-and-1 anyone watched in the 1970s and ’80s. He stuffed quarterback sneaks, tailback runs and fullback dives by lining up 10 yards back and racing to the spot before the back arrived. He was a true student and gentleman of the game, an all-pro and a winner.”

I quoted his coaches and teammates and opposing coaches and offensive players. And I closed by saying, “The Denver Broncos don’t have one player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Honor the players who have passed through Denver over 40 years by recognizing Randy Gradishar as their first inductee, the heart and soul of all of those before him.”

Adam Schefter, then the pro football writer for The Post and the president of the writers association, followed up powerfully.

A writer from an Eastern city, sitting next to me, said before the proceedings: “I will support Gradishar.”

He was one of only two electors to negatively cast Gradishar: “They always handed out too many tackles in Denver.” (Gradishar began his career playing in 14 games, and half his games were on the road.)

Another voter, from a Midwestern town, said a (highly respected) NFL franchise executive told him Gradishar “is not a Hall of Famer.”

Gradishar fell short and has not made it back to “The Room,” as the selection meeting is called.

Blame me. Blame the NFL executive’s unfair evaluation. Blame an influential writer. Blame Gradishar for retiring prematurely.

Blame the system, which is subjective, biased and weighed so heavily toward offensive players (2 to 1).

To misinterpret Winston Churchill, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process is the worst, until you consider all other forms.

I have a lifetime right to vote on Cooperstown candidates. You are sent a list, check 10 names and send it back. No discussion.

At least with professional football, experienced football observers confront each other in a room, argue and advocate and vote (with secret votes, unfortunately) on potential Hall of Famers. Eight of 40 voters can prevent the inclusion of an aspirant.

In 2004, the Broncos’ superstar quarterback was eligible for induction. I uttered the shortest speech in the committee’s history: “Gentlemen, I give you John Elway.”

There was applause, as much for brevity as for Elway.

I’m no longer on the committee- because I was working in New York in 2006 (and there was a sentiment among HOF officials that there would be too many voters from New York) and because when I returned from New York, The Post had instituted a policy prohibiting writers from serving on Hall of Fame committees, and a Rocky Mountain News reporter replaced me.

But I still get e-mails about contenders, and more about Art Monk than anybody else. He retired with what were then the most receptions (940) in league history. Monk is always close, but not in. (Some claim he was Washington’s third most effective receiver.)

Peter King on Carter vs. Monk

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 11:43 am

Sports Illustrated
August 4, 2007

Don’t forget the ‘D’

What to do at receiver. Art Monk is gaining traction, and Andre Reed — who has the same kind of vehement support in Buffalo as Monk has inside The Beltway — is still alive. Now Cris Carter becomes eligible, and his numbers dwarf all the others not in. He has 161 more catches than Monk, for 62 more touchdowns and five more Pro Bowls. Monk, of course, has the championships and Carter doesn’t, but then you come down to the issue of how much blame do you put on Carter for Gary Anderson missing a chip shot that would have put Carter’s Vikes in the Super Bowl nine years ago? Regardless, Carter’s great career muddies the water for Monk.

10 guys who belong in the Hall

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 2:21 am

FOX Sports on MSN
August 3, 2007

10 guys who belong in the Hall

I couldn’t agree more. Monk and Reed top my list of the 10 players not in the Hall of Fame who deserve to have their bronze busts displayed.

1. Art Monk, wide receiver, Redskins

Like Reed, Monk’s numbers are indisputable. He trails Reed by just 11 catches (940), ranking sixth; he is 11th in yards with 12,721 but ranks just 31st in touchdowns with 68. However, he once caught at least one pass in 183 consecutive games, and unlike Reed, Monk has three Super Bowl rings with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien) throwing the passes.
Theismann once said “Art was Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice was,” and one Hall of Fame voter said he “remains mystified” why his fellow selectors have not seen the light, if for no other reason than no one currently enshrined in the Hall has more catches than Monk.

Monk was as steady as they come, but he was a quiet man who did not have much to say, and maybe that’s why the voters have looked down on him, teasing him with seven finalist appearances but rejecting him each time when it came to the final vote.

Monk played in three Pro Bowls, was named to the NFL’s All-Decades team of the 1980s and is in the prestigious Redskins’ Ring of Fame. Bill Parcells once said “Monk is headed to Canton downhill on roller skates.” It has been a long hill, and sadly, the end is nowhere in sight.

August 4, 2007

When NFL’s Art Monk Caught, People Looked

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 12:53 pm

Investor’s Business Daily
August 3, 2007
When NFL’s Art Monk Caught, People Looked

Trash talking and showboating were antithetical to his approach, for he embodied professionalism and carried himself with dignity on the field.

Art Monk’s goal was simple: Let his achievements do the talking.

Did they ever.

Monk was one of the premier wide receivers in National Football League history. In 16 seasons, his first 14 with the Washington Redskins, he caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns. His reception total was a record that fell to a host of receivers.

He set all-time NFL marks for most catches in a season (106) and most consecutive games with receptions (183), both of which have been broken, and owns many Redskins receiving records.

Monk, a key player on three Redskins NFL title teams, has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame seven times.

As Monk saw it, his silence was golden. “I’ve had guys say stuff to me and look me right in the eye and try to intimidate me,” he said during his playing days. “But I just go back to the huddle and say, ‘I’m going to catch this one, and after I catch it maybe I can run over him.’ I found that I excel more in those situations than when someone doesn’t say anything to me.”

While making his mark on the NFL, Monk handled his work in yeoman fashion. There was nothing fancy about his pass-catching skills, for he was more substance than style. His trademark pass pattern was the dodge route, a short, precise pattern over the middle.

At 6 feet 3 inches, 210 pounds, Monk possessed the size, power and toughness to execute the pattern, maneuvering through traffic and fending off linebackers and other defenders. Many times he gained big yardage after the catch.

His timing on patterns was impeccable; he was often where the quarterback expected him to be. This statistic exemplifies his value: Of his 91 catches in 1985, 62 went for first downs. Of his 32 third-down catches, 31 went for first downs.

Monk, a consummate team player, did anything it took to win games. Late in a 56-17 rout of Atlanta in 1991, he caught a pass near the sideline for a first down. He could have stepped out of bounds, but plowed forward for a few extra yards.

The next day, Redskins special teams coach Wayne Sevier repeatedly showed a film of the play to his unit. “Here’s a guy going to the Hall of Fame,” Sevier told his players. “Watch what he does here.”

Monk drove himself hard to improve his strength and conditioning through a rigorous workout plan. It consisted of weightlifting, wind sprints, distance running and racquetball. He often ran grueling sprints on a 45-degree, 15-yard hill, in one workout running 25 times uphill with straight leg pumps, then 25 times backward, then 25 times in a stutter step. He added six 220-meter sprints and six 110-meter sprints to his repertoire. He also ran with a weight belt.

Terry Metcalf, a Redskins running back in 1981, Monk’s second year in the NFL, inspired him. “(Metcalf) was a fanatic with training and staying in shape,” Monk said.

Monk’s businesslike approach to football influenced other players.

“Monk was huge for a wide receiver. He could run, he had great hands, he was very physical, he had the talent, and he had the work ethic,” former Redskins tight end Don Warren told IBD. “I kind of molded myself a little after him, just watching the way he worked out. We spent many summers running sprints on the track. He’s one of the hardest workers.”

Joe Theismann, who passed to Monk during Washington’s NFL title run of 1982 — before injuries kept the receiver out of the Super Bowl — told IBD: “Art is as tough as any player I’ve ever played with and had every attribute you’d want to look for. If you were putting together a football team and fashioned it after a bunch of Art Monks, you’d win a lot of football games.”

Similar to his game-time demeanor, Monk was reserved off the field and rarely spoke to teammates. When he did, everyone shut up in what coach Joe Gibbs described as an “E.F. Hutton moment.”

Case in point: In 1990, the 6-5 Redskins appeared adrift, with playoff hopes flickering. Monk took it upon himself to call a players-only meeting in which he softly but succinctly explained that it was time for everyone to get serious about football and to raise their level of play a notch. One Redskin called it “a little bit of a butt-chewing in Art’s way.”

Monk’s words reverberated. The Redskins won four of their last five games, made the playoffs and went on to win the next season’s Super Bowl. Monk was credited with pointing the team in a direction that led to an NFL championship.

“That night Art decided to become a general,” said Bobby Mitchell, the Redskins’ assistant general manager at the time. “That was the greatest thing that ever happened to us. Man, we took off.”

Monk’s self-discipline and drive to succeed stemmed from his youth in White Plains, N.Y. His parents taught him the virtues of perseverance. “My parents always told us, ‘Nothing in life is free,’ ” he said. “Whatever it is you want, you have to knuckle down and work for it.”

Monk loved to play sports, and football interested him the most, in particular catching balls. He played in the streets, in the snow, in backyards, wherever there was a game. He came to admire such dominant pro receivers as Charley Taylor, Otis Taylor and Paul Warfield.

In addition to starring in football in high school, Monk excelled in track and improved his agility and speed. Such skills were valuable at Syracuse University, where he set school receiving records with 102 catches for 1,644 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He never missed a game or practice in four seasons with the Orange.

The Redskins drafted Monk in the first round in 1980 and positioned him as a receiver.

“He was a fabulous athlete, a very smart young guy,” Bobby Beathard, the Redskins’ general manager at the time, told IBD. “He was a good worker, he had speed, he was smooth, great hands, he was a guy who loved to play pro football. I don’t think Art Monk was a really hard guy to figure out or scout.”

From the start, Monk knew he wanted nothing less than to be the best. He caught a team-high 58 passes in 1980 and earned unanimous All-Rookie honors. At the same time, he was drawing comparisons to Charley Taylor, a big, physical Redskins receiver in the ’60s and ’70s who’s now in the Hall of Fame.

“People talked a lot about me following in his footsteps when I got here, and that . . . was an honor,” Monk told IBD. “But I didn’t want to pattern myself after anybody. I had my own style and my own way of doing things. But he was an idol, and I looked up to him growing up.”

August 2, 2007

Art should have been put in Hall long ago

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 9:59 am

August 2, 2007
Art should have been put in Hall long ago

Monk has been among the finalists for the last three years, but he continues to be shut out in the final vote. And the selection of Irvin was a major slight by the Hall voters.

Many voters undoubtedly were swayed by two things in choosing Irvin over Monk: (1) Irvin’s career yard-per-catch average of 15.9 was higher than Monk’s 13.5; (2) Irvin has remained in the media limelight since he was forced to retire following the 1999 season, while Monk has not been nearly as visible.

Len Shapiro, a Hall voter from the Washington Post who continues to lobby on Monk’s behalf, explained in a Q&A earlier this year why Monk has yet to get the vote: “There are a few people in the room who believe he did not have signature catches in big games, that he was not the Redskins‘ big-play go-to guy.”

Joe Gibbs, who coaches the Redskins now and coached Monk back then, recently told reporters that Monk’s numbers suffered because of how the Redskins used him.

“Because Art was an inside receiver, he caught a lot of balls inside. So almost everything he caught was inside, where he would take some hard hits,” Gibbs said. “I think that should go to his credit, but what some [Hall of Fame voters] do is downplay it because his average-per-catch wasn’t as high.”

Monk still had superior numbers. Over 16 seasons, he caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns. He went to three Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and was named to the all-decade team of the 1980s. Monk also was the first receiver to surpass 900 catches and retired with three NFL records in his possession. His 940 catches still rank sixth all-time, 11 behind Andre Reed, who also should have been enshrined before Irvin.

And while Irvin was the main focus of Dallas’ passing attack, Monk put up his numbers in an offense that also featured Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.

Even Irvin himself said Monk should be in.

When a reporter from a Louisiana paper last year asked him who isn’t in the Hall who should be, Irvin said: “Art Monk comes to mind right away. At the time he retired, he was the all-time leader in the league in receptions. There are no definite parameters for what it is, no certain number of catches or yardage. The reality for me is this: … When you catch a lot of passes and win Super Bowls, you should be a lock.”

Ronnie Lott, a Hall of Fame defensive back who played against Monk throughout the ’80s and was his teammate with the New York Jets in 1994, told the Westchester Journal News in 2002 that Monk deserves the Hall of Fame more than anyone currently eligible.

“You have a Hall of Fame for all it represents,” Lott said. “I know he represents all that it’s about. Integrity, love and passion for the game, community, what he gave back. Look how he conducted himself. Nobody I know deserves it more.”

“If he doesn’t get in,” Lott said, “it doesn’t make sense.”

Shapiro said he continues to try to talk some sense into the other voters, “and I can tell you I believe we’re making progress in getting him elected.”

There could be no better time than the next time as former Washington cornerback Darrell Green becomes eligible in 2008. It could be a nice makeup call by voters if they were to induct Monk with one of his former teammates.

Meanwhile, fans, former players and coaches are outraged at the receiver’s absence from the Hall.

“It feels good that people in the community feel that way, but it’s out of my control,” Monk told the Carroll County (Md.) Times earlier this month. “The voters, obviously, haven’t felt that way yet. It really doesn’t matter to me. If it happens, it happens.”

August 3, 2007
Old stars might have to wait even longer for Hall entry

The backlog of deserving players who don’t get into the Hall will only increase over the next few years as at least a dozen modern superstars become eligible for induction.

Next year, receiver Cris Carter and cornerback Darrell Green are eligible. Green should be a no-duh first-ballot addition, while Carter could take a backseat to Monk and/or Reed. With anywhere from three to six players selected each year, there will be room in 2008 for some of the guys who have been on the waiting list for a few years already. Finalists who didn’t make the cut this year were Monk, Reed, Grimm, Dent, Fred Dean, L.C. Greenwood, Ray Guy, Bob Kuechenberg, Paul Tagliabue, Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett, and Gary Zimmerman.

If they don’t make it in 2008, however, it might be tough for many of them to get in for the next few years because a number of surefire Hall of Famers are about to become eligible.

In 2009, it will be defensive end Bruce Smith, tight end Shannon Sharpe, defensive back Rod Woodson and defensive tackle John Randle. Smith, Sharpe and Woodson all merit first-year election.

The 2010 class will be another all-timer, as the league’s career leaders in receiving and rushing, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, will be joined in eligibility by receiver Tim Brown and cornerback Aeneas Williams.

In 2011, a trio of the all-time best running backs will be up for enshrinement: Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis. Also in that class will be perhaps the best cover corner ever, Deion Sanders.

That’s as many as four deserving first-time candidates for three straight years, which would leave only two openings per year beyond that. With six guys going in this year – Gene Hickerson, Michael Irvin, Bruce Matthews, Charlie Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Roger Wehrli – it will mark the second year in a row that the maximum number has been elected. And that trend should continue for at least the next four or five years.

Beyond Monk and the other finalists who didn’t make it this year, there are two or three dozen retired players who merit consideration. But it looks like they all will have to wait behind the recent stars who are about to become eligible.

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