Dallas Morning News
October 16, 2007
Hall of Fame window can slam shut
By Rick Gosselin
When tight end Shannon Sharpe retired after the 2003 season, I assumed he’d be a slam dunk for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sharpe left the game with the triple crown for tight ends – most career receptions, yards and touchdowns. Statistically, there had never been anyone better at the position.
But that’s what we thought about Art Monk, too. When he retired after the 1995 season, he was the NFL’s all-time leading receiver with 940 catches. Being the best at what you do logically would qualify you for Canton.
But by the time Monk became eligible for the Hall of Fame, Jerry Rice had motored past him on the all-time receiving list. Rice became the new standard – and Monk was passed over by the Hall of Fame selection panel in his first year of eligibility in 2001. And every year thereafter – seven years up, seven years down.
Now five players are ahead of Monk on the all-time receiving list: Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison and Andre Reed. It’s tougher to sell the sixth all-time leading receiver as a profile in greatness than it is the first.
And as offensive statistics continue to explode in the pass-happy NFL, Monk will continue his slide down the receiving chart. Every year that passes makes it more difficult for him to secure a bust in Canton.
And that’s the potential pitfall facing Sharpe. By the time he’s eligible in 2009, he will not be the all-time leading receiver for his position. Here comes Tony Gonzalez.