The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

August 4, 2008

It’s About Time.

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 10:27 pm

The speech was perfect.


The crowd was perfect.  The ovation was unbelievable.  And “it’s about time.”

It still amazes me how much this meant to so many people … Art’s long wait of course inspired me to create this blog, and his induction inspired thousands to make the trip to Canton, and to stand up and cheer when he walked on stage.  I believe it’s not really just about football, but about the kind of man that Art is.  As he said, “in all due respect, that as great as this honor is, it’s not what really defines who I am or the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life.”

Watching Art Monk go into the Hall of Fame shows that you can win by doing things the right way.  It shows that being a good man can go hand-in-hand with being a good player.  It shows us that nice guys don’t finish last, and can in fact receive the highest accolades.  It’s about time.

It’s also about time to retire this blog.  I’ll leave it up for other fans who might want to help get their heroes into the Hall of Fame.  My personal preferences would be Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, and Gary Clark, but there are certainly many others that deserve this great honor.  The voters may try to discount the opinions of fans, but they can’t do it forever.

As Art said, “Getting here did not come without controversy, as I’m sure it did with some of the guys sitting behind me. But through it all, I’m here with a greater appreciation for something that not every player is able to achieve and for the people who stood up for me and spoke out on my behalf.”

August 2, 2008

Today is the day…

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 9:16 am

When I started this blog more than two years ago, this was the day I was working towards.  In the beginning, I had no idea whether we could really help Art Monk get into the Hall of Fame, but I wanted to know why the voters were not voting for him.

I found out that the majority of voters were in fact voting for Monk, but a very small group was keeping him out.  Some of these voters had actually written very positive things about Monk in earlier years, and were even willing to listen to reason.  Many other fans joined the effort, and he was voted in faster than I could have expected.

But why Art Monk?

I was drawn to this cause by the inherent mystery of the situation.  Everyone I knew could not understand why Art Monk wasn’t in the Hall.  Former players and coaches, TV commentators, and sportswriters consistently cited Monk as the biggest Hall of Fame snub.  The fact that Monk could not be inducted seemed absurd, and I just really wanted to know why.

Of course, I was also a big Art Monk fan.  I was born at Washington Adventist Hospital in 1981, and grew up with the Joe Gibbs Redskins.  The number 81 always had special meaning to me, and Art Monk was a standout on many great Redskins teams.  I also felt a connection to Art’s personality, because I have never been the most outspoken person.  Art Monk showed that it was possible to be great without being flashy.  It was possible to show your skills without showing off.  He was quiet, but his performance on the field did all the talking.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Monk a few months ago, and while I was introduced to him somewhat embarassingly as one of his biggest fans and the author of this blog, he took everything in stride, and showed his appreciation in the understated fashion that is the hallmark of his personality.

I am about to leave my home in DC to get in a car to Canton, where I will watch Art give his induction speech.  Tomorrow, I will see his bust in the Hall of Fame.  It will be the culmination of two years of my work on this blog, but more importantly, it will be a celebration of Mr. Monk’s decades of contribution to football.

Congratulations, Art.  You definitely deserve it.

February 4, 2008

Going Out of Business…

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 8:22 pm

Super Bowl Snaps
Sports Illustrated
February 4, 2008
Don Banks

• I’m glad Art Monk made the Hall of Fame. If only because it now puts the cottage industry known as the Art-Monk-deserves-to-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame Washington lobbyist group out of business.

Their Work Is Done
The Washington Post
February 8, 2008
Dan Steinberg

The Art Monk campaign was waged for years by the fans, from online petitions to those parking lot diehards who dressed in monk robes, from Tom Kercheval’s video-heavy Monk4TheHall site to Ted Jou’s Nexis-heavy Art Monk campaign blog. Hundreds if not thousands of their fellow fans confronted Hall voters directly, demanding Monk’s inclusion.

Sports Illustrated’s Dr. Z finally gave in under the onslaught, telling FanHouse’s Michael David Smith “I’m tired of being the [expletive],” while’s Don Banks no doubt spoke for many media members this week when he wrote “I’m glad Art Monk made the Hall of Fame. If only because it now puts the cottage industry known as the Art-Monk-deserves-to-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame Washington lobbyist group out of business.”

But Banks brought up an interesting point: what will these out-of-business lobbyists do with themselves now that they’ve won? Will they miss the solidarity, miss being part of a cause, miss gearing up for election season each February?

February 3, 2008

Monk ‘Humbled’ By Hall Inclusion

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 3:21 am

Monk ‘Humbled’ By Hall Inclusion
The Washington Post
February 3, 2008
Jason Reid

After many years waiting for a phone call that never came, Art Monk focused on work to distract himself each time another group was elected to the Hall of Fame. But Monk, a longtime standout wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, had to change his routine yesterday when he was among six former players, including Redskins teammate Darrell Green, voted into this season’s class.

Monk received a standing ovation as he entered a Dupont Circle hotel to attend a news conference that former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann arranged to honor his friend. Strangers congratulated Monk as he maneuvered through the crowded lobby, thanking him for his consistency in a 16-year career that included 14 seasons and four Super Bowls (three victories) with the Redskins.

Monk was unable to finish the project he started yesterday, but he didn’t seem to mind.”I never really expected this to happen even though there was the anticipation of it happening the past several years,” Monk said as he addressed family, friends and reporters. “I just sort of let it get by me without trying to notice it, but I’m extremely excited about the induction. I’m also extremely humbled at the same time.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined myself, as a little boy, getting to this point. Whether I actually deserve to be here or not is for [others] to determine. This is always something that was very [unattainable] for me growing up, playing in the NFL and obviously being considered a Hall of Famer. It’s a great honor.”

Two weeks ago, at a dinner hosted by the Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams hugged Monk and said: “This is it. You are getting in this time.”

An eight-time finalist, Monk, 50, had not given up hope of being elected. For his peace of mind, however, Monk needed to distract himself yesterday. He said he didn’t watch the selection show.

“I was home just doing some work,” he said. “Typically at this time of the year, I just put my mind someplace else. I watch TV, I go out and do something, just trying to keep myself busy. I just tried to keep my mind off of it.”

Monk should have been elected long ago, Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs said, because of his importance to Gibbs’s success in his first stint with the organization.

“One of the things on Art’s behalf is that he sacrificed for the team,” Gibbs, who resigned as team president and coach Jan. 8, said from North Carolina during a telephone interview. “As most people know, we used three wide receivers, but Art was the inside portion of the three wide receivers. We used him in there blocking a lot. And a lot of the passes he caught were across the middle, they were shorter passes, and he actually sacrificed so much for the team.

“If we had played him outside, his average per catch and everything would have gone up. The fact that he was so important to us, and he was a big receiver, we used him in a blocking role in there. He was unselfish, he sacrificed for the team, and obviously he did a lot for us. Obviously, all three of those guys [Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders] were fantastic for us, they all played huge roles. But I’m just thrilled that Art, after this long wait, finally got in. With his numbers and everything that he had, and particularly what he did for us . . . he was deserving.”

Monk was the first player with more than 900 career receptions, finishing his career as the NFL’s all-time leader with 940. Jerry Rice broke Monk’s reception mark during the 1995 season.

Monk, Washington’s first-round selection in the 1980 draft, also had 12,721 career receiving yards and 68 touchdown catches. He was a three-time all-pro selection (1984, ’85, ’86) and was voted to the 1980s all-decade team.

“And the numbers might have been a lot different if we were a passing team,” said Mann, Monk’s business partner in Alliant Merchant Services, an electronic payment services company. “We were also a running team. We had the threat to go deep, but Joe always had the threat to go deep so that we could run the ball. You can’t be a physical team if you’re only throwing the ball down the field.

Gibbs “always had the threat of throwing so he could always run you into submission. That was the offense that we ran. Art was subjected to that. But you know what? Art was Mr. Third Down. If you needed a third down and six or seven yards, he was the guy. He didn’t get the long bombs all the time. He got the for-sure catch to keep a drive alive.”

For Monk, being elected to the Hall of Fame with Green “just makes it even more special to know that Darrell’s in there with me. We had a lot of special times out there on the field. Even more importantly to myself and to him, was our relationship off the field.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together working within this community serving the underserved. We fellowship together at the same church. Our families are very close. Our children call each other aunts and uncles. It’s just really special to know not only that we’re in, but we’re going in together.”

Green, Monk, Thomas elected to Hall of Fame
The Washington Times
February 3, 2008
David Elfin

PHOENIX — Darrell Green said it best after he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday in his first year of eligibility, along with longtime Washington Redskins teammate Art Monk and former Redskins assistant coach Emmitt Thomas.

“It’s a Redskin day, baby,” Green exulted here after the selections were announced. “Everyone said, ‘You’re a shoo-in,’ but I never embraced that. And that’s how I think I was able to play at a high level for so long.

“Before they ever paid me $120,000 my rookie year, I was already overpaid. My whole career I was overpaid, overrespected and overcared for.”

Green, 48, set franchise records with 20 seasons and 54 interceptions when he was selected for seven Pro Bowls, the last one when he was 37 years old.

He had his signature moments when he ran down Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett from behind in his 1983 debut on “Monday Night Football” and when he returned a punt for a touchdown with pulled rib muscles to upset the Bears in frigid Chicago in a 1987 playoff game.

Monk, 50, played the first 14 of his 16 seasons in Washington.

Although Charlie Brown, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders at times made more plays downfield, Monk once held the NFL records for career catches, catches in a season and consecutive games with a catch.

In the 1984 finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monk set a season record by catching 11 passes, including a 20-yarder on a fourth-and-18 that helped give the Redskins a 29-27 playoff-clinching victory.

“We asked Art to block and run inside routes that took away some of his average per catch,” said former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who praised the character of Green and Monk. “Art was always unselfish, whatever it took to be a great teammate.”

Monk was Washington’s first pick in the 1980 draft, as Green was three years later for the defending champion Redskins.

They were teammates in three more Super Bowls. Thomas, who coached both men, joined them for the latter two title games, both Redskins victories. He was elected as a Seniors Committee candidate.

“I’m so excited we’re going in together,” Green said. “This is just so special. I want to say how much I appreciate the Washington Redskins and [then-General Manager] Bobby Beathard. People said how crazy it was to draft a guy who’s almost not as tall as the podium from Texas A&I.

“I walked on to the junior varsity in 11th grade. I walked on at Texas A&I,” he said. “I started one game that year and went home for a year and a half because of homesickness. I went back and, three years later, I was drafted.

“We went to the Super Bowl my first year,” Green said. “I didn’t do free agency. I was healthy enough to stay there, and the city embraced me. I was played in one city, raised my kids there and served my community for 20 years. I’m a very blessed human.”

Monk, who attends the same church as Green, felt the same way, despite having been denied as a finalist the previous seven years.

Monk credited previous Redskins Hall of Fame receivers Charley Taylor, his position coach for much of his career, and Bobby Mitchell, then the team’s assistant general manager, for helping him reach this point.

“I’m a little short on words right now,” Monk said by telephone. “I wasn’t really expecting this. I’ve always taken the attitude that if it happens, it happens. It would have been nice to get in first year, second, third year. But it’s a great honor. I’m excited about going into the Hall with [Darrell] and, of course, Emmitt.”

Thomas said he didn’t change Green’s fearless style when he became his position coach in 1987.

“Emmitt and [defensive coordinator Richie] Petitbon with Coach Gibbs’ blessing, they created a defense around me being the matchup guy,” Green said of always covering the top opposing receiver.

In one fell swoop, the Redskins of Gibbs’ first era leapt from having just one Hall of Fame player — running back John Riggins, who retired after the 1985 season before the third and fourth Super Bowls — to three, plus Gibbs. Taylor and Thomas were both elected as players.

“That era, I took such great pride in being a part of that,” the recently re-retired Gibbs said in a conference call yesterday. “You hope we’ll go ahead and have others who will be honored.”

Guard Russ Grimm, who played for the Redskins from 1981 to 1991, was a finalist for the fourth straight year. Grimm was eliminated in the initial reduction from 15 to 10 modern-era candidates.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who had criticized the selectors in previous years, was beaming at the announcement yesterday.

“I’ve been upset every year that Art didn’t get recognition,” Snyder said. “I’m thrilled that we’re finally at the point where the recognition is there. All of those disappointments go away pretty quickly with this announcement. It’s spectacular.”

February 2, 2008

Monk Makes the Hall!

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 6:04 pm

Green, Monk Make the Hall
The Associated Press
February 2, 2008
Barry Wilner

PHOENIX (AP) — It was a Hall of Fame day for the Washington Redskins, with Art Monk and Darrell Green elected to the shrine Saturday. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue failed to get in for the second straight year.

Also voted in were New England linebacker Andre Tippett, San Diego/San Francisco defensive end Fred Dean, Minnesota/Denver tackle Gary Zimmerman and senior committee choice, Kansas City cornerback Emmitt Thomas.

In his eighth year of eligibility, Monk finally was chosen. He concluded his career after the 1995 season with Philadelphia, but spent 13 years with the Redskins as one of the NFL’s premier receivers. Monk held records for most consecutive games with a reception (164) and career catches (820). Both have been surpassed, but Monk didn’t play in as wide-open an era on offense as many other receivers. He was one of the most consistent possession and third-down receivers in the league throughout his 14 pro seasons.

Green, one of the NFL’s speediest and most skilled cornerbacks for two decades, spent his entire career (1983-2002) with the Redskins. He holds the record for consecutive seasons with an interception (19), and had 54 picks for 621 yards and six TDs. A member of the 1990s All-Decade team, Green made seven Pro Bowls.

“This is incredible. This is so special,” Green said when informed of the vote.

The other player in his first year of eligibility, receiver Cris Carter, was not elected. Carter finished his 15-year career second on the career list in receptions and TD catches.

Inductions will be at the Pro Football Hall of Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 2.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome was Tagliabue again not getting enough support.

In his 17 years as commissioner, the NFL experienced no labor stoppages, while its revenues from TV contracts skyrocketed. There also were expansions to Jacksonville, Charlotte, Cleveland and Houston under his watch, and several teams moved into new stadiums, many of them built with public funds.

But many, including some reporters on the 44-member selection committee, found Tagliabue unapproachable and uncooperative.

Also failiing to get in were Redskins guard Russ Grimm, Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed, Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy, Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar, Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent, Miami Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas.

Senior committee nominee Marshall Goldberg was not elected, either.

Class of 2008 Announced
Pro Football Hall of Fame
February 2, 2008

Defensive end Fred Dean, cornerback Darrell Green, wide receiver Art Monk, cornerback Emmitt Thomas, linebacker Andre Tippett, and tackle Gary Zimmerman make up the Class of 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees.

The six-man class was elected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee who met today in Phoenix, Arizona. The newest members of the Hall were selected from a list of 17 finalists that had been determined earlier by the committee.

Dean, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was one of the league’s most feared pass rushers during his 11-season career with the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.

Green was known for his great speed during his 20 seasons with the Washington Redskins from 1983-2002. He intercepted a pass in 19 straight seasons and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

Monk accumulated 940 receptions for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns during his 16-season career. His career-high 106 catches in 1984 was a NFL record at the time. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

Thomas, an undrafted free agent, became one of the finest cornerbacks of his era. He ranks fourth all-time in interceptions by a cornerback with 58 picks during his career with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1966-1978.

Tippett starred at linebacker for 11 playing seasons for the New England Patriots and amassed 100 career sacks. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s, he earned five straight Pro Bowl berths.

Zimmerman earned the rare distinction of being named to two NFL All-Decade Teams (1980s and 1990s). A strong and versatile tackle who split his career with Minnesota and Denver, he was elected to seven Pro Bowls.

The 2008 class will increase to 247 the number of all-time greats permanently honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Enshrinement of the Class of 2008 will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, on Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The Enshrinement Ceremony will be televised live by both ESPN and the NFL Network.

Fellow receivers support Monk

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 5:32 pm

Fellow receivers support Monk
Washington Times
February 2, 2008
David Elfin

PHOENIX — Four of the NFL’s all-time great receivers believe Art Monk shouldn’t even be up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame today.

Each of them says the former Washington Redskins star already should have a bust in Canton, Ohio.

“It’s clear cut,” said former Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed, another one of the 17 finalists. “The guy was the standard for NFL receivers for years. He should have been in the Hall five years ago.”

Reed’s endorsement is echoed by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who said his election last year lost a little something when Monk fell short for the seventh time.

“As great as it was for me last year going into the Hall, that held a hole for me,” Irvin said. “I don’t think I necessarily deserved to be in before Art. How is it you can be No. 1 [in all-time catches as Monk was from 1992 to 1995] and not be in the Hall?”

The receiver whom Monk surpassed to be No. 1 — as well as the one who passed him and still ranks first — remain equally mystified by Monk’s omission.

“Art was a great receiver,” Hall of Famer Steve Largent said. “He was a playmaker and a leader on teams that won three Super Bowls. Of course he should be in the Hall of Fame.”

When he retired after the 1995 season, Monk held the records for career catches (940), catches in a season (106) and consecutive games with a catch (164).

Jerry Rice broke each of those records, but he doesn’t see how there’s a question about Monk’s spot in Canton.

“People want to question some of Art’s numbers,” said Rice, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2010. “He was incredibly productive for a very long time. What more do people want? He’s a Hall of Famer.”

Only eight Hall of Famers have more touchdown catches than Monk’s 68, but Reed caught 87 and newly eligible receiver Cris Carter had 130.

Only James Lofton and Largent have more yards among Hall of Famers than Monk’s 12,721, but Reed had 13,198 and Carter had 13,899.

And while Monk’s 940 catches are more than any enshrinee, Reed caught 951 passes and Carter had 1,101. But their careers lasted five and seven seasons longer, respectively, into the era that featured more wide-open offenses.

“You have to look at a player in his time,” said former Redskins linebacker Andre Collins, Monk’s teammate from 1990 to 1993. “Art was the best of the best in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Rice supporters probably would argue that point, and he has the Super Bowl hardware to match and pass Monk. 

But Irvin has an answer for those who question Monk’s lack of “signature moments” or his impact.

“We have a limited picture of what talent is,” Irvin said. “We like to think of talent as how high somebody jumps or how fast he runs. People talk about big plays. Big plays can be the catch for a first down on third-and-9 with the game on the line. People say what was Art’s flagship mark? His mark was the consistency of his play.”

While Monk is, at least indirectly, competing against Reed, Carter and former Redskins teammate Darrell Green, the lone cornerback among the finalists.

That should help Green’s candidacy, as should such memorable plays as chasing down Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett in his 1983 debut and his punt return touchdown to beat the Chicago Bears in a 1987 playoff game.

“Darrell was one of the best,” Rice said. “He was like a little gnat. You couldn’t get away from him.”

Irvin said Green, whom he battled twice a year during his 12-year career, should be a lock after playing a record 20 years at cornerback and making seven Pro Bowls, the last at 37 years old.

“Darrell was the first guy to say, ‘Show me your baddest man, and I’m eliminating him,’ ” Irvin said. “He was the first shutdown corner.”

While Monk’s chances for election are cloudy and Green’s are strong, the outlook is less optimistic for former Redskins guard Russ Grimm, a finalist for a fourth straight year after not advancing that far in his first eight years of eligibility.

Grimm is hindered by the injuries that limited him to 11 seasons, eight as a starter, and by the presence of more decorated offensive linemen Gary Zimmerman and Randall McDaniel on the ballot.

On Groundhog Day, Another Chance to Do Right by Hall

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:06 am

Four Local Football Heroes Vie for Induction Into the Hall of Fame, and There’s a Case for Each
Washington Post
February 1, 2008
Leonard Shapiro

PHOENIX — On Saturday morning, I’ll be heading into my 25th selection meeting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on a day when I’ll also be celebrating a birthday. Here’s hoping three of the finest players in Redskins history, not to mention a former Georgetown basketball star, will mark Groundhog’s Day, 2008, as a memorable date in their own lives.

Art Monk, Darrell Green and Russ Grimm are among 15 modern-era finalsts to be discussed by the selection committee as possible members of the Hall’s Class of 2008. The old Hoya in question, Paul Tagliabue — once a skinny New Jersey kid with very sharp elbows — always will be better remembered as the long-time NFL commissioner, a visionary deep thinker who guided the league to the loftiest of heights as the most powerful sports entity on the planet in the 21st Century.

Green has to be considered the only lock among the four candidates with ties to the Washington area. It’s his first year of eligibility, and the fact that he played 20 years on that lonely island all cornerbacks inhabit should be enough to attract voters to his cause. Of course, he also played the position at an extremely high level, and likely could have been a Devon Hester-like return man if Joe Gibbs would have risked it more often, making his candidacy even more appealing.Grimm will get in some day, but it may not be Saturday, not with four offensive linemen on the ballot, three of them finalists for far longer than Grimm has been. That trio includes Miami’s Bob Keuchenberg, who will move from modern day candidate to the senior category if he’s not voted in on Saturday.

Tagliabue should been elected last year, following his retirement after the 2005 season, no questions asked. You can’t write the history of the league without his name in the first paragraph, right after the first sentence on Pete Rozelle.

While the owners adored him for what he did for their bottom lines, he was a corporate lawyer by training and temperament, far from media friendly. Sadly, judging from the tone of the discussion a year ago, some media members on the selection panel are not going to be particularly friendly toward him again this year.

Shame on voters for making Tagliabue’s candidacy personal and not professional. His absence from the Hall diminishes the institution, as well as the selectors who insist on keeping him out.

Once again, Monk’s supporters — present company included — will point out all the relevant reasons he should have been voted in a long time ago. The statistical evidence is indisputable, from being the league’s all-time leading receiver when he retired, to the consecutive games with a reception, to being a member of four Super Bowl teams, three of which won championships.

More significant was what he meant to the franchise. Gibbs has described him as the heart and soul of so many of those teams, the quiet leader who may not have been chatty with the press corps but talked with his actions. He set an example with his rigorous offseason training regime, unselfish — often lethal — downfield blocking, his refusal to moan about not going deep as often as Gary Clarke or the Smurfs and his occasional brief, but powerful locker room talks to teammates in times of crisis.

In an age when wide receivers are constantly pounding their chests, preening for cameras and performing tiresome “look-at-me” diva routines, Monk was a player who shied from the glare of the spotlight and preferred to do his talking with deeds, not words or choreographed touchdown celebrations.

Monk frequently chose not to be interviewed, not because he was rude or a jerk, but because he felt uncomfortable talking about himself. He was a shy and private, and most reporters on the beat at Redskins Park generally respected his decision to stay far from the newspapers and cameras. Still, it must be said that there were plenty of times when he did sit for an interview if he felt he had something important to say.

You’d like to think that selectors in the room who were rebuffed by his silent treatment when they came to town to write the “Monk” profile stories editors demanded might not hold that against him. Again, shame on them.

Monk has also been the victim of a system that often sees worthy candidates stall because votes are split between players at the same position. We saw it for years with Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, the two Steeler receivers who both eventually got in. Monk has been on the ballot with that pair and other worthy receivers like James Lofton, Michael Irvin, Charlie Joiner and Steve Largent, all of whom were elected before him. He certainly lost votes that went to all of them, though in my mind it should have been the other way around.

This time, he’s on a ballot with first-time eligible Cris Carter, the former Viking receiver who finished his career second on the all-time receiving list, and Buffalo’s Andre Reed. Carter never played in a Super Bowl, and at times was a pill, despite his sunshine and roses demeanor in front of the HBO cameras. In my opinion, he is NOT a first ballot guy, and it would be a travesty if he or Reed, another man without a Super Bowl championship, get in ahead of Monk.

In recent years, some selectors opposed to Monk’s candidacy have at least been willing to pay more attention to his credentials. Several voters who said no in years past have told me this week they’ve been won over by arguments they’ve heard in the selection room and by research sent to them by enthusiastic Monk supporters far and wide.

So maybe this will be the year for Monk. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to see him smiling on that Canton stage in July, posing with fellow Redskin and long-time teammate Darrell Green for the photographers. Of course, Chatty Kathy Darrell probably would dominate the press conferences, but surely that would be just fine with Art Monk.

February 1, 2008

Monk’s HOF omission a mystery

Filed under: News — DjTj @ 3:41 pm

Monk’s HOF omission a mystery
Yahoo! Sports
February 1, 2008
Jason Cole

PHOENIX … Bill Belichick essentially asked the question five times in the span of 10 minutes: What is the measure of a Hall of Famer?

What are the criteria?

What’s the definition?

By most measures he would consider, Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk should be one.

“What (Monk) did, he was really, really good at,” said the New England Patriots coach, who measures his praise as closely as a cartographer. More telling is that Belichick, a man who has great appreciation for the history of the game, took so much time to talk about Monk several weeks ago as his team was getting ready for the first round of the playoffs against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“He has the numbers, the stats and he won … That was a very good offense he played on, an offense that transcended a lot of changes at quarterback. Yes, he had his role and he played it very well. So you have to ask, ‘What’s the criteria?’ ” Belichick said.

Of course, that’s one of the most difficult questions the 44 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame face. The group will gather Saturday morning to go over the 17 candidates for this year. The list eventually will be whittled to between four and seven elected for induction in August. The meeting lasts hours (not including the inevitable discussion beforehand) and often is heated.

But the debates have become pretty formulaic. Should there be more pass rushers inducted? Are defensive players in general overlooked, particularly with the recent explosion in offensive numbers since the 1980s?

Then there’s the ever-popular, inexact talking point: Was this player truly great?

Where Monk, a finalist for eight years, falls this year in the discussion should be very interesting. Last year, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin made the Hall of Fame despite the fact that some voters said they wouldn’t vote for him until Monk was elected.

Now, Monk has fellow wide receiver Cris Carter, who caught 1,101 passes in his career and scored 130 touchdowns (Monk had 68) also eligible. Carter also remains front and center in the football world because of he’s an analyst with HBO and Yahoo! Sports. Beyond Carter, there are Washington teammates Darrell Green, a superlative cornerback, and Russ Grimm, an anchor of the team’s famous offensive line.

The other candidates this year are: Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, wide receiver Andre Reed, guards Bob Kuechenberg and Randall McDaniel, offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman, punter Ray Guy, linebackers Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett and Randy Gradishar, defensive ends Fred Dean and Richard Dent, running back Marshall Goldberg and cornerback Emmitt Thomas.

What Monk decidedly lacks is sex appeal as a player. There are no dramatic Super Bowl performances, such as those turned in by current Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. There isn’t the blazing speed of James Lofton or the overwhelming stats (at least for their eras) of Steve Largent and Charlie Joiner. Monk was a Pro Bowler only three times in his 16-year career.

By any other measure, Monk is pretty much the equal of all of them. He finished his career as the leading receiver of all time with 940 catches, although he was quickly passed by Jerry Rice. He was the first receiver to ever catch 100 passes in a season, laying the groundwork for so many other receivers to do the same.

In the playoffs, Monk’s numbers are almost identical to Largent, Joiner, Swann, Stallworth and Lofton. In fact, he averaged more catches per game in the playoffs than all of them and more yards per game than all but one. Finally, he has more Super Bowl rings than Lofton, Largent and Joiner combined, and as many Super Bowl appearances as both Swann and Stallworth (Monk was with the Redskins for Super Bowl XVII but missed the game because of injury).

And isn’t that really the point of why the game is played?

“I don’t really understand the process, but I played against the man twice a year for a long time and he was big and tough and strong,” said Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Dennis Thurman, who faced Monk for seven years in the NFL. “You had to account for Art Monk. He has the numbers, he has the championships. He was consistent for a long time. To me, that’s a Hall of Famer.”

Said Jacksonville assistant head coach Mike Tice, who coached Carter and played against Monk: “Cris Carter is a great friend of mine. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and he’s going to get there someday. But Art Monk has been passed over for too long.”

Monk was also a prototype teammate, a guy who quietly did his job, demanding little or no fanfare. He led by deed rather than word.

“When I got there, Art had already been in the league for five or six years,” said former Redskins running back Earnest Byner, now a coach with the team. “But here he was in meetings, taking notes like he was still a first-year guy. He was just a great leader.”

Said quarterback Doug Williams: “I think I saw Art say something maybe twice in a game and that was when he got mad at the other team. He never complained on the sideline or called for the ball in the huddle. Never came back and said, ‘Man, I was open.’ He just did his job and he did it great.”

Williams makes another great point in relation to Monk. His accomplishments were achieved with a steady rotation of quarterbacks (Williams, Joe Theismann, Mark Rypien and Jay Schroeder were the primary passers during Monk’s career).

“Jerry Rice was great, but he had either Joe Montana or Steve Young almost all his career. He was always working with the same guys. Art was the same productive player no matter what,” Williams said.

That degree of difficulty hasn’t always meant much to some of the voters. Long-time Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman has said of Monk’s career on many an occasion that “catching 800 eight-yard hooks just doesn’t do it for me.” Zimmerman’s opinion was that only classic deep-threat receivers deserved Hall consideration.

Then again, Zimmerman admitted last summer that his view may be changing. Proof of that came earlier this month when Zimmerman named his 2007 All-Pro team. The three receivers he named were Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker. While Moss and Wayne are class big-play receivers, Welker is the definition of a possession receiver, as he caught 112 passes for 1,175 yards – a scant 10.5 yards per catch.

Of course, what Welker did was plenty good enough for Belichick and the Patriots.

Just like it was for Monk and the Redskins.

Monk’s time for Hall of Fame has come
February 1, 2008
Mike Celizic

Washington wide receiver’s omission defies every rule of logic.

PHOENIX – Can we put Art Monk in the Hall of Fame already? Please? And while you’re at it, oh high and exalted committee of electors, how about putting Darrell Green in with him when you make your selections Saturday? They were the key parts of a dynasty, the best of their era. They belong.

Green should be a no-brainer, but given the Byzantine machinations of the selection committee, there’s no such thing as a shoe-in with the Hall. In that, it’s similar to baseball’s Hall of Fame, whose would-be members are held hostage by the whims of more than 500 baseball writers.

* * *

Monk retired with the NFL’s all-time record for receptions. He’s since dropped to sixth place on the list, which is headed by Jerry Rice, but all Monk could do was break the record that existed in his day. To keep him out because subsequent receivers were better is like saying Babe Ruth doesn’t belong in baseball Hal of Fame because Hank Aaron broke his record for home runs.

Monk won three Super Bowls on those Joe Gibbs dynasty teams. Gibbs remains the only coach to win three championships with three different quarterbacks. But all of them had the same primary target — the redoubtable Mr. Monk.

The receiver was also named to the NFL All-1980s team. If a player is recognized as the best at his position for an entire decade, it’s impossible to say he’s not Hall of Fame material. That’s what the Hall is about: enshrining the best of every era. To say the best receiver of an entire decade is not also an all-time great is incomprehensible.

* * *

Those Redskin teams won three Super Bowls and gave us the most famous offensive line in NFL history — the Hogs. (The most famous offensive line is kind of like being the most popular dental procedure, but it’s something.) And yet only one player from those teams is in the Hall – John Riggins, the Mohawk-coifed running back whose most memorable accomplishment took place not on the football field but at a White House dinner, where, after imbibing one — or seven — too many libations, Riggins told Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to “lighten up, Sandy baby.”

The team’s coach, Joe Gibbs is also in the Hall. But no one else.

That’s just wrong. A team wins three Super Bowls, it has some great players on it. And none were greater than Green, who retired with 54 interceptions and is on the NFL All-1990s team, and Monk.

Russ Grimm, one of the Hogs, is also up for selection this year, but it would be asking too much to have all three ‘Skins go in together. It’s possible that the voters will decide to overlook Green, too, if only because it’s his first year of eligibility. It would be hard to imagine, but stranger things have happened.

Most important is that Art Monk, who retired as the most prolific receiver ever, take his place in the shrine where he belongs. He’s waited eight years, which is eight too many. Elect him, folks. Now.

Uncertainty surrounds 2008 Hall of Fame selections

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 2:45 am

Hall of a debate: Uncertainty surrounds 2008 Hall of Fame selections
January 31, 2008
Peter King

PHOENIX — Trying to predict the Pro Football Hall of Fame class is always difficult, but I don’t recall a more difficult year in my decade and a half as one of the selectors. The reason: there are no gimmes in this group and there are varying degrees of support for many of the 17 candidates.

Voting for the Hall is Saturday in downtown Phoenix. The 17 candidates consist of 15 modern era and two Seniors Committee nominees. The announcement of the new class — a minimum of four and maximum of seven — should come late Saturday afternoon.

Last year I did a tote board with odds on who I liked and why. I’m not going to be that stupid this year because one of last year’s fair-headed men, Paul Tagliabue, didn’t come close to being elected. Here’s how I forecast his group.

Newcomers Darrell Green and Cris Carter — particularly Green, the two-decade Redskins standout — enter the room with the best chances of getting through. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The leaders, from my sense of it, are wide receiver Art Monk, tackle Gary Zimmerman, linebacker Andre Tippett, defensive ends Richard Dent and Fred Dean, guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg, and Seniors nominee Emmitt Thomas, a veteran cornerback and longtime assistant coach.

The reason I can’t give you a much better clue is that I think sentiments of the voters are all over the place, judging from my informal talks with them this week. So it’d be dangerous to say any single guy is a favorite, other than Green, most likely.

Talking with Pro Football Hall of Fame vice president Joe Horrigan today I found I had a lot in common with someone who knows the Hall better than anyone. “I’m befuddled,” Horrigan said. “There’s great equality in this class, and it’s really hard to tell which candidates will get in first.”

It’s clear that a guy like Carter, with 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns, is Hall of Fame-caliber, but I just don’t know if the zeal of some voters to get Monk in the Hall after a decade of frustration is going to cause Carter to wait a year or two.

I’ll have more to say about this in a file on Saturday afternoon and again on Monday, in my regular column. But stay tuned, there’s going to be quite a lot of intrigue.

January 31, 2008

Dr. Z: “Just Put Him the F— In Already”

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 10:20 am

Dr. Z on Art Monk’s Hall of Fame Chances: ‘Just Put Him the F— In Already’
AOL Fanhouse
January 30, 2008
Michael David Smith

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Paul Zimmerman, better known as Dr. Z, has a reputation as the old curmudgeon of the football writing business. I met him today, and he lived up to that reputation.

I introduced myself to Zimmerman and told him I’d been reading his work for my entire life. He replied, “That makes me feel old.”

I then asked Zimmerman about the upcoming Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meeting, which is on the day before the Super Bowl. Zimmerman is one of the selectors, and he recently changed his mind about former Redskins receiver Art Monk, saying that after years of being the most vocal opponent of Monk’s enshrinement, he will now vote for Monk. So what changed his mind?

“I figured, just put him the f— in already,” Zimmerman told me. “I’m tired of being the a–hole.”

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