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 5, 2007

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.

March 26, 2007

Hogs Haven Interviews Len Shapiro

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 8:01 pm

Hogs Haven
Sun Mar 25, 2007
Len Shapiro Interview
Skin Patrol

Hogs Haven: Len, thanks again for agreeing to join us. Let’s jump right into questions: First and foremost, how long have you been with the Washington Post and on the Hall of Fame Committee?

Len Shapiro: I’ve been with the Post since 1969, covering the George Allen Redskins from 73 to 79, then again for a few years in each of the next three decades. I’ll be heading to my 25th Hall of Fame meeting next February and have been on the senior committee for about six years.

Hogs Haven: How does one become a Hall of Fame Voter?

Len Shapiro: When the Washington Star folded in 1982, I was asked by the Hall to replace long-time Star football writer Steve Guback as a selector. They ask people who have covered the sport extensively, so I guess I qualified.

HH: Per other voters, Paul Tagliabue demanded nearly an hour of debate and was clearly this year’s most contested potential Inductee (and I am sympathetic towards your arguments in his favor). Can you comment on how long the debate over Monk lasted?

LS: My recollection is about 15 to 20 minutes, which allowed plenty of discussion. Remember, this was the first time Tagliabue was in the final 17, and Monk has been there before.

HH: What was the prevalent argument against Art Monk this year, in your opinion?

LS: 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. I obviously disagree, and I can tell you I believe we’re making progress in getting him elected.

HH: In your recent article at the Post you suggest a concern many Art Monk fans have; namely that Monk’s snubbing was partially the result of his quiet off the field shyness towards the press. If that is the case, should NFL fans be concerned about the integrity of the process?

LS: No, I think that’s just human nature at work. There should be no concerns about the integrity of the process in that regard. I don’t think anyone on the committee would withhold a vote because Monk declined him/her an interview.

HH: An additional concern: Perhaps voters may be forgiven for holding Monk’s shyness against him; it might mean they simply didn’t have the exposure to him to keep his accolades and accomplishments fresh in their minds. However, for some Redskins fans — myself included — it often times seems as though Paul Zimmerman (among others) takes pleasure in antagonizing Redskins fans who are known to send hostile emails. I understand the motivation, and I condemn any fan, Redskin or otherwise, who personally attacks voters. But could Zimmerman or others be holding Art Monk’s inurbane fans against him during the voting process? John McClane recently made that fear explicit: “Has it occurred to you that all those nasty e-mails insulting the intelligence of the committee just might make some of the pro-Monk crowd switch their votes? I’m not saying it will, but have you thought that you might actually be doing Monk damage?” Do you get a sense that this is influencing votes?

LS: Again, any voter who allows himself to be influenced by fan insults ought to get off the committee. I can tell you I get bombarded all the time by supporters of players not in the Hall, including vicious letters–you ignorant slut, that sort of thing–as well as well orchestrated mail and e-mail campaigns. They’re a pain in the neck to deal with, but it It goes with the territory and has no influence whatsoever on how I vote.

HH: Chris Carter comes up for induction next year, and then he is followed by a series of receivers who, in a different era, accumulated better stats than Art Monk. Peter King made this point and it concerns me: Will 2006 be recognized at Art Monk’s last, best chance at induction? Can you comfort Redskins fans like myself who are worried that it won’t ever happen?

LS: It will not be Monk’s last best chance. I will argue next year that Chris Carter absolutely has to wait his turn. Next year is Monk’s turn. By the way, how many super bowl teams did Carter play on, another reason I believe he is not a slam dunk next season.

HH: You recently called for character in your Post piece, a sentiment repeated by Jerry Magee and perhaps others. As Art Monk had an outstanding character as well as an outstanding career, I view a change towards considering character as a move in the right direction towards inducting Monk. With voters beginning to acknowledge that importance of off field conduct, is it a matter of if-or-when such considerations are taken into account?

LS: That’s a matter the Hall of Fame Board of Directors must decide. At the moment, we are not suppoosed to consider off-field transgressions, or good deeds, for that matter. I believe character should be an issue and some of us have let the board know that. It’s their decision and at the moment, I don’t think they’re inclined to change.

HH: With Art Monk not in, and enough questions reasonably raised about the integrity of the process, many Redskins fans have reached the conclusion that the Hall of Fame Voting process is broken. Many solutions have been suggested, the most intriguing to me that of inviting a few current Inductees to participate in the voting process. Is this something you or (to the extend you’d know) other voters would be open to? Would it even help anything, in your opinion?

LS: It would not help the process. On the senior committee, we have two old-timers in the room as consultants and quite frankly, they’re only of modest help. Many times they didn’t play in the same era, many times they show bias toward old teammates or coaches. I think our process is a good one, and I think it’s going to get better with the addition in the next few years of more voters and perhaps separating contributors from players, so more players and contributors can get in.

HH: Do you think the Hall of Fame voting will ever be transparent? Should it be?

LS: Transparent in the sense that tv cameras will be allowed in the room? No. I believe the best part of the process is a selection meeting when everyone in the room can voice their strong opinion, pro or con on a player, and not have to worry that his views will later be held against him. For example, if the Green Bay selector admitted–and I repeat, this is just an example–that he didn’t think Jerry Kramer was the best guard on his team and probably didn’t deserve to get inducted, he’d be tarred and feathered when he got home and subject to intense criticism from fans, players and coaches past and present and the entire organization. I am in favor of an open ballot when we get down to the final six. That is, if you vote against Art Monk in the final analysis, man up and go public with it.

HH: Finally Len, I understand that you cannot name names as that would violate the privacy of other voters. But my question is: Can you name names?

LS: I understand there is great frustration among Redskins fans that Monk and players like Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby, also worthy candidates, are not yet in. I would say this. Many players have taken many years to finally get in. Sam Huff, Lynn Swann, Harry Carson, Roger Wehrli. I believe those three and Darrell Green (next year he’s eligible for the first time) will eventually be in the Hall of Fame. I’m hoping for a Green/Monk twin double next year, and rest assured, both men have plenty of support in the room and it’s just a matter of time.

HH: Len, thank you so much for stopping by Hogs Haven as you are always welcome back. I truly appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions and I wish you the best in the future — especially in endeavoring to get a great man inducted to the Hall of Fame. HTTR.

February 19, 2007

Some Hall of Fame voter thoughts

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 7:26 pm

Yahoo! Sports
February 2, 2007
Sniff, Sniff
Jason Cole

MIAMI – In a game that honors an incredibly small percentage of players as Pro Football Hall of Famers, the process of electing them is a brutally inexact science.

Or as long-time voter Len Pasquarelli of suggested: It really comes down to a “smell test.”

“There’s no one way to measure a player’s achievement,” said Pasquarelli, who will be among 40 selectors who gather Saturday morning to discuss the 17 finalists for this year’s Hall of Fame induction. “It’s not just about honors or Pro Bowls or Super Bowls or stats … At the end of the day it really comes down to a gut reaction. Does this guy smell like a Hall of Fame player?”

Pasquarelli’s sentiment was shared in some way by every Hall selector that Yahoo! Sports spoke with this week. Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer understands the difficulty better than most. Grossi votes in both the football and baseball processes.

“Baseball is pretty straight-forward because you have a lot of statistics that can show how good a player was over his career,” Grossi said. “You get the ballot and go over it and that’s it. Football is much more involved. There are some stats that are really overrated. There are some that help you.”

Then there are some positions that don’t have any relevant stats, such as for offensive linemen.

“How do you tell who was a better guard?” Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News said.

Making the process more difficult is the similarity of some players. Among this year’s finalists are three interior offensive linemen: Bob Kuechenberg, Russ Grimm and Bruce Matthews. There are four defenders who were great pass rushers: Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett. Finally, there are three wide receivers who were constants on Super Bowl teams: Michael Irvin, Art Monk and Andre Reed.

Irvin and Monk have been at the center of an intriguing debate over the past two years. Both players helped their teams to three Super Bowl titles and Monk helped the Redskins to a fourth appearance. Both were All-Pro once in their careers. Both had long careers, Irvin playing 12 years and Monk 16.

But in terms of style, Irvin has long been considered the better player. He was clearly Dallas’ go-to receiver, leading the team in receptions for eight consecutive seasons.

Monk, who finished his career as the second-leading receiver in NFL history with 940 catches and was named to the All-Decade team for the 1980s, was more a complementary player. He led the Redskins in receptions in six of his 14 seasons in Washington. He was considered the possession receiver when compared to the likes of Gary Clark or Ricky Sanders.

At the same time, Monk was part of a consistently great team which right now has only two people in the Hall of Fame (coach Joe Gibbs and running back John Riggins). By comparison, the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers have 10 in the Hall.

“It’s really hard, especially with the receivers, because the numbers have gotten so out of control,” Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. “In the ’70s, the offenses were so different. All anybody really did was throw the ball deep. The receptions, the completions, the interception numbers were all so different than today.”

Said Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News: “The standard I use to judge is: Was a given player an impact player of his era? There can be a lot of ways that you judge someone, but no one standard works.”

In addition, the weight of each selector’s vote is much heavier than in baseball. There are only 40 selectors in football – one for every NFL city and eight others who vote because of their status in the Pro Football Writers of America or on an at-large basis. By contrast, there are more than 500 voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“There’s a lot more campaigning that goes on between voters, and I hate that,” Grossi said. “It’s like you run into somebody at the hotel when you check-in and the first thing they say is, ‘where do you stand?’ … To me, that’s why the Saturday morning meeting is so important. I want to hear what people have to say.”

This year, for instance, Monk’s supporters put together a DVD detailing the highlights of his career. In recent years, supporters have done similar things for other candidates.

That part of the process can be fraught with personality issues, as well. Selectors also present candidates, making the presenter’s personality an issue at times. Several people said that Bouchette’s likeable personality has helped some Steelers players.

All of it adds up to a process that is unquestionably difficult. It’s like sorting roses by fragrance.

“When you get to this level in the process, nobody stinks,” Gaughan said.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Bernie’s Pressbox
February 7, 2007
Re: BM: How Did Gary Zimmerman not make the HOF?
Bernie Miklasz

Well, I voted for both Irvin and Monk… it’s not as if voters had to choose between the two. Both are worthy and every year I speak up for Monk in the meeting.


Detroit News
February 11, 2007
Retiring football Hall of Fame selector gets the last laugh
Jerry Green

Some of the Lions’ brass wept in joy for Charlie. I felt triumph in my final shot. And next year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will have a rookie selector representing Detroit, my colleague Mike O’Hara, another exceptionally sharp football writer.

Washington Post
Thursday, February 15, 2007
To Deny Monk, Tagliabue Is a Travesty
Leonard Shapiro

Art Monk deserved better.

And so did Paul Tagliabue.

It’s been almost two weeks since the all-time leading receiver in Washington Redskins history and arguably the greatest sports commissioner of his generation were not voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the annual selection meeting in Miami Beach the day before Super Bowl XLI.

And I still don’t get it. After 24 years on the selection committee, I honestly believed 2007 was going to be Monk’s year, if only because he had waited so long and the number of can’t-miss first time eligible players seemed rather thin.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been responsible for presenting Monk to the board of selectors until this year, when my status — after retiring from The Post in October after 37 years — was changed on the board to an at-large representative. David Elfin of The Washington Times was added to the board as the Washington representative and he made an excellent case on Monk’s behalf. And of course I followed up with more supporting evidence to advance his candidacy.

Monk had been among the final 15 every year since he became eligible seven years ago, and at least this year he made it through the first cut from 17 (counting two senior candidates) to the final ten (actually 11, because there was a tie).

Then, one more time, the unthinkable occurred. Monk couldn’t make it to the last six on a day when Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, in only his third year of eligibility, was among the exalted half-dozen. At that point in the process, the 40 selectors are asked to vote yes or no, and any candidate with 81 per cent of the yes votes gets his ticket punched to Canton.

I’ve always voted yes for any man who gets to the final six, unless I happen to know for a fact that he was an ax-murderer, or worse. And yes, once Irvin got that far, he did get my yes vote, even if I also believe it was a travesty of the highest order that he now will go into the Hall ahead of Monk, for a wide variety of reasons.

I’ve seen too many worthy players make it to the last six, and then get blackballed by what we like to call “silent assassins” in the final yes-no tally. It happened a few years back to Miami offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg, and the poor guy has never gotten that far again, and may not considering the number of offensive lineman–five finalists this year, and more coming–who likely will shove him to the back of the line, including Russ Grimm.

It happened twice to Giants linebacker Harry Carson, who was so frustrated by the seemingly cruel and unusual process that he took the very unusual step of asking not to be considered for induction by the selectors.

Fortunately, we ignored him and eventually voted a very worthy Carson in to the Class of 2006.

But back to Irvin over Monk. Yes, the Dallas “Playmaker” had more touchdown catches than Monk and some very big postseason games, including three Super Bowl victories. Good for him. He’s a Hall of Fame player, but I honestly thought my fellow selectors would take a “wait-your-turn” approach, and put Monk in this year and Irvin next.

Monk’s numbers across the board were more than comparable, including a stunning statistic that two-thirds of Monk’s 888 catches in Washington went for first downs, an incredibly high rate of success for a classic possession receiver. Oh, and by the way, when he retired, wasn’t he also the all-time leading receiver in NFL history?

But far more important in my mind was the character issue. Unlike baseball, that’s not supposed to be part of the equation in the pro football by-laws. But perhaps it should be. Irvin was a loud-mouth, look-at-me, point-that-camera-in-my-direction precursor to many of the preening prima donna wide receivers now prancing across our screens every Sunday.

More significantly, he also was guilty of some despicable behavior off the field, as well, getting involved in a series of highly publicized incidents involving cocaine, hookers, marital infidelity and general flaunting of the law.

Of course, none of those transgressions prevented him from landing a plum job as an analyst on ESPN, where he’s also said some pretty dumb things. And in the weeks before the Hall of Fame meeting, both he and several of his colleagues unabashedly lobbied for his selection. Shame on him, and them, but that’s show biz.

Monk was the anti-Irvin, on and off the field. He went about his business as a true professional, a player who never once went to Joe Gibbs and asked his coach to get him the ball more often. He was a consummate athlete who took great pride in his downfield blocking, a quiet, soft-spoken presence in the locker room who preferred not to speak much to the media if only because he felt uncomfortable in the spotlight. No arrests, no perp walks, no drug busts, not even a whiff of scandal or wrong-doing at any time during or after his brilliant career.

His only semi-flaw? Perhaps some writers on the 40-man committee may still remember Monk’s reluctance to wave his own flag back when he was playing, more than occasionally rejecting interview requests from his own local beat writers as well as out-of-towners when he was very much in his prime and a key part of the Redskins story. You’d like to think that wouldn’t matter much in the selection process, but quite frankly, human nature occasionally takes over, and perhaps that’s cost him a few votes.

The good news is that at least he’s getting closer. The glut of receivers who have been in Monk’s path in recent years — Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, James Lofton and now Irvin — have all been elected to the Hall. Next year, first-time eligible Chris Carter of the Vikings will be the main competition, but it would be another travesty if Carter made it on the first ballot, or any ballot before Monk finally gets his due.

You’d like to think that Monk’s three Super Bowl rings, compared to none for Carter, who never played in that game, will be a telling factor in finally getting Monk to Canton. I’m still convinced that it’s going to happen for Monk, and sooner rather than later.

Sadly, Tagliabue may have to wait a while longer. This year, he didn’t even advance from the final 17 to the last 10 in his first year on the final ballot, eliminated in the first round of voting.

As selectors, we often ask the question, “can you write the history of the National Football League without him?” Of course you can’t write any history of the NFL without having Tagliabue in the first paragraph. Over his 18-year tenure since taking over from Pete Rozelle, an already prosperous league moved into another galaxy in terms of its growth and worldwide popularity.

At the moment, television contracts Tagliabue negotiated are estimated to be worth $25.2 billion. League attendance is nearly at 100 percent. Super Bowl XLI attracted the second largest audience in history, with ads selling for a record $2.6 million for a 30-second spot. And the vast majority of games remain televised, free of charge to the public.

The league never had a work stoppage on Tagliabue’s watch. The NFL has the toughest drug testing program in all of sports, and continues to fund and monitor research to keep up with the latest science of cheating.

Tagliabue presided over the wildly successful expansion to 32 teams, oversaw the building or total renovation of more than 20 league stadiums and played a huge role in increasing the value of each franchise in the league, some now reportedly worth over $1 billion each.

With the exception of Los Angeles, every city that saw its NFL franchise leave town for a more lucrative market — St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, Houston — eventually got another team back, and four of them are now playing in magnificent new stadiums. To his everlasting credit, Tagliabue also strong-armed the impetuously irresponsible owner of the New Orleans franchise, Tom Benson, from moving the franchise after Hurricane Katrina.

And by the way, did you notice there were seven African American head coaches on the sidelines this season, two of them taking their teams to the Super Bowl two weeks ago? When Tagliabue took over, there were none, and his prodding of the owners to adapt the so-called Rooney Rule four years ago to make certain at least one minority candidate be interviewed for every head coaching vacancy has obviously paid huge dividends, on the field and in front offices around the league.

So how could my fellow selectors not vote him in on his first appearance on the final ballot?

Without specifically revealing who said what, let’s just say I didn’t hear a single reason that made any sense at all. There was some talk that he wasn’t pro-active enough in getting new stadiums built for San Francisco, San Diego or Oakland, that he didn’t push hard enough to make a deal to bring pro football back to Los Angeles. Some said the extension in the collective bargaining agreement Tagliabue brokered before he left office has a chance of blowing up in two years because too many owners are unhappy with the agreement.

Mostly though, there was an ugly whiff of vindictiveness in the room.

Unlike Rozelle, a gregarious PR man with a perpetual tan, Tagliabue was a buttoned-down by-the-book lawyer with a backroom pallor. He was stiff standing on a podium, occasionally condescending and evasive in news conference settings.

Over his reign, media access to players and coaches on many teams — including closed practices, no interviews allowed with assistant coaches, not enough time in locker rooms after practice — also was reduced considerably. Tagliabue, some have said, could have stopped it, but never really tried very hard to intervene.

Still, if that’s the reason any selector — 40 media men and women from around the country — voted no, shame on them. This was not about us, and never should be. It was about the big picture and outside-the-box thinking from a visionary CEO who took his league to unparalleled heights, and kept it there year after year as by far the most popular team sport in the country.

Art Monk and Paul Tagliabue both deserved far better, and in 2008, the misguided naysayers in the room need to look in the mirror, come to their senses and do the right thing. They didn’t embarrass Monk and Tagliabue on Feb. 3; they embarrassed themselves.

February 5, 2007

Behind the Scenes at the Hall of Fame Vote

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 5:28 pm

Sports Illustrated
February 5, 2007
Monday Morning Quarterback
Peter King

“A good man and legitimate Hall of Famer is being denied entry for reasons we never know, by people who secretly vote. Art Monk is a Hall of Famer by any measure. This is not right.”
— Washington owner Dan Snyder.

Dan, not a bad point. As one of the 40 Hall selectors, I’d love to see Hall voting be opened up so we would be accountable in such an important election for how we stand. But what happened to Monk, in my opinion, is mostly bad. Good for Monk: The major roadblock in front of him, Michael Irvin, is no longer a roadblock; he’s in. Bad for Monk: Next year comes Cris Carter, with 161 more catches, five more Pro Bowls and 62 more touchdowns in the same number of seasons. Then Tim Brown, with 154 more catches, and the stat race is on. Every year, Monk will fall farther behind in the numbers game. As someone who changed his mind on Monk and strongly advocated him this year (unquestioned leader on a three-time Super Bowl champ, superb downfield blocker, retired as the all-time receptions leader, never squawked for the ball with some other me guys in the locker room), I think it’s going to be tough to get him in if he hasn’t gotten in by now.

Houston Chronicle Blog
February 5, 2007
Behind the Scenes at Hall of Fame Voting
John McClain

Once we arrive at the Super Bowl on the Sunday before our vote, we’re asked every day about what we think and who we’re voting for. I’ve known since I saw the list of finalists that I was going to vote for Matthews, Irvin and Thurman Thomas. Since I’m on the senior committee, I was going to vote for Hickerson and Sanders, too. I was going to keep an open mind on everyone else. After I got to Miami, I knew I was going to vote for Tagliabue, too. I also was leaning toward Zimmerman.

As always, some great cases were made for the finalists, some more informative and convincing than others. After our first vote, I always feel bad for the candidates who are eliminated and their presenters, especially those who have worked hard on their behalf. Selfishly, of course, I’m always glad it was their guy and not mine.

I had worried that Irvin and Monk would cancel each other out, which didn’t happen this year. It did happen to the four dominant pass rushers who made the group of 11: Dent, Dean, Derrick Thomas and Tippett. I had voted for Dent. During a 10-year period (1984 through 1993) he averaged 11.1 sacks for the Bears. They led the NFL in sacks eight times during that period. They had a 102-57 regular-season record. They won Super Bowl XX, and he was voted the MVP. And yet Dent didn’t make the final six.

I have a philosophy about our procedure. I always vote for the senior nominees. And when we get to the final list of six, I always vote yes on each candidate.

I was excited to see Irvin get in. I’ve voted for him each year. No matter what you think about him as a broadcaster or what he did off the field when he played, the only thing we can consider is what happens between the white lines. Irvin was a great receiver and a team leader on a three-time Super Bowl champion.

Rick Gosselin, the NFL writer for the Dallas Morning News, has done a terrific job the last two years, helping three Cowboys be elected. Before last year, the Cowboys had only five of their former players in the Hall of Fame. On Saturday, he had help from Charean Williams and Jarrett Bell of USA Today, both of whom spoke on Irvin’s behalf.

I still think that Bob Hayes is the Cowboy who’s most deserving of being elected. He and Jerry Kramer are the only senior nominees we’ve turned down since I’ve been on the committee.

I think now that Irvin has been elected, Monk won’t be far behind.

Memo to irate Art Monk fans:

Has it occurred to you that 30 of the 40 voters could have voted for Monk, and yet you continue to fire off nasty e-mails to everyone? Has it occurred to you that all those nasty e-mails insulting the intelligence of the committee just might make some of the pro-Monk crowd switch their votes? I’m not saying it will, but have you thought that you might actually be doing Monk damage? Didn’t think so.

Now, here’s something I’d like for Monk fans to explain to me: During his 16-year career, the players and coaches voted him to the Pro Bowl three times. Why? During his 16-year career, he led his team in receiving fewer than five times. Why? During the prime of Monk’s career, why did Gary Clark have more catches, touchdowns and a better average per catch than Monk?

Anyway, those are three questions some on the committee would like to have answered. I’ll await your answers, and if they actually make sense, I’ll be happy to take them to the committee next year.

By the way, I believe that now that Michael Irvin has been elected that Monk will be close behind. But that’s just my opinion. I also believe Darrell Green deserves to be elected, and he’s eligible for the first time next year.

February 4, 2007

Insights into the Voting Room

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 4:50 pm

Sports Illustrated
February 3, 2007
Lengthy Discussion and Debate on Class of 2007
Len Pasquarelli

But the former commissioner wasn’t the only candidate whose Hall credentials were closely examined. The first round of discussion, in which all 17 candidates are presented, ran more than five hours before the selectors got around to the first “reduction” ballot, narrowing the field to 11. There were the usual procedural issues, the annual ill-advised suggestion that selectors rubber-stamp all of the finalists for induction when the field is reduced to six on the second ballot, plenty of comparative statistics, and subjective assessments of the candidates.

In a week in which the league has celebrated the presence of two African-American coaches in Super Bowl XLI, it would be remiss not to point out that Saturday’s selection meeting was chaired by Steve Perry, a black man. And that, for the first time, the selection committee included two women, veteran scribes Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Nancy Gay.

Congratulations to all of them.

And congratulations, too, to the six new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and to the 11 other men who were considered for induction. Know this: Your fates Saturday were discussed with great care and diligence by a committee that collectively takes it charge very seriously.

And Saturday, that meant nearly seven serious hours of serious deliberation.

February 3, 2007
Hall of Fame Q&A with Dr. Z
Paul Zimmerman Why didn’t Art Monk get elected?

Dr. Z: My feeling is that Monk was a great player. But when you played the Redskins, he was not the guy you had to stop. He was a very functional player. A great team guy. But I liked two wideouts better this year. Irvin and Andre Reed.

Will the improvement of receivers’ statistics in recent years hurt Monk’s chances of making it in the future?

Oh yeah. I think his best chance might have been when he first came on the ballot, because he was still near the top of the all-time lists then, but he’ falling. What happened to the all the pass-rushers on the final list of 17 nominees?

Dr. Z: They all canceled themselves out. Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett were all great. But how do you distinguish between them? It wasn’t easy. A guy you’re a big backer of, Bob Kuechenberg, was passed over. Do you think he’s going to make it eventually?

Dr. Z: It’s going to be tough. This year there were a lot of offensive linemen. Bruce Matthews, who made it, Russ Grimm, Gary Zimmerman. And then Randall McDaniel is coming soon. It’s going to be tough for offensive linemen.

February 3, 2007

Time to Vote…

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 2:50 pm

You can watch the announcement of the Hall of Fame inductees online at

Will Art make it?  Peter King puts the odds at 2-1:

Sports Illustrated
February 1, 2007
Hall of Fame Handicapping
Peter King

2:1 — Art Monk, Michael Irvin. Monk and Irvin could cancel each other out, though both deserve to make it. There’s going to be some sentiment in the room along the lines of “Geez, could we please get Monk in and end this annual melodrama with him?” Troy Aikman and Jimmy Johnson are really trying to help Irvin’s candidacy with some gentle reminders to voters about how hugely important Irvin was to the Cowboys’ success.

February 2, 2007
Super Bowl Blog
Steve Tasker

Having Art Monk and Michael Irvin on the list of finalists will probably hurt Andre’s chances a little bit. I understand Art Monk is getting a lot of consideration. He’s been on the ballot a few times now. One thing that I guess has held Monk back is he was known as a possession receiver. But the guy had 900 catches himself. That’s a lot of possession.

I think all those guys deserve to get in. I played against all of them and I respected them and I know how difficult it was to play against them. So I think they’re all worthy.

Washington Times
February 3, 2007
Monk, Grimm Waiting Again
David Elfin

MIAMI — Art Monk has been a bridesmaid seven straight years. It’s three years and counting for Russ Grimm after eight years of not even getting to the finals. Today, the longtime former Washington Redskins teammates will again wait to hear if they have finally been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

    Neither receiver Monk — who retired in 1995 with a record 940 catches (888 for the Redskins) — nor guard Grimm — chosen for four straight Pro Bowls from 1983 to 1986 before injuries began to shorten his career — will find the road to enshrinement any easier today. 

    The 40 selectors must choose three to six candidates from among a distinguished field of 17 that includes nine-time All-Pro guard Bruce Matthews and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue — both on the ballot for the first time — and nine repeat finalists: defensive end Richard Dent, punter Ray Guy, guards Gene Hickerson and Bob Kuechenberg, receiver Michael Irvin, linebacker Derrick Thomas, running back Thurman Thomas, cornerback Roger Werhli and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman. Defensive end Fred Dean, receiver Andre Reed, tight end Charlie Sanders (like Hickerson, a Seniors Committee nominee) and linebacker Andre Tippett are all first-time finalists. 

    There had been some thought that the tide has finally turned in Monk’s favor after last year’s election of Harry Carson, a contemporary also with more substance than style and because of the belief that receivers have been under-represented in recent Hall classes. But fellow receivers Irvin and Reed were picked for more Pro Bowls and also have strong statistics. 

   Grimm’s cause is hurt by the presence of Matthews and Zimmerman, a seven-time Pro Bowl choice who was named to the All-Decade teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike Grimm, both of those linemen remained healthy for a decade. 

   While both Monk and Grimm have taken a “que sera, sera” attitude toward the Hall, their former teammates believe their elections are overdue. 

    “I can’t see why it’s taken so long for Art,” said Brian Mitchell, the most prolific return man in NFL history. “I hear, ‘He didn’t have a signature catch.’ Constantly catching first down, first down, first down, that’s signature to me. And unlike most receivers, Art blocked linebackers and defensive ends. He caught the tough passes over the middle. He had a lot of deep catches, too. And when Art left the game, no one had caught more passes. He’s got three [Super Bowl] rings and his stats speak for themselves.” 

    Mark Schlereth, a pretty fair guard himself, said he has never seen a smarter player than Grimm. Tight end Doc Walker said he never saw anyone physically dominate like Grimm. 

    “No one else could overpower [Hall of Fame defensive tackle] Randy White one-on-one,” Walker said. 

    Monk and Grimm — teammates from 1981 to 1991 as the Redskins reached seven postseasons, five NFC Championship games and four Super Bowls — also were leaders in their own ways. 

    “Russ was the ultimate teammate,” said Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, who played with Grimm on the 1990 Redskins. “To me, a Hall of Famer is a guy who always has your back. Russ also played for successful teams who were built around the running game. That, of course, starts with the offensive line. Russ was a great guard who also started at center and could also play tackle. He and the rest of ‘The Hogs’ had to block [Hall of Famer] Reggie White and the rest of the Eagles, [Hall of Famer] Lawrence Taylor and the rest of the Giants and Randy White and the rest of the Cowboys twice every season.” 

    Quarterback Mark Rypien said that while the offensive linemen — nicknamed “The Hogs” — had plenty of great players, Grimm was “the head Hog.” Mitchell said that the quiet Monk showed him a different style of leadership. 

    “A lot of guys think they have to be great talkers to lead, but Art led by example,” Mitchell said. “He was the hardest-working guy in football. I watched Art work his butt off and said, ‘If he’s doing it, I better do it.’ Art was always trying to become better. A lot of guys play pro football, but not a lot of guys are professionals. Art was a professional.” 

    Linebacker Andre Collins said that professionalism also was true of Grimm, even though he was a blue-collar worker compared to Monk, who would arrive at Redskin Park in slacks, dress shoes and maybe a sportcoat while carrying a briefcase. 

    “Russ had a real serious side when he was talking about the game, but when he was in the locker room sharing those old stories, it was worth the price of admission,” Collins said with a smile. 

    Perhaps today will be the day that Monk and/or Grimm finally end up smiling.

December 2, 2006

Rick Snider Thinks Art is In

Filed under: News, Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:48 pm

The Examiner
Dec 2, 2006
Monk should garner overdue Hall pass
Rick Snider

WASHINGTONThe ice jam blocking Art Monk’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame may have finally melted.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King now says he’ll vote for the former Redskins receiver after years of leading the dissent. That may be the difference. King has a powerful say in the small world of 40 voters and gaining his alliance is like Nancy Pelosi supporting George Bush.

Monk is long overdue for enshrinement after retiring as the NFL’s leading receiver with 940 catches. More importantly, he was among six Redskins on all three Super Bowl champions.

That should have been enough. But plenty of politics are played when sportswriters meet the day before the Super Bowl to pick four-to-seven inductees. Someone must champion the player, usually the writer from the team where he was best known. Monk’s delay could have something to do with writers remembering how he wouldn’t talk to them often. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s human nature.

Monk also played alongside Gary Clark, who merits Hall consideration himself. Monk scored 68 touchdowns over 16 seasons and only led the team in receptions six times because he was the greatest role player in football. Monk could have been selfish like today’s divas and demanded the ball more, but he chose to be a piece of the dynasty. Not that he wasn’t dominant, but Monk probably could have gained another 100 catches and 25 touchdowns by lobbying for the ball.

Somehow, King missed how important Monk was to the team. He entrenched himself in the anti-Monk vote for many years until finally being a journalist and investigating Monk’s worth over recent months. On Sunday, King wrote in his blog he would vote for Monk and Dallas receiver Michael Irvin during the Feb. 3 vote.

King’s support will garner enough votes. Unlike many Hall of Fame ballots that can include more than 100 voters, football’s close-knit electorate can be swayed. There are 40 voters — one for each NFL city, at-large voters and the president of the Pro Football Writers of America. Washington has three voters with local ties — David Elfin of The Washington Times as the Washington balloter and Jarrett Bell of USA Today and Len Shapiro of The Washington Post as at-large voters.

This year’s balloting has no locks. Terrell Davis and Bruce Matthews are front-runners. Retired NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue should be included. Monk and Irvin (750 catches) along with Andre Reed (951 catches) may compete for two openings for receivers.

And if I could lobby, it would be for former Redskins guard Russ Grimm. The Hog was on the NFL’s 1980s team and won three rings with Washington. When Joe Gibbs retires, grabbing Grimm from his offensive coordinator role in Pittsburgh to become the next Redskins head coach would be smart.

The only other Redskin who will garner serious consideration is cornerback Darrell Green, who becomes eligible in 2008. But don’t expect him to make it on the first ballot.

Meanwhile, get ready for another trip to Canton next summer. Monk appears finally ready to join the immortals. It’s about time.

Sports Illustrated
November 28, 2006
An open book: Hall of Fame debates never open-and-shut cases
Peter King

BREAK THE LOGJAM. Frank Murtaugh of Memphis: “Terrific stance on the receiver conundrum in the Hall voting. And yes, this is the year to clear the logjam (before the eligibility of Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Tim Brown further muddy the waters). You’ve got a healthy idea: expanding the panel to 50 voters. The club of 39 right now is way too exclusive. It’s too easy to blackball a player when only seven votes are needed. And I’m in line with your stance on this year’s vote: Monk and Irvin are Hall of Famers. They stand above the crowd of other great pass-catchers for having won THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS, and having played integral roles on all three. The last variable for consideration by any and all Hall voters should be winning championships. Reed was close, but was he merely this era’s Ahmad Rashad?”

I think Reed was better for longer than Rashad. I’m just not sold that four players and a coach from that Bills regime should be in the Hall. My order of Bills to get in if they all could be accommodated would be Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Steve Tasker, Andre Reed and Kent Hull.

MONK AND IRVIN? NO. From Scott Rich of Minneapolis: “Art Monk and Michael Irvin belong in the Hall of Good, not the Hall of Fame. Because Lynn Swann was elected to the incorrect Hall, do not compound that mistake by electing Monk and Irvin, whose contributions to their respective teams have been recognized in the most appropriate of locations, each team’s Ring of Fame/Honor.”

Disagree. But let’s see what everybody else thinks.

MONK? YES. From David Davis of Ottawa: “Peter, I no longer hate you. For years I couldn’t understand what you had against Monk. To me it just seemed like you didn’t want to listen to anybody about why he’s deserving. Then you said you would go for a guy like Michael Irvin, a player with character issues among other things, and I just thought Monk maybe hit your car one day and you had a grudge. You have just made my week, you have seen the light; you understand that a good teammate is a guy who will do the dirty stuff and take a backseat to other teammates while leading by example. That’s what those Redskins were all about.”

Part of being on the committee is to take the heat, and I’m fine with that. Part of it too, I think, is not being so rock-solid and absolute that a good argument can’t change your mind. As far as Irvin goes, off-field stuff, by our by-laws, shouldn’t be part of our deliberations. I can’t speak for everyone, but with me, I don’t care if Irvin robs four banks tomorrow. He’ll have my vote because of his consistent greatness on the field.

November 30, 2006

Jim Trotter

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:37 am

The HOF voting committee will expand to 40 members this year, and the extra voter will be Jim Trotter of the San Diego Union Tribune, where he has covered the Chargers for a decade.

He hasn’t written much about Art Monk, but he graduated from Howard University in 1986, so he must have caught some Redskins games during that time.  Also, a recent interview of Keenan McCardell included some positive words about Monk, so I’ll put him down as a “Maybe Yes.”

San Diego Union-Tribune
October 21, 2004
McCardell blossoms in rain
Jim Trotter

McCardell turned 34 in January, but said he feels as young as some of his less experienced teammates.

“Being around young blood makes you young,” he said. “I’m happy to be around a lot of young guys. I want to show these guys how to be professional. I mean, they know how to be professional, but if I can help out in any kind of way, then that’s part of me. Somebody taught me, so I can pass that to somebody else.”

McCardell, who is with his fifth team in 13 seasons, credited former Redskins standouts Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders for tutoring him after he was a 12th-round pick by Washington in 1991. In many respects, his game borrows from each of them, be it Monk’s ability to separate from defenders, Clark’s tenacity despite lack of size and Sanders’ ability to make big plays.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys that have played in this league, some very successful guys that played in this league, and we all kind of come with the same thought: You can’t describe yourself as a possession, speed, this that and the other guy,” McCardell said. “You’ve got to describe yourself as a playmaker. That’s the type of guy that I feel that I am. When it’s crunch time and you need a play, who’s going to step up and make the play? I’ve always been that type of guy throughout my career. I think I’m a playmaker.”

A happy playmaker.

Charean Williams

Filed under: Voter Articles — DjTj @ 12:31 am

Michael Wilbon is leaving the HOF voting committee, which means one less vote for Art Monk.  His at-large vote will be taken by Len Shapiro, however, who is also a strong supporter of Monk.  Len Shapiro’s vote as the Washington representative will be assumed by David Elfin of the Washington Times, another strong supporter of Monk.  Elfin’s spot as the PFWA representative will be taken by Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

As a writer in the Dallas area, we might expect Ms. Williams to be somewhat hostile to Redskins, but it’s hard to tell if she holds any such biases.  Before writing for the Star-Telegram, she worked for the Orlando Sentinel.  She is also close friends with John McClain, who is an Art Monk supporter.

I have to put her down as “Unknown.”

Orlando Sentinel
July 16, 1995
American Football Conference
Charean Williams

New York Jets
   – CAMP NEEDS: The Jets waived WR Art Monk and traded WR Rob Moore to Arizona. The likely replacement is Ryan Yarborough, who made all of six catches last season as a rookie. Rookie Hugh Douglas could replace Jeff Lageman (Jaguars) on the defensive line

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 11, 2004
Times have changed but Gibbs still a winner
Charean Williams

Daniel Snyder has outdone himself this time.

In case you somehow missed it, Snyder, who has commanded publicity since spending a record $800 million to buy the Washington Redskins in 1999, made headlines last week with his hiring of Joe Gibbs. But unlike his signings of over-the-hill players Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Jeff George, and his hirings of overrated coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier, Snyder the fan finally made Snyder the owner look good.

Eventually, even a squirrelly owner blinded by his fanaticism
finds a nut.

“This is one of the most exciting days of my life,” Snyder said Thursday upon introducing Gibbs. “As a lifelong Redskin fan, it should be for all of us.”

Gibbs, a proven winner, will win again.

The only question is: How big?

Gibbs will get the Redskins back to the playoffs, where they have been only once since his retirement. He knows X’s and O’s and he knows personnel, two things that haven’t changed since he was gone. But can he win a Super Bowl in an era when his Hogs are a little thinner?

In 1992, the Redskins had nine offensive-line starters, all quality players. They allowed 23 sacks and had a 998-yard rusher. In 2003, the Redskins didn’t have even five decent offensive linemen. They allowed 43 sacks, and their leading rusher had 600 yards.

It’s the same at receiver — where Gibbs had Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Art Monk in ‘92, and now has Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner and a bunch of nobodies — and at other positions as well. Expansion and free agency have robbed NFL teams of depth.

Even though he is who he is, Gibbs is going to find winning a little more difficult than when he left.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
January 12, 2005
Irvin a finalist in first shot at Hall
Charean Williams

Irvin, nicknamed “The Playmaker,” was the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl teams of the 1990s. He caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns in his 12-year career, retiring after the 1999 season with a spinal condition.

The Hall’s 39-member Board of Selectors will select between three and six new members; finalists need at least 80 percent voting support to be elected. The Class of 2005 will be announced Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XXXIX, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Irvin’s induction, though, is not a lock this year.

Marino and Young are expected to be first-ballot inductees, and at least one of the senior nominees, Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman, is expected to be elected. Thomas, a former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who died in 2000, has strong support, and former Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk, who ranks fifth in NFL history with 940 catches and ninth in receiving yards with 12,721, is a finalist again this year.

Last year, former Cowboys Bob Hayes, Rayfield Wright and Cliff Harris survived the cut from 15 to 10 but were denied admission in favor of John Elway, Barry Sanders, Bob Brown and Carl Eller.  Hayes, Wright and Harris now are eligible only as seniors nominees.

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