Cliff Christl of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Vote: Fighting Against Art Monk (0/10)
JS Online: Weblog
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005
Hall of Fame Meeting
This year, we’ve been criticized mainly for not selecting Michael Irvin and Derrick Thomas. I believe both players belong in the Hall of Fame, but also realize that this was a strong group of finalists and it forced me and maybe some others to make some tough decisions in narrowing the field from 15 to 10 to six. That said, when Irvin reached the final six, it was simply a yes or no vote. I voted yes, but all it took was eight no votes out of 39 to deprive him of induction.
The other criticism I’ve heard is that Art Monk belongs in the Hall. Again, I understand where his supporters are coming from. He left the game as the all-time leading receiver, with three Super Bowl rings and having stood the test of time. I also believe he was as good as or better than some receivers already in the Hall: Charlie Joiner, Lynn Swann and Steve Largent, among them. But Joiner, Swann and Largent were all voted in before I got on the committee and I doubt if I would have voted for any of them.
On the flip side, Monk averaged only 13.5 yards per catch. He was tough across the middle, a superb blocker and and a selfless player, but he was never a big playmaker. That bothers me. He also was named to only three Pro Bowls in 16 years. I looked back at some old player rankings that reflected a consensus of scouts’ opinions from when Monk played. I didn’t have every year, but the highest Monk was ever rated was fourth. One year he was sixth. But there were years when he wasn’t rated in the top 12. There also were years when one of his fellow wide receivers on the Redskins was rated ahead of him, including Gary Clark. In essence, Monk was never really regarded as one of the top three, four receivers in the game. More often than not, he was ranked about 10th.
Is that good enough to get in the Hall, when you consider that he was a very good player for 15 years? Or should the Hall be open only to the very best: The players who rank among the top three, four at their positions over an extended period? That’s why Monk has been a tough call for me.
But they’re almost all tough. I’ve had several personnel people tell me that Roger Wehrli was one of the great cornerbacks of all time. Among the scouts that I’ve talked to, Wehrli draws more praise than Monk. Ron Wolf told me that if we studied game film, Wehrli would be a cinch to make it. Yet Wehrli didn’t get past the first vote.
How many talk radio hosts took up his cause? Probably very few, if any, because they don’t know anything about him. And that’s my point. How many of our critics know that most scouts never rated Monk among the top eight to 10 receivers in the game, except for maybe after two or three of his biggest seasons?