The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

Don Pierson

Don Pierson of the Chicago Tribune

Vote: Likely Yes (7/10)

The Chicago Tribune
April 17, 1991
Ismail will be rarity if Pats pick him 1st
Don Pierson

The Washington Redskins have made only seven first-round picks in the last 27 years. Two of them were wide receivers – Hall of Famer Charley Taylor and future Hall of Famer Art Monk. Both were converted running backs.

The Chicago Tribune
October 21, 1991
Butler ruling due soon in test case on alcohol policy
Don Pierson

– Washington coach Joe Gibbs was asked why he appeared to ignore receiver Art Monk last week when Monk moved past Charlie Joiner into second place on the all-time receiving list.

“I certainly don’t think he wants a hug from me. Maybe from somebody else, but not from me. My first thought was ‘O well, it’s another milestone for Art.’ If I stop for every one of those, we might not get to play. I’m so used to him doing things like that,” Gibbs said.

The Chicago Tribune
January 17, 1992
Monk vs. Lofton Grabs You
Don Pierson

Art Monk and James Lofton have caught everything except Steve Largent and the spotlight on football’s biggest stage. Now, on their way to the Hall of Fame, their careers intersect for a moment in Minneapolis in a Super Bowl that could be dedicated to the two old receivers.

This is the Redskins’ fourth Super Bowl since Monk was their No. 1 draft choice in 1980, but he has caught only two passes. In 1982, he missed the game after suffering a broken foot in the regular season finale. In 1983, Monk caught only one pass for 26 yards when the Redskins were blown out 38-9 by the Raiders. In 1987, Monk missed the first two playoff games with a knee injury and returned to the Super Bowl to catch Doug Williams’ first completion in Washington’s 42-10 rout of Denver.

“It’s the only thing I really haven’t done. It means a lot,” Monk said this week in a rare interview.

Art Monk. The name describes his profession and his personality. Because he prefers example to exhibition, others must speak about him.

“We had just watched him catch a pass and run over a defensive back (Monk, like Walter Payton, doesn’t like to run out of bounds). He came off the field and everybody was laughing, saying ‘He didn’t realize how heavy you were,’ ” defensive end Charles Mann said. “Art constantly tries to lose weight. He weights 210, not an ounce of fat, and he’s not happy.

“In the off-season last year, he never missed a weight workout. From March 1 until training camp, there are 55 workouts you can get. He had all 55. My wife has set up a Monk watch. We’ve been clipping out stories and sending them to his wife. Otherwise, he wouldn’t see it.”

Gary Clark, the most productive Redskin receiver, says: “We all want to be the best receiver on the team, but we know that Monk is the best.”

In the Redskins’ playoff loss to the 49ers last season, San Francisco nose tackle Michael Carter intercepted a pass late in the 28-10 game and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. There was no chance for anyone to catch him and no reason to try, except here came Art Monk out of the corner of everyone’s eye, racing from downfield at full speed, giving futile chase to a lost cause, not because he had a shot to catch him but because Art Monk is a professional.

“A pure competitor,” said Bobby Mitchell, Redskins’ assistant general manager and Hall of Fame receiver himself. “He doesn’t waste his energy talking about who’s the best, who’s getting the glory, who’s catching the most balls.”

The son of a construction worker and a second cousin of jazzman Thelonius Monk, Monk works at his craft with a “no-nonsense” attitude that rubs off, according to receivers coach Charley Taylor, another Hall of Famer in the Redskins’ fold.

“How Art Monk goes, we go. He can catch two balls in practice or three or 15. He works the same. Guys look at him and they don’t get upset when balls don’t come their way,” Taylor said.

Monk once told the Washington Post: “The great times are when you reach a point in a ballgame where I know they’re really looking at me to take control of a situation. Once you feel that, you just respond to it. It takes control of you. You get into a groove with the quarterback.”

Monk has a mirror at his locker, the only clue that he occasionally notices himself and fulfils the psychological profile of receivers studied by Dr. Arnold J. Mandell during his 1972 season with the San Diego Chargers.

“The wide receiver is a very special human being. He shares many features with actors and movie stars,” Mandell wrote. “He is narcissistic and vain and basically a loner.”

If Monk were a willing spokesman for his sport, he might be able to share additional insight beyond his aversion to Super Bowl hype.

“It’s everything that I don’t particularly care for. All the media and all the attention . . . a lot of confusion. I’d rather just be behind the scenes,” he said.

The Chicago Tribune
October 13, 1992
Monk tops Largent; Skins win
Don Pierson

Linebacker Wilber Marshall turned quarterback John Elway’s first game in RFK Stadium into a Monday nightmare with a performance that made the Washington Redskins remember they are world champions.

Before they were finished stomping the Denver Broncos 34-3, Art Monk became the National Football League’s all-time leading receiver. His three consecutive catches in the fourth quarter gave him 820 for his 13-year career, one more than Seattle’s Steve Largent.

Teammates rushed onto the field and carried Monkback to the huddle. Coach Joe Gibbs called him “one of the classiest guys in pro sports.”

“The fans deserve this record. The record is for them,” Monk said.

The Chicago Tribune
December 25, 1992
NFL offers a quirky final week
Don Pierson

– Green Bay’s Sterling Sharpe needs five catches to break the season record of 106, set by Washington’s Art Monk in 1984.

Monk, who doesn’t ordinarily talk to reporters, was loquacious compared to Sharpe.

“I’m happy for him,” Monk said. “It’s not my record to keep. I’d like to see someone else experience the excitement and joy I had breaking it.”

The Chicago Tribune
December 20, 2002
Pro Bowl needs grounding
Don Pierson

Two-thirds of the voting is done by players and coaches, the other third by fans, so players cherish the recognition of peers. Too bad they don’t cherish the responsibility of informed voting. Stories of recklessly and hastily filling out of ballots in team meetings rival the legends of Chicago elections.

There is little preparation or method, other than shouting between offense and defense over favorite or familiar friends and enemies. Coaches tend to take it more seriously yet are always limited by the film they study of particular opponents. An objective overall review is myth, yet Pro Bowl selection often becomes an exaggerated criterion for Hall of Fame candidacy.

St.Petersburg Times
September 5, 2003
Fame May Beckon a Few Bucs
Gary Shelton

Keyshawn Johnson

Pierson: “I think there are a lot of Keyshawns. Well, I shouldn’t say a lot. But there are a lot of receivers with a lot of stats. What does it mean? It’s like the thousand-yard rusher. That doesn’t mean what it used to mean.”

The Chicago Tribune
January 9, 2004
New terrain, same compass
Don Pierson

The NFL has changed in the 11 years since Joe Gibbs left to own race cars, but not so much that he won’t be able to recognize the difference between a zone blitz and a pit stop.

Gibbs was an offensive innovator who developed the “ace” backfield, or one-back attack with an “H-back,” a tight end in motion who functions like a fullback. Gibbs also thrived using three wide-receiver sets. His 1983 Super Bowl team that lost to the Raiders set a regular-season scoring record of 541 points that stood until 1998. His last Super Bowl team featured wide receivers Gary Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders.

It will be a while before strategy passes Gibbs by. The two-point conversion, introduced in 1994, will not tax Gibbs’ ability to make a decision.

“He’s the best coach I’ve been around,” said Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen, who played for Gibbs, San Francisco’s George Seifert and the Raiders’ Tom Flores and Mike Shanahan.

The Chicago Tribune
December 23, 2005
Bears’ Pro Bowl bounty bodes well
Don Pierson

The Pro Bowl can cause more problems than it solves. Many player contracts include Pro Bowl incentives, which can undermine team goals as much as complement them.

The Pro Bowl is where players and agents gather and compare notes and decide who is underpaid. They usually conclude that nobody is overpaid.

Pro Bowl recognition ranks too high on the popular criteria for eventual Hall of Fame consideration, especially now that fans are part of the Pro Bowl voting process.


  1. 81 Reasons to Induct Art Monk

    1) 12,721 Receiving Yards (#9 all time, eight years after retirement)

    2) 940 Receptions ( was #1, is now #5 eight years after retiring)

    3) 68 Receiving Touchdowns (still in top 30, all time)

    4) 224 Games played

    5) Caught at least one pass in 183 consecutive games (once a record)

    6) Helped Washington to three SB victories in four appearances.

    7) Three consecutive Pro Bowl Selections

    8) “Art was Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice was” – Joe Theismann

    9) Record of 106 receptions in 1984 stood for eight years.

    10) “Quiet about his work, very loud with his results” – Mark Rypien

    11) First to record 106 receptions in one season

    12) First to catch at least one pass in 164 consecutive games

    13) First to catch more than 900 passes.

    14) Caught 58 passes as a rookie, unanimous All-Rookie Selection

    15) Redskins 1984 MVP

    16) 50 or more reception in a season 9 times

    17) 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season 5 times

    18) Master of the medium route over the middle, aka “No Man’s Land”

    19) First Redskin to produce 3 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons

    20) Prototype for the modern receiver

    21) 3-time 1st or 2nd team All-NFC Team selection

    22) In ’85, named to the Pro Football Weekly All-Pro Team

    23) In ’85, named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team

    24) In ’85, named to the UPI All-NFL Team

    25) In ’86, named to the UPI All-NFC Team

    26) Founded the Good Samaritan Foundation, with teammates.

    27) 1, 062 Playoff yards

    28) Largent, Lofton and Stallworth are already in.

    29) The consummate pro; made the big catch, went back to the huddle.

    30) Not a “Hot Dog”; let his play on the field do all the talking.

    31) Nicknamed “Money” by teammates, “Artist” by the fans

    32) Founded the Student Training Opportunity Program, with teammates

    33) Started the Art Monk Football Camp” in 1983, and it’s still going.

    34) 16-year career, 0 arrests.

    35) Named to TSN’s “100 Greatest Football Players” list

    36) Never once disappointed the team or the fans, on the field or off.

    37) A first round draft pick that played like a first round draft pick.

    38) Has more career catches than anyone currently in the Hall.

    39) Putting loud jerks in over Monk sends the wrong message to kids.

    40) Art does not lobby to get himself inducted

    41) First down machine on 3rd and long

    42) Still holds the club record for catches in a season (106)

    43) Still holds the club record for passes caught in a game (13, twice)

    44) Honored as one of the “Washingtonians of the Year” in 1992

    45) Focuses on the forgotten “high school aged” youth in DC.

    46) “I don’t know about the criteria, but whatever it is, I believe Art has achieved it” –Joe Theismann

    47) “He was big, he was strong, and he was intelligent. He had everything”-Joe Gibbs, HOF inductee

    48) “Art Monk was an example for Jerry Rice. That’s what Jerry always told me.”- Ronnie Lott, HOF inductee

    49) “There’s nothing negative to say. He has the numbers, the catches, the championships.” –Lott

    50) “Spend a day with Art Monk, and your life will improve by 10%”- Theismann

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

    52) If he doesn’t get in, they might as well close the Hall.

    53) “There was never a classier player in this franchise’s history, or in league history, than Art Monk. You always knew the team would be getting Art Monk’s best effort day in and day out.” –Charlie Casserly

    54) “Monk is headed to Canton downhill on roller skates”- Bill Parcells, 1995

    55) Only one other player, linebacker Monte Coleman, has been on the field for the Redskins more than Monk.

    56) Art Monk is almost as proud of his relative anonymity as he is the record-setting numbers he compiled over a 16-year NFL career.

    57) When Monk spoke, it was usually with tough catches in the clutch moments of big games.

    58) Nothing came naturally for Monk, who spent countless hours on the practice field and many more behind the projector.

    59) I never saw Monk drop a pass. Period.

    60) Monk’s 40-yard catch with eight minutes left in the first quarter of SBXXII was Doug Williams’ first completion of what would be a record setting game.

    61) Named in a 1992 poll during the team’s 50th Anniversary Season as the most popular Redskin of all time.

    62) Participates in a “Kid’s Fishing Day” for underprivileged kids

    63) Has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, reciting children’s fairy tales with musical accompaniment.

    64) “He’s more than just his receptions. Few players have been able to achieve what he’s achieved.” –Richie Petitbon

    65) “He is a gifted athlete who takes great care of himself. He’s a guy who works at his craft, and responds to any challenge. However, he does it so quietly that his accomplishments are sometimes overlooked.”- Joe Gibbs

    66) Selected to the 1989 All-Madden Team

    67) Early in his career, Art arranged and scheduled charity basketball games for the Redskins.

    68) “I can’t see how a receiver could be more valuable to a team.” –Gibbs

    69) Fame is often hard earned. Character is often elusive to define. A man of great character himself, Art Monk encompasses what it means to be a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    70) Monk wasn’t a “SportsCenter” type of receiver — more like a “Masterpiece Theatre” type.

    71) You wouldn’t see Monk pull out a Sharpie to sign a ball after scoring a touchdown.

    72) “He embodied the old school, and for that alone he should be enshrined so that when a father takes his son through the Hall of Fame, he can say, “Son, here is a man who once caught 106 passes in a season when no one was catching 100 passes. Here was a man who caught a pass in 183 straight games. And not once did he ever pull a cell phone out to make a call after any of those catches.” –Thomas Loverro, Washington Times

    73) Football is a game of first downs and Monk was the receiver who would move the chains.

    74) He has since been passed in this pass-crazy era, but in the context of when he played, Art Monk was a Hall of Fame receiver.

    75) He did this while never playing with a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback.

    76) Critics will say Monk benefited from playing in Joe Gibbs’ system. What might be the case is that the Gibbs system benefited from having Monk.

    77) “I believe he’s a Hall of Famer. I was a pro scout when he was playing, so it was my job to know who those guys were. I would put Art in that category, but apparently there are a lot of Hall of Fame voters who don’t feel Art Monk was in that category. It’s hard for me to believe they ever saw him play.” –Bill Polian, President Indianapolis Colts

    78) He was the anti-Terrell Owens.

    79) He was the standard-bearer, the mold-maker and the receiver every team of his era wished they’d had.

    80) He’s already a Hall Of Famer off the field.

    81) It’s time.

    Comment by Mark Barnette — January 10, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

  2. In considering Monk vs. Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, it should be noted that Monk’s personal playoff stats are the best of the bunch. His yards per game, catches per game, and yards per catch numbers beat out those of Carter, Brown, and Reed. Carter and Reed have Very Small advantages in TDs per game, while Monk beats out Brown even in this category. Playoff TD numbers are close, even though all of these other guys played in passing-first offenses, while Monk’s Redskins teams were power running teams at heart. If you compare each of these guys’ numbers in NFC/AFC Championship games, Monk sweeps ALL categories, outgaining the next best candidate by nearly 40 YARDS a game!
    Not only this, but Monk and the Redskins faced Much better competition in their playoff games. If you compare these candidates based on the number of Super Bowl winners and losers they played during their post season exploits, you’ll find that Monk and the ‘Skins come out WAY on top.
    Consider these purely anectdotal facts: Carter and the Vikings lost their two NFC Championship game appearances to the Chris Chandler-led Atlanta Falcons and the Kerry Collins-led NY Giants. Monk and the ‘Skins NEVER lost a playoff game to a team that was more than 2 years removed from a Super Bowl championship. I’ve created a statistic to compare the greatness of playoff opponents called the POGQ (playoff opponent greatness quotient) which I will not trouble you with here. Suffice to say, Monk and the ‘Skins win out in that comparison. Not only that, the teams who Monk and the ‘Skins faced in the playoffs actually had a higher regular season winning percentage than those faced by Carter, Brown or Reed.

    So Monk put up better personal playoff numbers, while his team was winning a higher percentage of their playoff games, against stronger playoff competition, and bringing home Super Bowl rings.
    All those pro bowls these other guys went to must look pretty insignificant.

    I have prepared a powerpoint presentation on this subject. If the person running this site would like a copy, please e-mail me and let me know where I can send it as an attachment.

    Comment by remember the redskins — September 28, 2007 @ 10:12 am

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