The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

Jerry Magee

Jerry Magee of the San Diego Union-Tribune
E-mail: jerrymagee@uniontrib.com

Vote: Maybe Yes (6/10)

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The Washington Post
January 7, 1981
Charger Assistant The Right Man; The Right Man for the Redskins: Gibbs, Creator of Charger Attack
Dave Kindred

If you stand next to Joe Gibbs for one minute as he diagrams a big pass play in a moment of joy, you will know this: “The guy is lousy with class,” said Jerry Magee, the veteran sportswriter of the San Diego Union. “It’s unbelievable for anybody to be that good-looking, that bright, that moral and that good a football coach.”

Everything Dan Fouts sees Magee talking to Gibbs, the record-setting quarterback shoos the writer away. “I want to keep Joe a secret,” Fouts said, “or some team will hire him away.” Magee: “Dan’s kidding on the square there.”

You get the idea. Joe Gibbs is a good guy. He is a born-again Christian. A model of decorum. A sweetheart with the press. A demanding coach who knows how to smile at the right times.

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Chicago Tribune
November 10, 1991
Stats would put Lofton in ‘Hall’
Associated Press

But Jerry Magee, pro football writer for the San Diego Union, wouldn’t speculate on Lofton’s chances.

“He had a period where he wasn’t very productive,” he said. “I think guys in the Hall of Fame should play well all the time. I remember him dropping balls all over the place. And I can’t say his personal life has been exemplary. Some guys pay attention to that.”

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The Dallas Morning News
December 12, 1999
Irvin on right track for Hall of Fame
Jean-Jacques Taylor

Then come players such as Sterling Sharpe, Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Irvin.

“He wouldn’t be a slam dunk,” said Jerry Magee of the San Diego Union Tribune. “I know he had a distinguished career, but so have a lot of other receivers.

“I’m an old-timer and I’ve covered some of the great receivers in the game. He doesn’t rank with Alworth or Rice. He’s borderline.

“Alworth was a superb receiver and a dynamic athlete. He could outrun and outjump Irvin. He could do anything athletically.”

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The San Diego Union-Tribune
February 4, 2006
Hall of Fame Candidates
Jerry Magee

Russ Grimm, G, Washington Redskins One of “the Hogs.” A meritorious candidate, but this list of finalists is a stellar one. Only six can be enshrined.

Claude Humphrey, DE, Atlanta Falcons See Grimm, above.

Michael Irvin, WR, Dallas Cowboys When push came to shove, Irvin too often was doing the shoving. Pushing off is supposed to be a no-no.

Bob Kuechenberg, G, Miami Dolphins There are Dolphins in the hall that were not his equal.

John Madden, coach, Oakland Raiders Not many men have done more to popularize the game of our times than Madden, and he could coach. In another era other than the one in which he operated, his teams arguably would have created a dynasty.

Art Monk, WR, Washington Redskins The consummate possession receiver, but one has to question if that alone qualifies one to have his bust cast in bronze.

Warren Moon, QB, many teams in two leagues, CFL and NFL Exemplary credentials, talent, class and longevity. He has to be in the hall.

Derrick Thomas, LB, Kansas City When he was in the mood, he excelled, but too often he seemed to disappear.

Thurman Thomas, RB, Buffalo Bills Anybody who broke a Jim Brown record by leading the league in rushing four consecutive years has to be respected. The man had thrust.

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Pro Football Weekly
February 18, 2007
Selection committee needs to evaluate totality of candidate
Jerry Magee

The word had got around that a year ago I had spoken in opposition to Irvin’s candidacy, not because of his conduct, which has not always been exemplary, but because on too many occasions when I was observing him, he would be pushing off on defenders while he was tracing his pass routes.

In my heart, I must admit, I did harbor misgivings about Irvin as a resident of the Hall because of his off-the-field peccadillos, but the Hall’s position is that there is no such thing as a bad boy or a candidate for induction who has been overly naughty. Father Flanagan took the same stance when he founded Boys Town. Spencer Tracy was great in the part.

Anyhow, I welcomed Aikman’s call. For openers, I advised him that he was going to have to disabuse me of my thinking that Irvin’s successes, and he had some, were founded in large part on putting his hands on defenders and shoving. You know what? I was so flattered that Aikman, fine quarterback that he was, would take the time to contact me — and he talked persuasively — that when it came time the following day to write Irvin’s name on a ballot, I checked the “Yes” box and not the “No” box. Yes, Irvin should be permitted to take a place among football’s gods.

Perhaps I should not have said that. What occurs behind the closed doors of the selectors’ session is supposed to be privileged. Too often, it is — for about 10 minutes. Then the word gets out. There are moles in that room, I am convinced of it. Hush-hush soon loses its hushes. I have become aware that the high mucky-mucks of the NFL had been advised of every word that had been spoken within minutes of the meeting’s adjournment.

Whatever, since I cast my vote for Irvin, I have been having second thoughts. Did I act properly? Was I caught up in a P.R. effort? Should the Hall welcome individuals who, while they excelled on the field, were less impressive off it?

One day before Irvin received what he termed a “validation” from the board of selectors, commissioner Roger Goodell in his “state of the league” news conference had decried the incidence of misdeeds by NFL players. What sort of message was the league sending by admitting a person with Irvin’s personal history?

Not a favorable one, I fear. I am thinking now of some of those enshrined in Canton. John McNally, known as “Johnny Blood,” a noted roisterer who was a member of the Hall’s founding class. Lawrence Taylor, fierce on the field, hardly a member of the Boy Scouts of America off it. Joe Namath. His saloon, Bachelors III, was frequented by guys with very hard eyes.

I could go on. Guys aren’t welcomed into the Hall because they know how to handle tea cups in drawing rooms. If the persons I have cited were invited to walk up the steps at Canton, it would be an injustice to impose a citizenship clause on the circumstances for admission, but sometimes steps must be taken that are not wholly fair.

My position: Amend the Hall’s bylaws and write into them a stipulation that when a player’s credentials for admission are weighed, he is to be examined as a whole person, for what he represents in society as well as what sort of a football player he was.

1 Comment »

  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 @ 10:37 pm


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