This is a collection of articles written about Art Monk during his career:
August 30, 1991
At 33, Monk Leads Redskins by the Numbers
Art Monk went to Coach Joe Gibbs a few months ago and asked a favor. He told Gibbs that several of the Washington Redskins were doing more and more of their conditioning work at George Mason University, where they’d discovered a small mountain perfect for doing the toughest sprint work.
Monk explained that while treadmills and StairMasters were nice, there was nothing like the mountain for a tough workout, and he wanted to know if perhaps the Redskins could have a mountain of their own. Gibbs spoke to strength coach Dan Riley and then to team owner Jack Kent Cooke, and when the team moves to a new Redskin Park next summer, it’ll come complete with a man-made mountain for Monk and friends to climb.
That mountain and what it represents is the perfect analogy as Monk begins his 12th pro season when the Redskins meet the Detroit Lions at 8 p.m. Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Monk has climbed almost all of them, both symbolically and figuratively. He begins this season with numbers that are already certain of opening the doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and starts with a bit of history riding on every reception.
His 730 catches are the third-highest total ever and put him only 20 behind Charlie Joiner and 89 behind Steve Largent. Having averaged 66 catches per season, he seems certain of passing Joiner this season and should catch Largent in 1992. He also has caught at least one pass in 116 straight games — the fifth-highest total ever.
The numbers are amazing enough and the numbers may someday be how he’s remembered. They tell the story of a guy who was one of the most consistent performers in history, a guy who wasn’t flashy, who didn’t torch opponents. Instead, he was always there, almost never missing a game, almost never dropping a pass.
Someday the Redskins may remember the numbers. But today he’s still the prototype player, the one that Gibbs and Cooke measure all others against. He’s still the hardest worker, the one who most represents grace and dignity and intelligence, the one who is last to the interview room to talk about what he did, but the first to go over the middle and catch a 28-yard pass on third-and-nine in a playoff game at Veterans Stadium.
Monk did sit still for an interview today at Redskin Park. He said the records will mean something someday, but not now. He said he’s excited about this year’s team. He said that at 33, he has to work harder than ever, but that he’s still capable of being productive.
“I’m sure the records will mean a lot to me someday, but the impact of it really hasn’t hit me,” he said. “I don’t think it will until after I leave the game. Right now, I’m just having fun playing the game. I don’t know. I just don’t see it the way everybody else does right now. I’m more interested in playing the game and trying to win, doing what I can to help the team. I’m most proud of the fact that I’m out there every week, that I’m there when they call on me.”
He talked this summer about life in the NFL at 33. He said he has to be more careful about what he eats and more diligent about his conditioning. One of the most incredible moments of this training camp came on the final scrimmage at Carlisle High when Gary Clark and Monk were playing catch. They were talking and laughing and mostly trying to get their bodies ready for one more practice.
But in one instant, Clark threw a high pass, and while still carrying on a conversation, Monk leaped, caught the ball with one hand and pulled it to his chest. It was a dazzling moment and came from a player who is among the first on the practice field and among the last to leave. It’s not unusual for him to go through two hard practices, then go for a one- or two-mile run. During the summer, he lifted weights three times a week at Redskin Park and did some kind of running seven times a week at George Mason.
“Self-motivation is something I’ve always had because I know if you’re going to be good at something, no matter what it is, you have to work for it,” he said. “There’s an old saying I try to remember. It goes: ‘The days that you don’t work, your opponent is working.’ When the time comes that you two meet, he’s going to win because he worked harder. I take that approach. He’s out there working wherever he is, whoever he is. I have to do whatever I can to keep on that same pace.”
And because of that approach, Monk is the one the Redskins turn to when the game is on the line. “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. He knows what I’m going to do, and I know what he’s going to do. You get a feeling that you can do just about anything you want to do. You can’t really describe it. It’s really hard to relate it to someone who hasn’t been out there and been through it.”
Gibbs seemed exasperated this week when a reporter pressed him on the question of leadership and why the Redskins didn’t have leaders. He meant there weren’t Redskins who gave passionate pregame speeches and who lead cheers or wave towels on the sideline.
Gibbs pointed toward Monk and Don Warren and Monte Coleman and said: “We’re a businesslike team. We play with emotion, but just because you don’t hear from guys doesn’t mean they’re not leaders.”
Gibbs said leadership comes in all forms, and it was Monk who called a players-only team meeting on the eve of the 12th game last season. The Redskins were 6-5 and about to play the Dolphins and Bears at home and they were about to find out if they were a legitimate playoff team or not.
The next day he caught 10 passes and scored twice in a 42-20 victory over Miami. The meetings became a weekly ritual as the Redskins won four of their last five, returned to the playoffs and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC first-round game before losing to the San Francisco 49ers.
This season begins with the Redskins having been picked by many to win the NFC, but having looked terrible in preseason. “We’re a very talented team,” Monk said. “I think we’re a closer team than we were a couple of years ago. With the addition of a couple of new faces, we’ve grown closer together. We’re really excited about having a great season. I think we’ll have it as long as we stay healthy. We’ve got to win the games we’re supposed to win.”
Monk said he hasn’t once wondered what his career numbers would be if he’d played with only one quarterback. He has talked often about the magic relationship he had with Joe Theismann, but since then, there’s been Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Stan Humphries and Jeff Rutledge.
The Chicago Tribune
January 17, 1992
Monk vs. Lofton Grabs You
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.
January 22, 1992
Hands of Time: Redskins’ Monk near all-time catches record
MINNEAPOLIS — Unlike Buffalo receiver James Lofton, Washington’s Art Monk is uncomfortable struggling for answers to questions he does not especially want to answer. You can count on one hand the interviews Monk has granted in recent years.
Since the Redskins clinched a spot in Super Bowl XXVI, Monk actually has been doing interviews. He may not be singing like a canary, but at least the Sphinx is speaking.
“”Any time you get in this situation, you wonder if it could be your last,” Monk said Tuesday. “”You want to do everything you can to make the most of the situation. I’m sure a lot of players think that way. ” Monk stands at a podium surrounded by reporters. He answers politely, but he never elaborates. He looks as if he would rather be doing just about anything else — but then he breaks into a smile when asked about the importance of breaking Steve Largent’s NFL record of 819 career catches.
“”It’s important to me,” Monk said, knowing he needs only 19 to make history. “”I think it would be exciting to break the record.
“”Right now, I’m thinking about the Super Bowl, and the chance to break his record hasn’t really sunk in yet. Each year, it gets a little harder to play, and if I do break it, I’ll be very proud. ” Monk completed his 12th season with 801 catches — he had 71 this season, when he led the Redskins. He owns the NFL one-season record with 106 catches in 1984. Monk posted his fifth 1,000-yard season in 1991.
Monk is the senior member of the Posse, the Redskins’ outstanding corps of three receivers. Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders have different strengths.
“”Gary is an unusual character,” Monk said. “”He’s very tough on himself. He demands performance, not only of himself but other players around him. I think he motivates everybody. He’s very determined, the type of individual who is never going to give up.
He’s a deep threat because of his quickness and speed.
“”Ricky is more of a laid-back type of guy like myself. He’s used a lot for interior blocking as well as for throwing short and deep. I’m more of a possession-type receiver. I do a lot of blocking and catch a lot of short passes. ” Monk never has had blazing speed, but he has made adjustments. There are times when he would love to be like Lofton, who uses his speed and long stride to run so many deep routes.
“”He and I have different styles,” Monk said. “”He’s a fleet-footed receiver who makes plays down the field. Obviously, he wouldn’t have been around this long if he wasn’t talented, if he hadn’t gotten the job done so consistently.
“”James has great hands. I’ve always admired him. I just don’t see how he’s been able to maintain that great speed. I wish he would let me in on that secret. He’s running like he was 10 years ago.
“”Me, I feel like I’ve slowed down a couple of seconds. Hey, I’m struggling. But I know what my role is, and I accepted it a long time ago. We have other guys who go after the deep ball. I just have to make sure I’m in the right spots for the short ones. ” Before the Redskins selected him in the first round of the 1980 draft, there were times when Monk thought his NFL career might be at running back.
“”I was recruited by Syracuse as a receiver, but they moved me to running back for a couple of years because of injuries and eligibility problems with some other backs,” Monk said. “”When Joe Morris was ready to play running back, they moved me back to receiver.
“”I was glad to move back, too. I’ve always liked catching the ball more than running with it. ” And where might Monk be today if Morris had not come along and he had remained at running back?
“”I’d probably be back home in White Plains, N.Y.,” Monk said. “”If I had been a running back, I sure don’t think I’d be standing here today.”
Monk’s marks All-time receiving
Player Team Rec
Steve Largent Seattle 819
Art Monk Washington 801
Charlie Joiner San Diego 750
Most seasons 50 or more receptions
Player Team No
Steve Largent Seattle 10
Art Monk Washington 9
James Lofton Buffalo 8
Most receptions, season
Player Team Yr No
Art Monk Wash 1984 106
Char. Hennigan Hou 1964 101
Lionel Taylor Den 1961 100
Jerry Rice S.F 1990 100
Hayw. Jeffires Hou 1991 100
Dallas Morning News
September 5, 1992
Monk taylor-made for Hall of Fame
It was Draft Day 1980, and the anticipation level at Redskins Park was at a suffocating height.
The Washington Redskins had a first-round draft pick. Finally.
Forget that it was the 17th overall selection – too late to grab one of the franchise players in the draft. It would be the first time the Redskins had a No. 1 pick in an NFL draft since 1968.
General Manager Bobby Beathard had identified the areas of need on his 10-6 team – an aging pass rush, no speed in the backfield and the lack of a deep threat. The depth in the draft was at running back, and popular local opinion had the Redskins using their pick on Heisman Trophy winner Charles White, Joe Cribbs or Vagas Ferguson.
Instead, the Redskins claimed a former running back, Art Monk of Syracuse. It was a bit of a projection because Monk had been a runner until his senior year, when he was switched to wide receiver. He posted modest numbers in his one season on the flank – 40 catches and three touchdowns – and appeared to be a reach by the Redskins.
But not in Beathard’s mind. At the news conference after the pick, Beathard said Monk “can come real close” to being another Charley Taylor. Talk about putting a young player on the spot. Taylor had retired from the Redskins just two seasons earlier as the NFL’s all-time leading receiver.
Thirteen years later, Monk has not come close to Taylor – he has zoomed past him. And with 19 more receptions this season, Monk will have sped past everyone else, too. He ranks second on pro football’s all-time receiving list with 801 catches. Only Steve Largent has more.
“I knew I had some ability,” Monk said. “But I didn’t know whether I’d be able to compete at this level. When I signed my first contract, I thought I’d play out those years and that would be it. But I got excited, got some confidence in myself and wanted to play some more.”
Before Monk could begin his quest for records in 1980, he needed the stamp of approval of players whose records he would chase. Beathard was sold on Monk but wanted two other members of the organization to study him – administrative assistant Bobby Mitchell and Taylor, who was then a scout.
Mitchell and Taylor made successful switches from running back to wide receiver during their careers with the Redskins. Mitchell made the move in his fifth season in 1962 and Taylor in his third season in 1966.
Both were good running backs – Mitchell went to the Pro Bowl once and Taylor was the NFL Rookie of the Year – but both became Hall of Fame receivers. Mitchell retired in 1969 as the NFL’s second all-time leading receiver with 521 catches. Taylor retired in 1978 on top with 649.
Who better to judge Monk’s star potential than the in-house experts on switching positions and catching passes? So Mitchell went up to Syracuse to see Monk in the fall, and Taylor made the trip in the winter.
For Mitchell, visiting Monk was like revisiting his former teammate Taylor. They had similar size (6-3, 210), speed and strength. They also were dynamic after the catch.
“I liked Art’s run ability,” Mitchell said. “As soon as he got the ball, you could see him divorce himself from the defensive player. Even if he ran a bad pattern, if the ball got there, he would still separate himself. He looked like a natural.”
So Mitchell gave thumbs up to Beathard.
Taylor saw a slightly more polished version of Monk when he visited Syracuse. Monk had a full season at the position by then. He still had a long way to go, but Taylor liked his chances. He also gave Monk his nod of approval.
“His talent was obvious,” Taylor said.
It took Monk five years before he slapped his name at the top of his profession with a 106-catch, 1,372-yard season in 1984. It gave him his only NFL receiving crown and first Pro Bowl berth. He has had four 1,000-yard seasons and two Pro Bowl berths since.
Monk has delivered for the Redskins in a variety of capacities. Early in his career, he was the club’s deep threat. But when Washington signed speedy Smurfs Clark and Sanders out of the USFL in the mid-1980s, Monk became the possession receiver. So he has been as flexible in the scheme as he has been productive in it.
Monk has averaged 66 catches per season in his career. But he has picked up the pace in his pursuit of Largent. Since hitting age 30, Monk has averaged 74 catches per year.
“I’ve always thought of Art as the Joe DiMaggio of football,” Casserly said. “DiMaggio always had the reputation of being a class act. He was a great player who never said much or showed much emotion.
“People might say well, Joe DiMaggio was a great player. But this guy’s stats were great, too, if not better. When you add it up in the end, you’ll have a guy who had the most catches in a season and in a career, three (Super Bowl) rings and no reason to not be in the Hall of Fame.”