Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pro Football HoF Missing an Important Piece

Do you remember that kid in high school who everybody loved? You know, the one who was good at so many things, but hardly ever bragged about it? The one who was always there when you needed him? The one who had the potential to be the star at everything, but spent his time quietly helping others achieve their personal best? That’s right … the one who everybody knew should have been voted “Most Likely to Succeed” instead of the loudmouth showboat who ended up winning that particular superlative.

Well, the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have their very own version of “that kid.” His name is Art Monk. He was the first player in NFL history to break the 100-reception mark in a season, a barrier that was not broken by another player for six more season. He retired in 1995 as the all-time receptions leader with 940 catches. He caught all of these passes without whining to his coaches or quarterbacks (none of whom were named or played at the level of Joe Montana, Steve Young or Troy Aikman) about wanting more catches. In fact, he caught 940 passes while helping his fellow wideouts break loose for long plays, and helping his teams’ running backs by some of the best downfield blocking seen from a wide receiver.

Photo from

Yet, Art Monk has been snubbed by the Hall of Fame Voters time and time again. They point to the fact that his career yards-per-reception stands at “only” 13.5, ignoring the fact that he put his body on the line to go across the middle time and time again. How many times have we seen supposed star receivers develop a case of the alligator arms while trying to catch a first-down pass across the middle? You never saw Monk pull back. To that end, during his 14 years as a Redskin, nearly two-thirds of Monk’s 888 receptions were for first downs. How’s that for a statistic?

The case for placing Art Monk in the Hall of Fame would take up pages upon pages of this blog, space which we do not have. However, I urge you to take a look at this letter and either cut/paste it or use it as inspiration for your own letter to any or all of the Hall of Fame voters. The names and contact info for all but 6 of the voters is below. If you have info on any of the ones I’m missing, please pass it along.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with two items. First is a link to an excellent website devoted to getting Art Monk into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Second is an excerpt from an article that’s Peter King wrote about how he changed his mind from being a Monk hater to a believer:

As I made my rounds of training camps this year, I asked veteran coaches about Monk and the one word that kept coming up was “unselfish.” His downfield blocking prowess kept coming up. His long-term numbers were almost Yastrzemski-like (one or two great years, lots of productive ones, very reliable). But when I talked to Joe Gibbs on Friday, the one thing that stood out was the body of work we don’t see — the downfield blocking, the quiet leadership, and this: Unlike his louder receiving mates Clark and Ricky Sanders, Monk, according to Gibbs, never once said he wanted the ball more. “We used him almost as a tight end a lot,” said Gibbs, “and not only did he do it willingly, he was a great blocker for us. If he’d been a squeaky wheel, who knows how many catches Art would have had. But he cared about one thing — the team.” ( - 11/27/2006)

Kent Somers, Arizona Republic

Len Pasquarelli,

Scott Garceau, WMAR-TV

Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News

Charles Chandler, Charlotte Observer

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

Chick Ludwig, Dayton Daily News

Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News

Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News

Mike O'Hara, The Detroit News

Cliff Christl, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

John McClain, Houston Chronicle

Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star

Sam Kouvaris, WJXT-TV

Bob Gretz, KCFX Overland Park, KS

Edwin Pope, Miami Herald

Sid Hartman, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Ron Borges, HBO Sports/Pro Football Weekly

Pete Finney, Times-Picayune

Vinny DiTrani, Bergen Record

Paul Zimmerman, Sports Illustrated

Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Daily News

Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Jerry Magee, San Diego Union Tribune

Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange

Clare Farnsworth, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Ira Kaufman, Tampa Tribune

David Climer, The Tennessean

David Elfin, Washington Times

Charean Williams, Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange

Jarrett Bell, USA Today

John Clayton, ESPN/ESPN Magazine

John Czarnecki,

Nancy Gay, San Francisco Chronicle

Dave Goldberg, Associated Press

Peter King, Sports Illustrated

Bob Oates, Los Angeles Times


Clement said...

Unfortunately, we all know the stories, numbers, and legends of Art Monk.

I always wondered why a guy like Steve Largent got so much credit for doing so much less.

Monk was as steady as it comes.

As a Syracuse fan, I wasn't even born when he left in 1980...but his legacy there lives on. Even current stars like Marvin Harrison knew of Monk's legacy while an Orange(man).

Here are a few other tidbits, of which most Skins fans know by heart, but need to be stressed again:
1) Along with Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, he was part of a prolific wide receiver trio nicknamed "The Posse," as they became the first trio of wide receivers in NFL history to post 1,000-plus yards in the same season (1989)
2) The NFL honored Monk by naming him to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
3) With the Redskins, Monk played in Super Bowl XVIII, Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXVI. In Super Bowl XXVI, he caught 7 passes for 113 yards. [Score: Skins 37-Bills 24.]

He was also:
3-time Pro Bowler: 1984, 1985, 1986
2-time All-Pro: 1984, 1985

I suppose anyone can be quieted by names like Jerry Rice; however, I find it a shame that names like Michael Irvin in recent years overshadow Monk.

Yes, Irvin was the "playmaker". But character-wise, he wouldn't be allowed in the same rooms as Mr. Monk.

While his physicality and big-playmaking ability allowed Irvin to help the Cowboys win three Super Bowls, don't dismiss Monk's three Super Bowl appearances with his team (one he was injured) and the steadiness he gave to the Posse.

While Clark and Sanders were often the flashier guys, Monk was the steadiest of the steady.

Props on the article.

I do have a few questions on your Hall of Fame opinions on:
-Minnesota Vikings WR Cris Carter
-Green Bay Packers WR Sterling Sharpe (if he had stayed healthy, not if he should be in)
-Randy Moss

Great work.


Sum said...

I'll start from the bottom up.

I think Randy Moss has done nothing but help his cause this season. Sure, he had extra games to break Rice's single season TD mark, but he still did it. If the Pats do pull off 19-0, I think Moss becomes a 2nd ballot Hall of Famer.

Sharpe is the player I loved to hate, mainly because he was the one who broke Monk's single season reception record :-). But seriously, I think that if Sharpe had stayed in the game and kept up the level of production, he should've been a shoe-in.

Finally, Carter. The only knock I can see against him is that he never made it to the Super Bowl. Granted, I dont have stats in front of me at the moment, but this guy brought big-time plays even after the Vikings drafted Moss. He's got to get in.

Basically, in my opinion, WR is one of the least respected positions when it comes to Hall voting. I understand it in that receivers are dependent on QBs to get them the ball, but when a player puts up statistics that are beyond impressive for the generation of football in which he played, and when he adds a sense of leadership to it all, there's no excuse for the player to be left out.