By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 3, 2008
After many years waiting for a phone call that never came, Art Monk focused on work to distract himself each time another group was elected to the Hall of Fame. But Monk, a longtime standout wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, had to change his routine yesterday when he was among six former players, including Redskins teammate Darrell Green, voted into this season's class.
Monk received a standing ovation as he entered a Dupont Circle hotel to attend a news conference that former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann arranged to honor his friend. Strangers congratulated Monk as he maneuvered through the crowded lobby, thanking him for his consistency in a 16-year career that included 14 seasons and four Super Bowls (three victories) with the Redskins.
Monk was unable to finish the project he started yesterday, but he didn't seem to mind.
"I never really expected this to happen even though there was the anticipation of it happening the past several years," Monk said as he addressed family, friends and reporters. "I just sort of let it get by me without trying to notice it, but I'm extremely excited about the induction. I'm also extremely humbled at the same time.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined myself, as a little boy, getting to this point. Whether I actually deserve to be here or not is for [others] to determine. This is always something that was very [unattainable] for me growing up, playing in the NFL and obviously being considered a Hall of Famer. It's a great honor."
Two weeks ago, at a dinner hosted by the Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams hugged Monk and said: "This is it. You are getting in this time."
An eight-time finalist, Monk, 50, had not given up hope of being elected. For his peace of mind, however, Monk needed to distract himself yesterday. He said he didn't watch the selection show.
"I was home just doing some work," he said. "Typically at this time of the year, I just put my mind someplace else. I watch TV, I go out and do something, just trying to keep myself busy. I just tried to keep my mind off of it."
Monk should have been elected long ago, Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs said, because of his importance to Gibbs's success in his first stint with the organization.
"One of the things on Art's behalf is that he sacrificed for the team," Gibbs, who resigned as team president and coach Jan. 8, said from North Carolina during a telephone interview. "As most people know, we used three wide receivers, but Art was the inside portion of the three wide receivers. We used him in there blocking a lot. And a lot of the passes he caught were across the middle, they were shorter passes, and he actually sacrificed so much for the team.
"If we had played him outside, his average per catch and everything would have gone up. The fact that he was so important to us, and he was a big receiver, we used him in a blocking role in there. He was unselfish, he sacrificed for the team, and obviously he did a lot for us. Obviously, all three of those guys [Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders] were fantastic for us, they all played huge roles. But I'm just thrilled that Art, after this long wait, finally got in. With his numbers and everything that he had, and particularly what he did for us . . . he was deserving."
Monk was the first player with more than 900 career receptions, finishing his career as the NFL's all-time leader with 940. Jerry Rice broke Monk's reception mark during the 1995 season.
Monk, Washington's first-round selection in the 1980 draft, also had 12,721 career receiving yards and 68 touchdown catches. He was a three-time all-pro selection (1984, '85, '86) and was voted to the 1980s all-decade team.
"And the numbers might have been a lot different if we were a passing team," said Mann, Monk's business partner in Alliant Merchant Services, an electronic payment services company. "We were also a running team. We had the threat to go deep, but Joe always had the threat to go deep so that we could run the ball. You can't be a physical team if you're only throwing the ball down the field.
Gibbs "always had the threat of throwing so he could always run you into submission. That was the offense that we ran. Art was subjected to that. But you know what? Art was Mr. Third Down. If you needed a third down and six or seven yards, he was the guy. He didn't get the long bombs all the time. He got the for-sure catch to keep a drive alive."
For Monk, being elected to the Hall of Fame with Green "just makes it even more special to know that Darrell's in there with me. We had a lot of special times out there on the field. Even more importantly to myself and to him, was our relationship off the field.
"We've spent a lot of time together working within this community serving the underserved. We fellowship together at the same church. Our families are very close. Our children call each other aunts and uncles. It's just really special to know not only that we're in, but we're going in together."