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He Quietly Got It Done

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Former Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, who held numerous NFL receiving records when he retired following the 1995 season, talks about his election via phone at a news conference in Phoenix, Az. on Saturday. Video by Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.comPhoto support: Whitney Shefte/washingtonpost.com

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By Mike Wise
Sunday, February 3, 2008

They used to play tackle football in White Plains, N.Y., in the 1960s. "In the streets," Art Monk said. "We were kids. We didn't even think about it. Then it was on to Pop Warner, high school, Syracuse. Then the NFL."

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Then Canton.

Finally.

After nearly a decade of solemnly wishing to hear his name called -- yet possessing too much dignity and grace to complain -- the greatest wide receiver in Washington Redskins history was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday.

Eight long years after he was first eligible to be enshrined.

Forty-odd years since a kid hoped beyond hope on the asphalt of a bedroom community 45 minutes from Manhattan.

"Never in my wildest dreams as a little boy did I ever imagine getting to this point," Monk said. He spoke humbly in a half-full ballroom of Jurys Washington Hotel at Dupont Circle, where friends and family gradually filed in the next two hours -- as if a once-trailing candidate had somehow pulled out the New Hampshire primary.

Monk's loyal supporters were caught off guard by the election to Canton. Like most fans of the hard-luck possession wide receiver the past eight years, they figured he might be denied again.

But on a day when Darrell Green went through as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, his teammate in time, Monk, jubilantly joined him.

Russ Grimm was the only Redskin on the ballot who didn't get in, and he was denied on, of all afternoons, Groundhog Day.

Remember the movie by the same title, in which Bill Murray's character wakes up to the same day, over and over? Yeah? Well, that was Monk each Hall of Fame election day in this millennium.

His induction yesterday more than made up for any slight, past or present.


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