The Quiet Hero
By Richard Justice
Few athletes handled success with less pretense than Art Monk. Yet sometimes the goodness of the person overshadowed the magnificence of the performer. Occasionally lost in all the accolades about Monk the man and Monk the teammate and Monk the husband and father is the simple fact that Art Monk was one of the best receivers in NFL history.
He didn't have game-breaking speed, but he had the softest hands and the size and strength to muscle over cornerbacks or to jar linebackers. He also had the courage to catch balls in the middle of the field, where the collisions are the most severe.
He arrived at Redskin Park in 1980 as a quiet, unassuming wide receiver from Syracuse and departed 14 seasons later having firmly established himself as one of the best players in history at his position. His 940 career receptions are second on the all-time list. His streak of 183 consecutive games with at least one catch is an NFL record. And from 1980 until 1993, he was a key part of a magical era for the Washington Redskins.
He played 205 games and caught 888 balls. Only Sammy Baugh and Monte Coleman, with 16 seasons apiece, played more years for the Redskins. Only Coleman, with 216 games, was on the field more.
In a citywide poll on the occasion of the Redskins' 50th anniversary, Monk was voted by Washington fans as the greatest player in the franchise's history ahead of Sonny Jurgensen, Sammy Baugh, John Riggins and Charley Taylor.
"In terms of character, he was one of the best guys I've ever been around," former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "He was a role model for the youth, he was tough, he was smart and he had more talent than anyone. He made hard things look easy.