Of all the jobs Art Monk expected to do at a Super Bowl, the TV star business was way down the list. The Redskins' young wide receiver would like to be the next Charley Taylor, and here he is the poor man's George Michael. Working this week for WRC-TV-4, Monk today interviewed his buddy, tight end Rick Walker, asking about Miami's two-deep zone (really) and how many chisels Don Shula uses to shave his granite jaw (not really).
Now the cameraman wanted a shot over Walker's shoulder at Monk. The shot was designed to show the TV star listening intently. Fact is, the answer was given five minutes ago. Not all in life is true, folks, although a lot of it is real.
So Monk had on his serious TV star look, and Walker, naturally, did his best to break him up.
"Some of us got to work," Walker said to Monk, who broke his foot in the last regular-season game and had a cost removed only this week. "Some of us work for a living," Walker said, "not like you with this easy job. Easy job, reporting."
Monk kept his TV star face intent. Then the camera lights went out and he dissolved into laughter with Walker. Reporting is (everyone knows) as easy as hand-delivering an elephant. Whatever, Art Monk would pack a pachyderm from Potomac to Pasadena rather than be a TV star -- if getting to Pasadena that way meant he then could do some really hard work, such as catching passes against the Dolphins.
You may have wondered how Monk is doing. Better now. For a while after the injury, he felt sorry for himself. No playoffs for him, no Super Bowl. Now, so close, he can't play. He's only 25, only in his third season. But how many chances come along like this? He hid at home. Didn't read the papers. Didn't watch TV. Felt like they cut his leg off. Grouched at his wife.
Monk's injury seemed a sign of defeat for the Redskins in the Super Bowl tournament. The team's leading receiver (35 catches), Monk worked as a wideout, tight end and wingback. He was so efficient a receiver and blocker that the Redskins' offense seemed dependent on him.
The day he was hurt, Monk said not to worry. His buddies would take up the slack. They have. Alvin Garrett has four touchdown catches in the playoffs, Charlie Brown one and Don Warren one. And the Hogs and John Riggins became a dominant force.
It is possible, even understandable, that Art Monk might be, well, not forgotten, but kind of shoved to the side of one's overloaded memory this month. We've seen him on the sidelines at RFK, waving a crutch overhead in celebration. But we hadn't heard from him since that day he was hurt.
"At first, I didn't go to team meetings or come out to practice," he said today. "I didn't watch football on TV or read the papers. I'd jump up in the morning at the time I'd usually go to practice, and then I'd realize, 'I don't have to be there.' So I'd get back in bed, and that's when I'd start thinking about it.
"It really ate me up inside, knowing I couldn't be part of it. The opportunities are very, very rare. When you're suddenly out of the picture and the rest of your team keeps going, you wish well for them, but. . ."
Monk chewed at his lower lip. And said the rest.
". . . it just tears you up inside knowing that you won't be able to take part in it. I try not to think about it. I try to do other things to keep me laughing, such as this TV reporting. I'm having fun."
Some friends had asked if Monk, on crutches, would give advice to the other Redskins receivers. No. He was afraid they'd think he was playing Mr. Big Shot. He did what his buddies would have done for him. They take up for each other, Monk helping Brown, and Garrett and Virgil Seay coming by Monk's locker to agitate.
A pro puts his life into football, Monk says. When he suddenly can't play, it's confusing. "Like your leg. If your leg was cut off tomorrow morning, you'd still feel like it was there." Without football, Monk was a recluse for a week. He didn't want to talk about the amputation.
"My wife (Desiree) was comforting, and finally I realized I was really being selfish. I was still part of the team. They still needed my support. I could be a cheerleader, if I couldn't play, and after that I came out to Redskin Park every day."
Fans called out to Monk at RFK the past three Saturdays. "They see me walking and they'll come up and say, 'We still love you,' or, 'They wouldn't have gotten here if it wasn't for you.' Things like that are really heartwarming and make you feel good."
The best that Monk has felt came last Saturday with the cursed Cowboys in town. "I did not feel as if I was injured. There was so much hype and excitement that I guess I got caught up in it. I actually felt as if I was playing. I'd look at my position but I'd see Charlie Brown running a pattern."
Monk was smiling.
"I'd put myself in his shoes."
A soft lyrical quality now.
"I'd actually be running off."
And Charlie Brown, with Art Monk in his shoes, caught a touchdown pass early in that game.
"Then Charlie did something that really touched me, so much that I started to cry," Monk said. "He came over and gave the ball to me, and we hugged."