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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins.
Two star players from Joe Gibbs' first stint as coach of the Redskins, Art Monk and Russ Grimm, made the list of 15 finalists that will be considered for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next summer. Monk has been eligible for induction for five years and has made it to the round of 15 every year, while Grimm has been eligible for nine years and this is the first time he has made it this far.
Don't expect either to get in.
It's not that they're undeserving; in fact, their credentials are impeccable. In addition to their well-chronicled individual accomplishments, the fact that just one player from the team that had that 10-year run of greatness from 1982-1991 is in the HOF, John Riggins, defies logic. Sure Gibbs himself is in, but he wasn't that good a coach that he could do what he did without some Canton-quality players. Grimm and Monk are two of those.
So why won't they get in when the Board of Selectors meets in Jacksonville the day before the Super Bowl? For one thing, the competition is pretty stiff. From the Washington Post: Quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young made the list in their first year of eligibility and seem virtually certain to be enshrined in August in Canton, Ohio. They are joined among the finalists by two other players in their initial year of eligibility, wide receiver Michael Irvin and late linebacker Derrick Thomas.
The other finalists are Harry Carson, Richard Dent, L.C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey, Bob Kuechenberg, Roger Wehrli, George Young and the two previously announced nominees of the seniors' committee, Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman.From this list, a minimum of three and a maximum of six can be selected. As the article says, Marino and Steve Young are slam dunks (Marino deserves to be a first-ballot enshrinee, I'm not so sure about Young). I could certainly see the esteemed board selecting the two QB's, one of the senior nominees and/or George Young and then calling it a day. If that's the case, Monk, the only player ever to hold the all-time career receptions record that's not in the HOF (excluding, of course, the still-active Jerry Rice) and Grimm, one of the two best guards of the 1980's, will still have to buy tickets to get into the museum.
This certainly doesn't mean that Grimm and/or Monk getting in is impossible. The decision-making process used by the Hall is what's known as BOGSAT, an acronym for Bunch of Guys Sitting Around a Table. Compromises could be made for the sake of getting the discussion over with. For example, a vote for one Pollard or Friedman could be held hostage in exchange for one for Monk. Grimm could sweep in simply on the basis of a good case made by a writer who feels strongly that he should be inducted and nobody can come up with a good counter argument.
Most Redskins fans are anywhere from annoyed to angry that Monk hasn't gotten in yet. There is one scenario, however, that would send them all ballistic:
Irvin in and Monk out.
There is simply no justification for this based on career stats (Monk, Irvin), character, championships (they both have three SB rings, Monk also has an NFC title), or any other HOF criteria one could come up with.
If Irvin gets in and Monk doesn't, it will clearly be due to a media bias. Irvin always freely talked with the press during his career and has a prominent post in the media now with ESPN gig.
My stab at it as of now is that the first scenario I presented, Marino, S. Young, G. Young, and one between Pollard and Friedman, is pretty likely, say a 40% chance. I'd say that a group that includes Monk has a 25% shot, Grimm has about a one in ten chance. The Redskins fan's nightmare scenario, Irvin and no Monk, has about a 5% shot.
If one or both get in, the enshrinement will be on Sunday, August 7, 2005. See you there, and dust off your Hog noses.