Monk: Explaining the Obvious to the Uninformed
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
The reasons that Hall of Fame voters keep finding to exclude Art Monk from the Hall of Fame have gotten more and more ridiculous each year the former Redskin great gets excluded. The absolute worst one I’ve ever heard came from Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated, aka Dr. Z, who came up with this gem in an article on SI.com:
SI.COM: How about Art Monk?
Dr. Z: Monk was hurt by Michael Irvin being eligible this year. It's done alphabetically, and Irvin was presented before Monk. I think that really hurt him.
This is the kind of nonsense that those in favor of Monk’s induction are up against in trying to make the case for Monk. My reaction at the time:
So, Monk is out because “I” comes before “M” in the alphabet? Irvin makes the final six and Monk is voted off the island by sheer luck? The granting of the status of immortality is dependent on such happenstance? Perhaps the bylaws should be amended so that they go in inverse alphabetical order in even-numbered years. If not, how will Monk ever surpass Irvin in the minds of the selectors?
I would assume that it is the solemn duty of each selector to walk into the selection meeting brimming with knowledge about each of the 15 finalists. While there is some discussion, I would think that it would take some new and stunning revelation by someone in the room to swing even a single vote. If the attention span of the selectors is so short that they can’t consider each candidate in his own right, they need to get some new selectors or at least get some ritilan in the room.
The one supposedly rational, lucid argument is that Monk was very good for a long period of time and didn’t have any great seasons (completely ignoring, of course, 1984 when he became the first NFL player to catch 100 passes in a season). If there was a hall of very good, they say, Monk would be in, but he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
This holds absolutely no water. While you can argue about definitions of “great” and “fame”, there is exactly one objective standard for deciding who should be in a sports hall of fame: How does this player compare with players who are already in the Hall of Fame?
Every other player who has held the career receptions record has been elected to the Hall of Fame, including Steve Largent, the man whose record Monk broke. He finished third in receptions in 1978; his next-best season was sixth place. His teams played in a handful of playoff games and never played in a Super Bowl.
OK, Largent did lead the league in receiving yards twice and that’s a nice credential. But what about Charlie Joiner? You talk about someone who made it as a complier of numbers. He played for 18 yards and retired with 750 catches, the record at the time. In a single season, he was never higher than third in receptions, never better than fourth in receiving yards.
The very good for a very long time club in Canton doesn’t include just Largent and Joiner. Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and Dan Dierdorf on the offensive line, quarterback Len Dawson, tight end Jackie Smith, defensive end Jack Youngblood, linebacker Nic Buoniconti, and defensive backs Paul Krause and Lem Barney are other who were recognized for their sustained excellence over a long period of time rather than for a smaller number of dominant season.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to tear down Largent and Joiner and the rest of them to build up Monk. To the contrary, most of them are deserving of having their bronze busts Canton. But if they are in, you have to put Monk in.
If you want to try to do something about the refusal of some members of the committee to do something about this, there are a couple of avenues. Here on this site we have posted contact information for the writers who vote for the HOF. It is up to date to the best of our knowledge. It would be better if your communication had a respectful tone and it’s probably too late to contact anyone who has just a postal address since most of them will be leaving for Detroit on Monday and the balloting will be held next Saturday.
There is also a new effort this year, an online petition at electartmonk.com. They have over 1,000 signatures so far. I don’t know if such a thing will help, but it’s certainly worth a shot.