Thursday, November 30, 2006

Big Name Sportsjack Reconsiders Art Monk's Hall of Fame Bid

Peter King at Sports Illustrated, one of the six at-large reps (out of 39 total voters) who contribute to voting for the Hall of Fame, has reconsidered his ill-advised hostility towards one of the very greatest WRs in NFL history: "In some ways I've been part of the problem. Even though Monk retired with the all-time receptions record, I've historically been anti-Monk for several reasons. He played 16 seasons and led his own team in receiving six times; only once was he voted first-team All-Pro. I questioned his impact on a team where the running game and Gary Clark, for many years, were the prime targets to stop by opposing defensive coordinators ... The leadership, the selflessness, the durable productivity ... I decided I should re-think my position."

Those are the arguments against Monk? Very weak. He has more catches than all but the top 4 WRs of all time

King continues: "As I made my rounds of training camps this year, I asked veteran coaches about Monk and the one word that kept coming up was 'unselfish' ... But when I talked to Joe Gibbs on Friday, the one thing that stood out was the body of work we don't see -- the downfield blocking, the quiet leadership, and this: Unlike his louder receiving mates Clark and Ricky Sanders, Monk, according to Gibbs, never once said he wanted the ball more. 'We used him almost as a tight end a lot,' said Gibbs, 'and not only did he do it willingly, he was a great blocker for us. If he'd been a squeaky wheel, who knows how many catches Art would have had. But he cared about one thing -- the team' ."

emphasis mine. A team-first WR? Hunted to extinction.

King admits: "I'd say over the last five years, receiver-wrangling has taken up more than its fair share of time in the meetings. We just can't agree on who belongs. I forget which year it was, but we spent 46 minutes debating the merits of Monk in one meeting. That's the longest debate I recall in my decade-and-a-half at this post ... We've enshrined most of the great eligible quarterbacks from 1980 and on -- Dan Fouts, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman. We've enshrined exactly one of the receivers who played his way into the Hall for what he did after 1980, James Lofton. Eight quarterbacks, one receiver. Isn't that unjust?"

As injust as a toothless man let loose in a peanut brittle warehouse.

King concludes: "Not only did he lead the NFL in all-time receptions when he retired, but he blocked superbly and was the most important locker-room influence on a three-time Super Bowl champion. I'm voting for him ... Add up the total catches of Swann and Stallworth, 873, and you still don't get to [Monk]."

Case closed, right? I just hope King's flip-flop convinces the other Sportsjacks. Or I'll find him, whip him with my belt and steal his tacos.

Notice that he did not explicitly mention that the articulate arguments on Monk's behalf which have appeared regularly on I Dislike Your Favorite Team were not responsible for his Grinch-like change of heart. However, seeing justice done is all the reward I need. Art Monk: 940 receptions, 12,721 yards, 68 TDs, 3 Superbowls. Final votes are cast the day before the Superbowl.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see him coming around, but a selfproclaimed "football expert" shouldn't have known all those things before. He sucks.

Barnyard said...

I have no interest in keeping Art Monk out of the yellow jacket club; he's got good numbers and everyone seems to know his name.

Although one has to wonder if his upper echelon numbers demonstrate durability or excellence. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt and throw out two crap years to begin his career and two crap years to end it, his yearly averages break down like this:

78 rececptions, 1060 yards and 6 TDs (and only because you quoted it too, .25 Superbowls).

(hint: they get less impressive if you include the other four years)

Sounds like a really good possession receiver.

Arguments about an "unselfish" and "team-first" attitude don't help either. They're euphemisms for a good player who works hard, but at the end of the day you still would rather throw to talent like Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders. The "team" guy label gets put on real Hall of Famers because they are leaders who you wouldn't dare deny the ball, not because they were willing to block down field.

I would now like to reiterate that I favor his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. For reasons that are my own.

Badcock said...

So ... averaging nearly 80 catches and over 1,000 yards through ten years isn't impressive?

Football is a team sport, and it is Monk's contribution to his team over his entire career that make him worthy of the Hall. Statistics are a skeletal version of what a player means to his team. On 3rd and 12, Monk always made the tough catch. No jump shot, no throat-slash, no chicken dance. No bullshit. Just great football.

Brett Favre only won one Superbowl and has 265 interceptions in 236 games (1.12 per game), one INT short of tying Tarkenton for 3rd most all-time. Yet his contributions to his team and the sport are what make him a sure first-ballot inductee. Plus those 410 TDs, I suppose.

Barnyard said...

When we're talking about Art Monk we're talking about a very good player who is a borderline hall of famer. Recall that I support his status on the "in" side of the line and do not want to steal his tacos.

When we are talking about Brett Favre the argument begins and ends at the number "three." As in the league's first and only three time MVP.

When you conflate the two it takes Monk to a category he does not belong. Making the tough catch on third and twelve is Favre-like, but Monk seemed to do it without either a genuine affection for his sport or a linebacker's mentality.

I think Phil (notorious Paker hater) said it best when he said "Fuck Brett Favre." Phil's dad (a notorious Redskin hater) used to say "Screw Art Monk." See, they're just in different leagues.

Thanks Phil.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Barnyard.

It is true, my hatred for Brett Favre is singular. I blogged about it after the Bears handed him his first career shut out. It can be read here.

I'm flattered you would used my families varying degrees of dislike to answer the question of a players Hall of Fame worthiness.

But after examining his career, I would put Art Monk in the 'Fuck Art Monk' league. For during his career, his teams handed the Bears play-off losses at home, in two consecutive years. At the time, the Redskins were the only team to have done this, beat a team at home, in the play-offs, two straight years. (In the midninties, the Jaguars performed this feat against the Broncos.) Pre-Brett Favre, these were shattering losses for my young eyes.

Without consulting my Dad, I would have to say, Fuck Art Monk too.

I'm not sure how the NFL's alltime leading reciever at the time of his retirement can be considered borderline. By definition, he was one of the most productive WR's in NFL history. Three MVP's means far less, since it is a popularity contest from begining to end. Kurt Warner and Randell Cunningham have two MVP's to Joe Montana's one. You tell me which of those three QB's you would take.

Badcock said...

Righteousness to Phil. He's right about the MVP award.

If someone were to argue something cogent versus Art Monk, I would love to debate it. The fact is, there is no logical argument against Art Monk being recognized as one of the greatest of all time.

Maybe he didn't do enough chicken dances.

I love football, and I love pro football as the highest manifestation of it. How do you play football?

Walter Payton. Barry Sanders. Art Monk. Richard Dent.
And then some.

Football is about playing through pain. Football is about putting the rest of the team ahead of you. Football is about making the play regardless of how some white sportsjacks decide to vote on your contribution.

Debate Ed "Tool Tall" Jones. Not Art Monk. For fuck's sake. Didn't anyone else watch football from 1980-2006?

Barnyard said...

Art Monk's status as borderline is a fairly objective fact: he has been Hall of Fame eligible for six years and is still without a urine-colored jacket.

Favre will be in the Hall of Fame his first year of eligibility. No question (p.s. Players don't get "popular" because they are good looking or their dad has a lot of money. Kurt Warner is an anomoly because of he meteoric rise and matching fall, but Cunningham is a Hall of Famer. Anyone who is MVP of the league once will at least be included in any HOF conversation; he who is MVP thrice is in. Period.).

So I repeat: Fuck Brett Favre, Screw Art Monk.

Art Monk had years when his reception totals were 35, 47, 38, 46, 41, 46 and 6. That's nearly half of the years he was in the league where he had fewer than 50 receptions. While I don't doubt he did a great job of blocking downfield those years and was a super "team-first" guy, the numbers dictate that he was a middle of the pack receiver for almost half of his career. Only twice did have more than 90 catches in a season, five times over 1,000 receiving yards and never double-digit touchdowns.

I ask the same question I asked up the page: are Monk's great career numbers the product of excellence or durability. Middle of the pack receiving numbers for almost half a career strongly suggests durability.

Again, I agree he should get in, but he ain't a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

Brett Favre is a first ballet HOF, no question.

I don't think you can discount favoritism or personal bias in HOF balleting or MVP voting. Michael Irvin may be suffering from disfavor for being a crackhead, despite having some very good numbers. Also, the definition is vague at best. Is it the most valuable player to their team, as some might argue? Who could have ever been more valuable to their team than Brett Favre all these years? Or is it, the best player in the league who had the best season?

Randall Cunningham is a HOF? 207 career TD passes in 16 seasons, for an average of just over 12 a season. He only passed for 20 or more 5 times, 30 twice, in 16 years. No Super Bowls. At first glance, he seems like a reach at best. Joe Theisman has an MVP, would you include him in a HOF conversation? Rich Gannon?

Without being sure of the answer, isn't durability an important ingrediant in exellence? It is their whole career they are being judged on. Their entire body of work?

I ask you, IDYFT, what is a Hall Of Famer?

Art Monk celebration