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Immortality on hold (warning, this will tick you off)

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Old 08-06-2004, 08:17 PM   #1
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Immortality on hold (warning, this will tick you off)

http://espn.go.com/classic/s/2004/0805/1852886.html

As Barry Sanders and John Elway bask in the glow of the hideously colored yet still oddly drab yellow blazers they will wear when inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Art Monk will be home again, waiting for a call that may never come.

So will Harry Carson, who is so unhappy at having been passed over so often that he has allegedly expressed his unhappiness with the process to the Hall officials themselves.

Art Monk did make it to 1,000 catches, but he did have more than 1,000 yards receiving five times in his career.


And then there are Steve Young, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman and Reggie White, the next four slam-dunks in the Hall of Fame queue.
Not that any of this has anything to do with Sanders or Elway, whose nominating speeches last January were the typical state-the-name-and-then-sit-down specials, or Carl Eller or Bob Brown, both of whom thought they had been forgotten by the panel, and whose elections came as surprises.

This is life on the cusp of immortality, more or less. Some are born to it, others have to earn it, and still more don't get there even when it seems like they've done plenty.

The question that arises, though, is whether plenty is ever enough.

Carson has credentials worthy of any Hall of Fame debate, although the outrage over his annual omission seems to taper off quickly once the New York skyline disappears from the rear view mirror.

Monk's name has been brought up several times, with the leading argument being his 940 receptions and his noticeable contributions in Super Bowl XXVI (the one where the Redskins dope-slapped the Broncos). And yet his candidacy seems to have stalled too.

This does not bode particularly well for, say, Michael Irvin, who is eligible this year, or for Andre Reed, who comes up next, or for Tim Brown, still looking to keep his day job even after 1,000 catches and being released by the Raiders this week. Jerry Rice is, of course, a different story.

Which brings us to the Hall of Fame selection process itself, which is just arcane enough (39 people in a room, one from each of the 32 NFL cities, the president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and six at-large voters), just secretive enough (not even the voters know who got how many votes) and just capricious enough (a bad presentation in the room on Super Bowl Eve can doom a candidate, just as a really good one can elevate him) to make everyone scratch their heads in wonder at the process, and the result.

Now nobody in their right mind would argue against Sanders or Elway's induction, and those old enough to remember football P.M. (Pre-Madden) would cheerfully vouch for Brown and Eller as well. Nobody snuck in through the service entrance, is what we're saying here.

But Monk is the most curious case, because if his numbers say no, then it's hard to see a much more compelling case for Irvin, Reed or Brown. It is almost as if 900 catches is the 500-homer plateau in baseball -- not nearly as impressive as you would think it should be.

It isn't as though his case hasn't been made effectively or forcefully enough (voters on both sides agree they have gotten the full measure of Monk's body of work). Or for that matter, that Carson's C.V. has been properly presented.

Still, they wait, as do Rayfield Wright, Lester Hayes, Jim Marshall, Bob Hayes and a growing backlog of others who will find that the required 32 votes may as well be 32 million. As Halls of Fame go, this one is far tougher to crowbar into than the basketball or hockey versions, and only slightly less rigorous than baseball's.

The Hall might be better served by a more open policy, one in which the voters must account for their votes, and that the final vote totals are released. Then we would know just how close Monk or Carson are to actual inclusion. For that matter, so would they.

This would be particularly helpful given that after Young and Marino next time, and Aikman the year after, there are no slam-dunks. Not Deion Sanders. Not Warren Moon. Not Thurman Thomas. Nor any of the massive human clot of previously considered candidates who didn't make their nut. This isn't going to get easier for them, but harder.

And maybe that's as it should be, some argue. The Hall of Fame ought to be the final measure of a man's career, and it ought to be a high bar to clear. Really high.

But for those still with their faces pressed against the window in Canton, Ohio, the question of how high that bar really is remains a mystery.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com
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Old 08-06-2004, 08:59 PM   #2
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Monk was a great player, and I think players that shouldn't get chosen above him, however I'm not sure if he is a shoe in for the HoF. Most non-skins fans know of Monk, but don't hold him in quite the same regard we do.
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Old 08-07-2004, 09:18 PM   #3
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How many receivers have over 900 receptions though? Is it just Brown and Rice that do?
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Old 08-07-2004, 09:27 PM   #4
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Cris Carter finished with over 1,000 and Andre Reed has 900+, not sure how many but I know he has more than Monk

Of the top 10 receivers of all time, 5 have played with the Redskins at some point: Reed, Monk, Irving Fryar, Larry Centers, and Henry Ellard
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Old 08-07-2004, 10:00 PM   #5
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Here's the top 20 all-time

http://www.profootballhof.com/histor.../receivers.jsp
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Old 08-07-2004, 11:13 PM   #6
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that'd be #4, 5, 6, 7, and 10.
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Old 08-07-2004, 11:33 PM   #7
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I would have never guessed Terance Mathis in the top 20 all time
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Old 08-08-2004, 12:34 AM   #8
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Look at where Harrison is, he's got a great shot at climbing pretty high the way he's going. He has a legit shot at 1000.
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Old 08-08-2004, 12:37 AM   #9
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Mathis is a surprise, I'm also kinda surprised to see McCardell in there. Some people just sneak up on ya I guess.

Check out the stats on Mathis, 8 seasons of at least 50 catches, and one 100+ catch season too.

http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/1189
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Old 08-08-2004, 09:48 PM   #10
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Art Monk was probably in the top 3 receivers ever when he hung it up. He was the first man to catch 100 balls in a season and he even did it twice. Not to mention 5th all time in receptions. He belongs in the Hall.
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Old 08-09-2004, 08:10 AM   #11
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The thing is, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are both in who have far less that Art Monk in terms of numbers. But since they were part of that magical Steelers dynasty, they basically get a free pass. Perhaps it's because they shined in the Super Bowl.

I think eventually Monk will get in. The article itself states that the issue simply will not go away especially with Andre Reed and Michael Irvin coming up for eligibility.
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Old 08-09-2004, 09:31 AM   #12
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It is an outrage that Monk is not in the Hall. If I could I would have held up a "42-10" sign at Elway's induction in protest of Monk not being inducted.

I hope that the sportswriters have some secret plan to vote in Darrell and Art in the same class and they are just waiting for Darrell to become eligible.
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Old 08-09-2004, 10:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboyhater
It is an outrage that Monk is not in the Hall. If I could I would have held up a "42-10" sign at Elway's induction in protest of Monk not being inducted.

I hope that the sportswriters have some secret plan to vote in Darrell and Art in the same class and they are just waiting for Darrell to become eligible.
Interesting theory. It would be cool to have both of them inducted at the same time. However, I believe that Art Monk will get in there eventually, its just that this year's class had some really heavy hitters.
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Old 08-09-2004, 01:24 PM   #14
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First of all, I believe Art Monk belongs in the HoF. If I had a vote, I would support him.

One thing working against him is that the voters seem to overvalue players who were on championship/playoff teams that had some "cachet". The Steelers' of the 70s were great teams but some of the players in the HoF from those teams do not measure up to the standards of players who have not been inducted. Now that Carl Eller is in the Hall, look for a big push to get Jim Marshall in there soon.

Monk's teams that appeared in 4 Super Bowls and won 3 of them had no national "presence". "The Hogs" were a local phenomenon; "The Diesel" didn't have a national following; "The Fun Bunch" was annoying back in its time even though it would hardly be considered "cutting edge" today. So Monk languishes...

Another thing working against him (and others mentioned in Ratto's column) is that the NFL HoF tries to limit the number of inductees each hear so that you rarely have an induction class of 8 or 10. The thinking is that by limiting numbers, you keep out the marginal selections. Oops, I guess that one did not work out quite right.

A third thing working against Monk is that he was never a "go to guy" for the writers/broadcasters. Monk was and is a quiet, introspective and reflective man; he had no bombast; he was not a journalist's dream. And who does the voting on HoF entry???

A fourth thing that is held against Monk is that he did not catch a lot of TD passes. Of course, those 950 or so catches did set up a lot of first downs that led to TDs scored by others, but I guess that's just a detail.

Cowboyhater, do not be surprised if Monk gets a big push the year Darrell Green is eligible. That is the kind of thing that can work with these voters because it gives them sone great storylines...
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Old 08-09-2004, 01:39 PM   #15
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I'm going to channel the spirit of SportsCurmudgeon for a second here and ask: Who's to say Darrell Green belongs in the Hall of Fame himself?

I used to think he was a lock. A first-ballot lock no less. 20 years with one team. 17th all-time in INTs, 3 SB wins. But if it's been this hard for Monk to make it I admit I have my doubts about Green getting in, or at least easily getting in
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