- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

Art Monk was neither flashy nor egomaniacal, two traits that seemingly define many of the leading wide receivers in the NFL today.

Monk’s lack of pretense and verbiage contributed to the impression that he merely was a dependable wide receiver, not an exceptional one, which left him at the door of the Hall of Fame until his eighth attempt last winter.

His value to the Redskins extended beyond the raw numbers, although those were impressive enough at the time of his retirement following the 1995 season. He caught 940 passes in 16 seasons to eclipse Steve Largent’s all-time mark before he, too, was passed.

Monk was an exceptional downfield blocker, unafraid to run pass routes over the middle and inclined to fight for the extra yard after the initial hit. He had good size, soft hands and was often the principal third-down target who preserved a drive.

He was selfless, too, perhaps to a fault, as Joe Gibbs noted. He was not one to lobby for more throws or more post routes. He did as he was instructed because of his belief in the team.

Hall of Fame voters struggled with Monk because durability is not as easy to measure as a four- or five-season run of statistical excellence.

Even while he was playing and accumulating sturdy numbers, Monk was often overshadowed by those in the midst of career seasons.

Monk was selected to only three Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro choice just once.

His defining season was 1984, when he finished with a then-record 106 receptions, 1,372 yards and seven touchdowns. Yet he had nine seasons in which he caught more than 50 passes, a consistency that came to be held against him.

He was a possession receiver, the best there ever was, but with a yards-per-catch average that reflected it. His 68 career touchdowns were not what they might have been because of the efficiency of the Hogs in goal-line situations and the presence of wide receivers Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.

In their heyday, the Gibbs-led Redskins spread the wealth to the consternation of the opposition. Not that Monk ever protested. Not that he ever complained after being left on the steps of the Hall of Fame on seven occasions.

The White Plains, N.Y., native said he never dreamed of playing in the NFL as a youth. That, of course, goes with the man who competed as if he were devoid of an ego.

His unpretentious professionalism became all the more appealing as more and more NFL players resorted to choreographed celebrations even after completing the most basic plays.

Monk refused to rip off his helmet to show glee or disgust. Such an action just might bring more attention to him, which was the last thing he wanted.

Monk was a notoriously private person, not given to chattiness even around those who had been his teammates for years. Clark once said that a nod from Monk represented an outpouring of communication.

And the local media never pushed Monk on his reticence because of the respect he commanded and the understanding he was not trying to be rude.

His Hall of Fame induction remarks just might begin and end with, “Thank you.”

Whatever his remarks are, they will be brief.

It might have taken Monk too long to have his day in Canton, Ohio, but supporters of the Redskins never waffled on his worth. In a poll to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the franchise, fans voted Monk the best player in the team’s history. That distinction, fair or not to the franchise’s other luminaries, reflected the Washington region’s high regard for Monk both as a player and person.

At least now the Washington region no longer has to question the subjective thought process of the Hall of Fame voters, for Monk’s day, however late, has arrived.

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