The Washington Redskins legends were treated to a sometimes-raucous luncheon given in honor of the Class of 2008 by such previous enshrinees as cornerbacks Lem Barney and Mike Haynes and receivers Ray Berry and Don Maynard.
Finally, following an afternoon news conference, Green, Monk and fellow inductees Fred Dean, Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett and Gary Zimmerman received their yellow Hall of Fame blazers as the guests of honor at the Enshrinees Dinner.
“It’s almost like walking on holy ground,” Monk said. “The reality didn’t really hit until a couple of days ago and even more so as we met with the [previous] Hall of Famers today, hearing about what the Hall of Fame meant to them. Seeing them all in that room together - I am excited about this moment.”
So is Green, whose public tears following his election in February were the subject of some good-spirited teasing at the luncheon from those already enshrined. Green was the last of the six inductees to arrive at the news conference, and he acted like a host of sorts, shaking each classmate’s hand and saying, “Welcome to the Hall of Fame.”
Green is enjoying the Canton experience so much he said he planned to return each year for the enshrinement ceremonies.
“I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t come back,” said the 48-year-old, a seven-time Pro Bowl pick whose 295 games and 20 seasons are Redskins records. “… I’m going to enjoy the whole ride, experience it all.”
The 50-year-old Monk at one point held the NFL records for catches in a career, catches in a season and consecutive games with a catch, and he won election to the Hall on his eighth try.
Monk didn’t begin working on his speech for the Saturday induction ceremony until two weeks ago and didn’t finish until Wednesday. He said he’s more nervous about the induction than he was about his wedding because “the magnitude of this is much grander.”
Green and Monk each chose to be presented Saturday by their sons. Green, one of eight siblings, will be surrounded by his large extended family. He joked that all the short people now in Canton are Greens and said there aren’t any left this weekend in his native Houston.
Green’s diminutive stature gave doubts to Hall of Fame receiver Bobby Mitchell, then the Redskins’ assistant general manager, when the team drafted him in the first round in 1983.
“I thought [general manager] Bobby Beathard was crazy for drafting Darrell,” Mitchell said. “We had drafted Art [in the first round in 1980] because we wanted to get bigger and stronger at receiver, and now we’ve got the secondary going the other way.
“But the day that Darrell first came to Redskin Park, he came down to the locker room. I was the only guy down there. I sat this little guy down and we started to talk. The more we talked, he got bigger and taller in my mind. As he talked about what he wanted, it was obvious to me that this guy had everything except height.”
Mitchell was instantly sold on Monk.
“Bobby told me to go check out Art because I had made the move from running back to receiver that Art was making at Syracuse,” Mitchell said. “At that time, there weren’t that many guys besides me, Charley [Taylor] and Lenny [Moore] who had done that. I thought he could do it, so I wasn’t shocked that he did do well.”