George Allen, who returned the Redskins to greatness in the 1970s, and Art Monk, who set many NFL receiving records with Washington, have survived the cut from the initial 71 nominees to the 15 now eligible for this year’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As the Seniors Committee nominee, Allen automatically will be one of the finalists. Allen arrived from the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 and guided a Washington team that hadn’t been in the playoffs in 26 years to five postseason berths in seven seasons.
His greatest moment came on New Year’s Eve 1972 as the Redskins’ “Over The Hill Gang” crushed the hated Dallas Cowboys 26-3 to win the NFC Championship and advance to their first Super Bowl
Ironically, Allen died 18 years later to the day. One of his sons, George, is now a United States Senator from Virginia. Another, Bruce, is the senior assistant to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Monk established since-broken league records for catches in a career, season and consecutive games during his 14 years with the Redskins. Washington’s top pick in the 1980 draft out of Syracuse, Monk remains the team leader with 888 catches and 12,026 receiving yards. Only Darrell Green and Monte Coleman played more games as a Redskin than Monk’s 205. Monk made the Hall of Fame cut to 15 nominees last year in his first year of eligibility but wasn’t part of the final seven.
Art Modell, owner of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, also is among this year’s 15 nominees. Modell, who was instrumental in the establishment of the NFL as the dominant force in sports television, bought the Cleveland Browns in 1961. He moved the team to Baltimore in 1996, a decision that sparked outrage in Ohio and led NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to promise Cleveland an expansion team that began play in 1998.
The always taciturn Monk couldn’t be reached for comment. Modell was “humbled and flattered beyond words.”
The only newly eligible nominee among the 15 is Jim Kelly, who quarterbacked Buffalo to four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s. Since nominees must be retired, former New York Giants, New England and New York Jets coach Bill Parcells would be eliminated from consideration if, as expected, he fills the vacancy in Tampa Bay before the election. The Hall of Fame voters would choose a replacement candidate if Parcells comes off the ballot.
Former Pittsburgh defensive end L.C. Greenwood, who has been eligible for 16 years, is the nominee who has been waiting the longest for enshrinement. Between four and seven candidates will be elected Feb. 2, with enshrinement set for Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.
Other nominees include Greenwood’s ex-teammates, safety Donnie Shell and receiver John Stallworth; former Giants linebacker Harry Carson; a trio of ex-Raiders, tight end Dave Casper, punter Ray Guy and cornerback Lester Hayes; former Miami guard Bob Kuechenberg, ex-Chicago defensive tackle Dan Hampton; and former Green Bay receiver James Lofton.