- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

SAN DIEGO Art Monk was the antithesis of current receivers like Keyshawn "Just Throw Me the Ball" Johnson, Randy "I Play Hard When I Feel Like It" Moss and Terrell "Watch Me Sign This" Owens.

At one point in 1992, Monk held NFL records for catches in a career, a season and consecutive games. But those accomplishments were never the point for Monk, who starred for the Washington Redskins from 1980 to 1993.

Washington, which hadn't reached the postseason in the three years before his arrival as its top draft pick out of Syracuse, got there eight times during his 14 seasons. The Redskins have been to the playoffs just once in the nine years since they cut Monk in 1994.

"A lot of guys have it backwards," Monk once said. "They want to do well and hope their team does well. I believed if the team did well, the individual things would take care of themselves."

Now the greatest "individual thing" of all could happen for Monk today. He is a finalist for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This is the third straight year Monk has been a finalist, and his chances probably have never been better. Between four and seven of the 15 finalists will be elected, and only former Los Angeles Raiders/Kansas City Chiefs running back Marcus Allen is considered a lock.

Also on the ballot are defensive ends Elvin Bethea and Claude Humphrey, linebackers Harry Carson and Randy Gradishar, guards Joe DeLamielleure and Bob Kuchechenberg, cornerback Lester Hayes, receiver James Lofton, quarterback Ken Stabler, coach Hank Stram, owner Ralph Wilson, general manager George Young and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman.

Monk's three Pro Bowls were the fewest of the 12 eligible players, but only Stram could match his three championships. And though the NFL has become pass-happy since Monk retired in 1995 after a year with the New York Jets and another with Philadelphia, he's still fifth all time with 940 catches and ninth with 12,721 receiving yards.

"Art had great hands, ran great routes and was a big, physical receiver who could surprise you with his speed," said Tampa Bay receiver Keenan McCardell, Monk's teammate in 1991. "He caught every ball that was thrown to him. I learned a lot from Art. He was the ultimate competitor, a no-nonsense guy. I loved the way Art prepared himself. He was always about business. He didn't look for a lot of press. He just did what he was supposed to do."

Typically, Monk set the season record of 106 catches by making clutch grab after clutch grab during the game-winning drive that clinched the NFC East title for the Redskins in the 1984 finale against St. Louis.

Not counting safety Paul Krause, who spent most of his career with Minnesota, the last Redskins player elected to the Hall of Fame was running back John Riggins in 1992. Coaches Joe Gibbs (1996) and George Allen (2002) have been chosen in the interim.

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