- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2008

Canton, Ohio, on Saturday will be transformed into a Redskins Woodstock.

Two of Washington’s most beloved athletes - Art Monk and Darrell Green - will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This will be one of those treasured days for fans, a day when they can invest their emotion in the team and not be disappointed.

This is a celebration of every time Monk pulled down a third-and-long pass to keep a drive going, of every time Green shut down the opposition’s best receiver. It is a day of glorious memories.

How to put those memories into words will be the challenge for the two former Redskins players.

It’s a challenge that should come easy for Green, a man who likes to talk. He might have to be put on a clock to keep the ceremony moving.

The challenge likely will be tougher for Monk than trying to beat Mike Haynes on an end zone pass.

Monk’s induction speech may be memorable if only for its brevity: “Thank you.”

Anything more than that would be memorable for its loquaciousness, given the silence Monk maintained throughout his career.

The speech is, though, a defining moment for a player - and no easy job for an inductee.

Redskins legend Sammy Baugh, part of the first class in the Hall in 1963, gave a short speech that consisted primarily of thanking George Preston Marshall, the club’s cantankerous owner and founder who at the time was ill in Georgetown University Hospital.

“To me, this is a day that I’d like to pay my respects to one of the finest men I’ve ever been in contact with, Mr. George Preston Marshall, president of the Washington Redskins,” Baugh said. “I had the privilege of playing for his team for 16 years. I learned to respect Mr. Marshall. I’ve learned to love Mr. Marshall.”

Twenty years later, the Redskins’ Bobby Mitchell and Sonny Jurgensen were inducted into Canton in the class of 1983. Both were introduced by Edward Bennett Williams.

Mitchell spoke of the day he was traded to the Redskins in 1962 from the Cleveland Browns for rookie Ernie Davis, who would be dead a year later from leukemia.

“I was fortunate to be in the backfield with the great Jim Brown,” Mitchell said. “My first four years were, therefore, very easy, because it was Jim Brown up the middle, Jim Brown to the left, Jim Brown to the right and occasionally a pitch out to Bobby Mitchell.

“I had a great day and a sad day. I was traded to the Washington Redskins, which started a very beautiful association with Bill McPeak and some great athletes. We didn’t win a lot of games, but we cared about each other. I was in a city that cared about Bobby Mitchell, and as Mr. Marshall said to me, ‘We are taking you out of the shadow of Jim Brown,’ and that was right, because I had some good years after that.”

Jurgensen played 18 seasons - 11 with the Redskins - and one season he spoke of with fondness was the Vince Lombardi season of 1969, the year the culture of the Redskins changed from losing to winning.

“If I had to pick out one highlight it would have to be the year 1969, out of all the things that happened to me in football,” Jurgensen said. “It was the year under Vince Lombardi. I never worked so hard and was in better condition. It was the first year I played and the only year I played without the back hitting my stomach. I was never better prepared nor did I have more fun than that one year.”

The next year, Charley Taylor took the time to thank Redskins fans for their passion. “You know the great game of professional football would not be what it is today if it wouldn’t be for you fans out there,” Taylor said. “I would like to say that I had some of the greatest and most moral support that one player could have in a lifetime in Washington. I would like to thank you for spending 13 years with me. You made it a pleasure to be in Washington.”

Then came 1992 and the induction of John Riggins, and, of course, the drum major in the corps of different drummers didn’t disappoint.

Riggins - introduced by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue - didn’t mention any particular moments or influences in his football career, save for his four children. What he did was recite a poem called “The Law of the Yukon,” which Riggins said he believed illustrated “the game that we play.” It concluded with, “Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain, this is the Will of the Yukon - lo, how she makes it plain.”

Just like a Hallmark card.

Monk and Green will try to come up with their own versions of what this moment means to them, of the route that took them to Canton.

Whatever they say, though, their actions speak for themselves. That’s why Darrell Green and Art Monk will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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