- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2008

CANTON, Ohio | Amidst a burgundy-and-gold-clad sea of fans, Washington Redskins legends and close friends Art Monk and Darrell Green each became emotional as they accepted their enshrinements into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

“[Hall of Fame defensive end] Deacon Jones said I would cry. You bet your life I’m going to cry,” the 48-year-old Green said before starting to tremble as he mentioned the inspiration that he received from his late parents, Leonard and Gloria. “My parents were the best, and I thank the Lord for them.”

Monk, 50, choked up a little even before he began to speak as the crowd of 16,654 wouldn’t stop cheering for almost five minutes and then broke into a “We Love Monk” chant.

“Seeing the magnitude of all of this and all of you, I appreciate the support,” Monk said. “I’ll always be known as a Redskin. To be standing here among [the Hall of Famers] is an awesome moment in my life. But as great this honor is, it doesn’t really define who I am. …

“Being included into this fraternity is a pretty humbling experience. Growing up, I was never voted the most likely to succeed, never anything about me that would have given anyone the impression that I would’ve played in the NFL, let alone be standing here. From the time I first picked up a football, I fell in love with this game. This is the icing on the cake.”

Monk cited his special bonds with Green and former teammates Charles Mann, Monte Coleman, Tim Johnson and Ken Coffey.

Green also became emotional when discussing his best friends from sixth grade, one of whom died in a car crash when they were in college and the other who committed suicide soon thereafter.

The mention of Bobby Beathard, the Redskins’ general manager who gambled on the swift but small cornerback from Texas A&I (now called Texas A&M University at Kingsville) in the first round of the 1983 draft, also caused Green to wipe away a tear.

Green saluted the Redskins’ fans, saying, “We share this day with all of you.”

He gave special mention to roommates Vernon Dean, Scott Turner and Johnson among a slew of teammates, as well as Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, then the Redskins’ assistant general manager, and Barbara Frye, the secretary to Beathard and successor Charley Casserly.

Like Monk, Green spent much time discussing his profound religious faith.

Green, who retired in 2002 after a record-setting 20 seasons and 54 interceptions with the Redskins, closed with, “At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I belong here. I belong here. I belong here. I belong here because I know what to do with this [fame].”

Green was presented for induction by his son, Jared.

“My father’s been a Hall of Famer for years,” Jared Green said. “The definition of a Hall of Famer is someone who is great at everything. He was a great football player, but he was a better son, brother, father, businessman and most important, a man of God.”

Monk was presented by his son, James.

“Art Monk would show you rather than tell you,” his son said. “He believes his actions speak louder than words. Dad’s greatness never came from his ability to play football, but from [his faith]. The reward for work is the opportunity to do more.”

Perhaps the fastest player in NFL history, Green maintained that world-class speed throughout his career. He was chosen for his seventh and final Pro Bowl in 1997, two months before he turned 38.

Although he was just 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, didn’t play varsity football until his senior year of high school and dropped out of Texas A&I for 18 months after his freshman season, only six men have played in more NFL games than Green’s 295 and only 17 have more interceptions.

Monk, a first-round pick by Washington in 1980, set an NFL record with 106 catches in his fourth season. He set the mark for career catches in 1992, the 13th of his 14 seasons with the Redskins. Both records have since been broken.

Unlike many receivers, Monk wasn’t flashy. He never scored more than eight touchdowns a season and had just two seasons of more than 1,200 yards. But Monk consistently did the unappreciated things that other receivers disliked: moving the chains with catches in traffic and throwing ferocious blocks.

Monk was more of a tight end and a running back in high school and at Syracuse before coming to the Redskins. He missed the team’s victory in Super Bowl XVII with a broken foot and was hobbled by a knee injury in the team’s next Super Bowl win five seasons later.

However, Monk had seven catches for 113 yards (not counting a touchdown that was called back) as the Redskins won their third title in Super Bowl XXVI.

Let go by the Redskins as part of new coach Norv Turner’s housecleaning in 1994, Monk finished up with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. Despite the increased emphasis on the passing game since he retired, Monk is still seventh all-time with 940 catches.

“Both of these men overcame my coaching,” joked inductee Emmitt Thomas, who coached both Monk and Green as an assistant.

Green and Monk bring the number of Redskins enshrined in Canton to 17.

They join their former coach, Joe Gibbs, as well as receivers Mitchell and Charley Taylor, another assistant while Monk and Green were with the Redskins. Running back John Riggins was a teammate of theirs for five years. And linebacker Sam Huff and quarterback Sonny Jurgensen broadcast the team’s games during the Monk and Green era.

The other Redskins notables in the Hall are owner George Preston Marshall, coaches George Allen and Ray Flaherty, quarterback Sammy Baugh, running backs Cliff Battles and Bill Dudley, lineman Turk Edwards, safety Ken Houston and receiver Wayne Millner.

Monk was the seventh receiver of his era to be inducted, joining Michael Irvin, Charlie Joiner, Steve Largent, James Lofton, John Stallworth and Lynn Swann.

Mel Blount, Mike Haynes and Ronnie Lott are the three Hall of Fame defensive backs whose careers overlapped Green’s.

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