- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2008

Let’s forget about the Redskins’ uncertain future for the moment and sneak a peak at their not-so-distant glorious past. Three mainstays of their Super Bowl years — Darrell Green, Art Monk and Russ Grimm — should join coach Joe Gibbs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And the sooner the better, meaning Feb. 2 in Phoenix, when assorted media selectors make their choices on the eve of Super Bowl Whatever.

It’s equally sad and ludicrous that John Riggins is the only member of Gibbs’ three championship teams enshrined, particularly since he played only on the first of them. If Joe feels lonely whenever he visits the place, you certainly can’t blame him.

Some other perennially powerful outfits practically have their own rooms in Canton — Lombardi’s Packers, Noll’s Steelers, Shula’s Dolphins, Landry’s Cowboys — and why shouldn’t there be a burgundy and gold section, too?

No reason at all, so let’s get to it.

For some reason, pigskin enshrinement doesn’t seem as significant as validation at Cooperstown. Maybe that’s because baseball is more of an individual sport — or maybe just because the baseball shrine has been around a lot longer, even if everybody knows the game wasn’t really invented (there or anywhere else).

Oddly, though, Canton does a much more impressive job of hailing heroes. Each Hall of Famer has his own bust, plus mementos and pictures from his career. At Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame section actually is the dullest part of the building, merely a series of plaques bearing stilted language and often unrecognizable facial renderings.

Of course, what matters most is the idea of a Hall of Fame. The first time I saw Cooperstown, in the mid-‘60s, I was totally disillusioned. In those days, it was simply a small building with no wings, located on Main Street in a tiny upstate New York village. Somehow it seemed as though the entrance should have been two pearly gates above which the faces of Ruth, Cobb, Johnson and Mathewson, et al, gleamed.

Sorry for the digression. Let’s get back to Messrs. Green, Monk and Grimm and why they belong. Of the three, I suspect Green has the best chance of being anointed next month, and this in his first year of eligibility.

Everybody loves a little man who plays big, and Darrell spent 20 years smacking down various beefier opponents in the Redskins’ secondary. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, the last time at age 37, and he played until he was 42. Plus, his customarily sunny disposition and work in the community made him one of the most beloved Redskins ever.

Monk is a much iffier prospect, despite his records upon retirement of 940 career catches and 106 in a single season. He has been nominated but not elected seven times, so this might be a case of now or never. Two negatives work against him: his reticence with the media and a perception that he was basically a possession receiver rather than a big-play guy.

That might not be quite fair, but it is what it is.

Grimm, a former Redskins assistant coach and now assistant head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, probably has the least chance. His fame, such as it were, came as a member of Joe Bugel’s Hogs in the days before free agency when stalwart offensive linemen stayed and drank together year after year. Besides, Russ hasn’t played since 1991, making him practically an NFL pioneer to many of today’s younger observers.

A total of 17 finalists are up for election this time around, and I’d like to see all three ex-Redskins make it. Twenty-one men with ties to the Redskins are in Canton, but three of them earned their spurs in other towns — Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau in Green Bay, Otto Graham in Cleveland.

Another one, team founder George Preston Marshall, shouldn’t be there at all. Sure, George was a big mover and shaker in the ‘30s and ‘40s, but his segregation policies did great damage to his team and to the NFL in general. Some things are totally unforgivable.

It remains to be seen whether any or all of the ex-Redskins get enough votes to claim Canton as a second home, but let’s keep our fingers crossed. After a season of tragedy and turmoil, this franchise deserves some positive news.

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