Where does one start when describing the career of #81? Art Monk was the model of consistency during his tenure with the Redskins. In his fourteen seasons with the team, and sixteen in the NFL, he caught at least one touchdown in fifteen consecutive seasons. He retired in 1995 as the NFL receptions leader with 940 catches . As a first round pick in 1980, he earned All-Rookie honors with 58 catches, and made the Pro Bowl following the 1984, 1985, and 1986 seasons. He was the first player in NFL history to make a reception in 183 consecutive games, the first player to have more than 102 catches in a season, and the first player to have over 900 catches in a career.
Even better, the Redskins were perpetual playoff contenders while he was in Burgundy and Gold. They won three Super Bowls during his career and only missed the post-season three times. Along with Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, he formed one third of "The Posse" during the late 80’s and early 90’s. In 1989, "The Posse" were the first three receivers on one team in NFL history to each finish with 1,000 yards. While he was not as flashy as the other two, if the Redskins needed a first down they always seemed to look in his direction. He was a tall, strong, dependable receiver and also a fantastic run blocker.
16 Seasons, 940 Rec’s, 12,721 Rec Yards, 68 Td’s, 1 Fumble (and no lost Fumbles)
One reason it took Monk thirteen years to get into the Hall of Fame, supposedly, was because he had no signature moment. He did not have a "wow" play necessarily, but was just Steady Eddy. He was a soft-spoken player who did not seek out the spotlight, flying under the radar as much as possible for someone who put up such impressive stats. Some football analysts have compared him to baseball’s Cal Ripken, who just checked in day after day and did what was expected of him for many years.
Preparing for this piece, three memories came to mind. The first was when Monk broke Steve Largent’s receptions record on October 12, 1992 on Monday Night Football against the Broncos. The game was stopped as his teammates picked him up and paraded him around RFK for a few minutes. Inexplicably, I could not find any footage of this catch.
The second memory I had of him was a personal experience. In early 2006, I ran into Monk at an Office Depot in Northern Virginia. As I walked into the store, I looked to my left and saw him near the printers talking to someone else who I did not recognize. My mind immediately started racing about how I should handle the situation. Options included doing nothing and leaving him alone, asking for a picture and an autograph or just going up to him and shaking his hand. I settled on the last option, as I figured I may never get the opportunity again. In my adult lifetime, I have had two occasions in which I was so nervous to do something that my knees literally started shaking. The first was when I asked my wife to marry me. The second, in what was even a surprise to me, was when I walked up to Monk that day and interrupted his conversation. At first he looked at me confused, but then as I explained to him what a huge fan I was and thanked him for the memories, a big smile came over his face. He shook my hand and thanked me for the kind words. I got out one more sentence about hoping he got into the Hall of Fame soon and then scurried off like a teenage girl who had just met Justin Bieber. I’ll never forget how gracious he was to a fan who had just interrupted him in a conversation while he shopped for printers. I’m not even sure if I got what I went to Office Deport to buy, as I immediately ran to my car and called everyone I could think of afterwards.
The third memory was when Monk did finally get into the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2008. One more record was broken when he received a four and a half minute standing ovation after being introduced. That, I have footage of:
4 Minutes (via bigdog77s)
For more than just his stats, Monk will always be a beloved figure in DC. Not only for being a part of teams that stole the heart of the town with their success, but also for the workman-like way he went about his business. With all of the prima donnas in the league now, especially at the wide receiver position, Monk represented the blue collar player who always let his play on the field do the talking, and quietly had a Hall of Fame career.