First let me preface to say that yes, this is still a Washington Redskins Website. We're interrupting normal Redskins postings ever so briefly to discuss Art Monk at length because he was and remains a Redskin and is important to every fan of this franchise. For a comprehensive website devoted to Art Monk's Hall of Fame bid, you cannot do better than The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign or else Monk 4 The Hall (which has the famous video).
Dr. Z: My feeling is that Monk was a great player. But when you played the Redskins, he was not the guy you had to stop. He was a very functional player. A great team guy. But I liked two wideouts better this year. Irvin and Andre Reed.
Will the improvement of receivers' statistics in recent years hurt Monk's chances of making it in the future?
Oh yeah. I think his best chance might have been when he first came on the ballot, because he was still near the top of the all-time lists then, but he' falling.
We're responding to these criticisms now. The latter part of the quote confirms my suspicions that Art Monk's snubbing this year has a certain kind of terrifying finality to it. This was the chance. I'm eating my keyboard.
But let's discuss this idea of Art Monk not being the guy to stop, which of course misses the point. He was the guy to stop. That opposing defenses didn't stop him was why he constantly moved chains, why this team went 134-82 while he was a Redskin (including 47-26 before Gary Clark joined the team) and went to 4 Superbowls, winning 3 of them.
Anyone who tries to evaluate the success of the Redskins rushing game in that same era -- and make no mistake this was a rushing team which makes Monk's incredible numbers all the more impressive -- without considering Monk's contribution, means that Monk is not being (to quote Len Pasquarelli, which I do at my own risk) "discussed with great care and diligence by a committee that collectively takes it charge very seriously." More seriously than editing, I hope.
But back to the original question, if Dr. Z or anyone else wants to use this insane litmus test of "guy to stopishness", then let's wonder whether it was Lynn Swann or else John Stallworth that opposing defenses "had to stop" in the 70s? The answer is that they "had to stop" them both but couldn't, which is why that team experienced success unparalleled perhaps but once a decade. Teams failed to stop Art Monk because they couldn't, not for a lack of effort or precision. Three Rings later...
Yes, Art Monk happened to have a great teammate in Gary Clark. But lets not forget that Art Monk played 5 years (over a third of his tenure in Washington) without Clark. He experienced his most successful years with Clark. And he was the "go to receiver" over Clark (as measured by receptions) in 1985, 1988, 1989, and 1991. And in his "off" years he was never significantly behind Clark except when injured for large portions of the season.
This "had to stop" metric is crazy, as it doesn't consider the impact a Monk had on the rest of the offense. He was a complete receiver and could make crucial short catches, chain moving mid ranges, and go long as well. You had to cover the entire field from him. He blocked well and was a leader through example, heightening the play of not only his fellow receivers but all teammates (and coaches).
This point was made best by Gary Clark, when he said: "We all want to be the best receiver on the team, but we know that Art Monk is."
But what would he know about it? Er...