End Voter Fraud

For some reason the Hall of Fame voters haven't liked him. They point to his touchdowns, which lag behind others at his position. They point to his only having played in three Pro Bowls as further proof he wasn't great. They'll even point to his teammates, such as Gary Clark, as evidence he wasn't even the best on his team.

What they don't do is talk to those who worked alongside Art Monk. Nor those who employed him. If they did, this nonsense about whether or not Monk belonged in the Hall would end. The vote will be taken Saturday and should be known by early afternoon. Russ Grimm also is among the final 15 and merits strong consideration. But not as much as Monk.

Let's recap his numbers: 940 catches, including 888 with the Redskins; 68 touchdowns; three Pro Bowls, 104 catches in 1984 -- the first pro receiver to do so in 20 years. When he retired, no one had caught more passes. He also once caught a pass in 183 straight games. He mastered the art of consistency and delivered on third downs with regularity. In Joe Gibbs' offense, sustaining drives is the key. Monk did just that. In some ways, he's the football equivalent of a Tony Gwynn, a guy who probably could have provided more power but who did what his team needed. And didn't complain about his role. Imagine that.

But to look only at the numbers misses the man. Monk meant so much more to the Redskins than just being a receiver. He was a blocker, sometimes staying in for extra protection. He set a tone for the 1980s with his work ethic, pulling in other players. Not everyone could stay with him during his workouts, but those who did became better.

''I'd run with him over at Mason,'' former Redskins running back Earnest Byner said. ''It was a different level of workout for me. We'd also do extra work after practice in training camp. We'd run a mile, but we had to do it in a certain time. When we were in meetings, and he'd already been in this offense seven, eight years, he took notes like he was a rookie.''

Monk, as everyone knows, rarely talked with the media. Maybe for the voters it's easier to reject someone they don't really know. There was no animosity on Monk's part -- Darrell Green once recalled driving home with him from Carlisle in silence. Even now Monk is quiet. He's partners with Charles Mann in a company and Mann's mother is their receptionist. After a few weeks she told her son that she didn't think Monk liked her because he never spoke to her.

Her son's reply: ''That's who he is.''

I've rarely dealt with Monk, talking to him a couple of times and usually at some Redskins function. I tried to call him for a book I wrote this past fall, but he never returned my calls. I wasn't pleased; I wasn't offended either.

But this is also who he is, according to those who played with him or worked here at the same time:

Joe Theismann: ''Art Monk was as great a player as a James Lofton, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth. Art didn't have the spectacular play that everyone can focus on, like Lynn Swann's catches in the Super Bowl. But you tell people Art had three times as many catches as Swann and they don't realize that.

''Art would wear a chain with a dollar sign and I called him Big Money because he was money for us. He was my favorite receiver. I've always described Art this way: If you could spend a day with Art Monk, your life would improve by 10 percent because of the quality of the man, the work ethic, the intelligence. I've never known a better football player.''

Charley Casserly: ''He was Mr. Consistency, on and off the field. He was the Joe Dimaggio of the Redskins. He was a quiet, classy guy who went out and did his job and made it look easy. He should be in the Hall of Fame and it's wrong that he's not. They get into how many Pro Bowls and how many dominating games did you have? My counter is that when he retired from the game he had the longest consecutive streak of catching passes of anyone in football [183] and he had the most receptions. He did it without being featured. He caught 100 balls when no one would catch 100 balls.''

Joe Gibbs: ''Art was unselfish. We asked him to block and run those inside routes. If we had played him on the outside, he would have had more touchdowns.''

Mark Rypien: ''Art is the greatest player I ever played with. It was his unbelievable commitment to himself and to us.''

End this nonsense now. Put Monk where he belongs: in the Hall of Fame.

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