Dereliction of Duty

By Tom Donelson
Updated: February 6, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — When Art Monk retired in 1985 it was as the NFL’s all-time leading pass receiver, having caught a pass in over 180 straight games. He held the single season record for reception and was part of four Super Bowl teams, three of which ended in victory.

And he also played on a run first team and never had a hall of fame quarterback throwing in his direction. Once again the media failed to do their duty and elect this great player to the Hall of Fame.

Intriguing enough, Michael Irvin managed to get elected to the Hall of Fame, being the third player of the great Cowboys team of the 1990’s. I have no problem with Irvin induction into the Hall of Fame but there is no way that Irvin deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and Monk not.

Monk caught nearly 200 more passes, scored more touchdowns and ended up with yardages with his catches. The only areas that Irvin has an advantage were in yards per catch.

The 90’s Cowboys have managed to have three players voted in the Hall of Fame but there is only one player from the Redskins team of the 80’s and the early 90’s — John Riggins.

Riggins’ career was two thirds over when he played for those Redskins team. Somehow football writers have ignored some of the best players of the 80’s from one of the best franchise in that period. It is as if these great players and teams got lost in the pages of NFL history.

The case for Art Monk is overwhelming. Elected to the 1980’s all-decade team, Monk was considered to one of the elite receivers of that decade along with James Lofton, Steve Largent and Jerry Rice.

Lofton and Largent are already in the Hall of Fame and Rice will be. Monk caught more passes than either Lofton or Largent, so why the snub?

One reporter once stated that Monk was only a possession receiver, but Steve Largent was not fleet footed receiver either. Raymond Barry was another Hall of Fame receiver who biggest skill was his precise running of routes not his ability to run pass defensive backs.

What makes a Hall of Fame player? There are many factors to consider when voting for a Hall of Fame. Longevity of career and elite status are certainly important factors.

Monk had a long and successful career and his election to the 1980’s decade team is certain proof of his elite status along with accomplishment on the field.

He also was a winner, integral part of two Super Bowl winning team. (Injuries kept him from playing in the 1983 Super Bowl but he was an important member of the 1988 and 1992 Super Bowl team.)

And he was a class act off the field as he was on the field. As Peter King repeatedly tells everyone, the only thing that counts is what happens on the field and certainly Monk’s accomplishment on the field counts.

Monk’s character off the field should count for something. Michael Irvin’s off field trouble doesn’t count against him but Monk’s lack of trouble off the field hasn’t helped him.

One factor in Irvin’s favor is that he was a colorful character off the field and a member of the media now. He’s presently everywhere on ESPN. Always present in the voters mind where as Monk was a quiet man, who simply did his job.

The writers are guilty of dereliction in their duty by snubbing Monk.