2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame: Finally Art Monk's Turn?

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2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame: Finally Art Monk's Turn?
On Saturday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce its 2008 inductees, as chosen by the 44 voting media members, and it would be a nice makeup call if Art Monk were elected in the same year as his former teammate, Darrell Green.

Perhaps it is finally Art Monk's turn.  And it would be a perfect time for it.

Monk has already had to wait too long—eight years—and he should go in with Green (one of the five finest cornerbacks ever to play in the NFL) who should be a lock to make the Hall in this, his first year of eligibility.

Monk's absence from the Hall is the greatest standing omission by the media members who comprise the Hall's Board of Selectors. Last year, they eschewed Monk in favor of Michael Irvin—a very dubious decision.

When Monk retired after the 1995 season, he held three NFL records and was the league's all-time leading receiver.  He played for 16 seasons, catching 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns.  

He went to three Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and was named to the All-Decade Team of the 1980s.  His 940 catches still rank sixth all-time, 11 behind Andre Reed (who also deserves the call).

Now Green was simply one of the greatest athletes ever to play in the NFL.  A first-round pick in the famed 1983 draft, he was still running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at age 40.  He played 20 seasons for the Redskins, retiring at age 41 in 2002.  That was the only season in which he did not record an interception, solidifying a 19-year stretch that is also an NFL record for consecutive seasons with a pick.  

Green finished with a franchise-record 54 interceptions, a number that helped him to be named to seven Pro Bowls, four All-Pro teams, and the 1990s All-Decade Team.  He also made it to three Super Bowls, winning two.  All of this should make him a surefire first-time Famer.

Andre Reed has been a Hall of Fame finalist for the past two years, and should join the two Redskins this year.  

Reed played 16 seasons (all but one with the Buffalo Bills), went to seven Pro Bowls, and finished in the top 10 in three receiving categories (receptions, yards, and touchdowns).  His 951 receptions rank fifth.  He also played in all four of the Bills' Super Bowl losses in the 1990s.

Reed could lose out to Cris Carter, whose 16-year career netted 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns—both second only to Jerry Rice.  Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowl player and also voted to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

It really would be something if the voters put three receivers in the Hall all at once, but it probably won't happen.  Most likely Reed will have to wait.  But he shouldn't.

Monk, Green, Reed, and Carter are four of 17 finalists.  The others are Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Russ Grimm, Ray Guy, Bob Kuechenberg, Randall McDaniel, Paul Tagliabue, Derrick Thomas, Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett, Gary Zimmerman, and Marshall Goldberg.  

A minimum of four and as many as seven will be chosen, according to selection criteria.  It all depends on which nominees garner at least 80 percent of the vote from the 44 voters.

The picks here would be Monk, Green, Carter, Reed, both Thomases, and McDaniel.

The late Derrick Thomas, former Kansas City Chief, has been a finalist four times now, and there is no reason to continue excluding a guy who dominated with excellence from the linebacker position.  

No linebacker has yielded as significant an impact, outside of Lawrence Taylor.  In 11 seasons, Thomas recorded 126.5 sacks and was named to nine Pro Bowls.  He also was on the league's 1990s All-Decade Team.  He should be in.

Emmitt Thomas, also a former Chief, is one of two senior nominees (along with Goldberg).  He merits selection based on the fact that he still holds the Chiefs’ record of 58 interceptions, accomplished in a 13-season career spent entirely in Kansas City.  His 58 picks are ninth all-time and fourth most by a cornerback.  He went to five Pro Bowls and should be able to add the Hall of Fame to his honors this year.

McDaniel was simply one of the most athletic, dominant guards in NFL history.  He played in 202 consecutive games and an NFL-record 12 straight Pro Bowls.  Plus, he was named All-Pro for nine straight years (1990-98).  This is his second year of eligibility, and he deserves to go in now.

So that would make it two Redskins, two Chiefs, two Vikings, and one Bill.  Three receivers, two cornerbacks, a linebacker, and a guard.

It may or may not turn out that way, but one thing is certain: It's Monk's turn.

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