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In Hall of Fame, Character Should Count

As far as anyone connected with the Redskins is concerned, the mystery continues.

While there weren't any real "signs" that said Art Monk would make the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 3, there sure was a great deal of anticipation this time around.

Monk and former teammate Russ Grimm didn't get in, but Michael Irvin, Bruce Matthews, Thurman Thomas, Gene Hickerson, Charlie Sanders and Roger Wehrli did.

All NFL fans offer congratulations to the class of 2007. But at the same time you have to place Monk's snub at the top of the list if you're considering Hall of Fame snubs.

For one thing, it sure seems like the distance between Dallas, Texas and Canton, Ohio is a great deal shorter than the distance between Washington, D.C., and Canton. At least as far as the last two Hall of Fame classes is concerned.

Last year when Monk and Grimm were shut out, Troy Aikman and Rayfield Wright were enshrined.

Another Cowboy goes this year, Irvin. The so-called "Playmaker" has always been quite a character, hasn't he?

You had to figure that at least one wide receiver would make it this time around between Irvin, Monk and Andre Reed, the former Buffalo Bill who finished his career with the Redskins in 2000.

Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys' first round pick in 1988, caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns during his 12-season career. He was named to five Pro Bowls.

Monk, a first-round selection of the Redskins in 1980, played 16 seasons in the NFL (14 as a Redskin) and finished with 940 catches, 12,721 yards and 68 TDs. He was a Pro Bowler in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Reed, a fourth-round pick by Buffalo in 1985, put together a 16-year career in which he caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and 87 TDs. Seven times he made the Pro Bowl.

What those numbers don't tell you is that Monk had all of the intangibles.

They don't tell you that Monk was an outstanding blocker for teams that liked to play a "smash-mouth" style.

They don't tell you that Monk's behavior off the field was and is exemplary.

They don't tell you that Monk is basically a quiet and reserved type, who didn't aggressively promote himself like others do.

It's true that one wide receiver did make the Hall this year. As to why Art Monk is still on the outside looking in remains a matter of speculation once again.

The 2007 class will increase to 241 the number of all-time greats permanently honored. Enshrinement ceremonies will be held in Canton on Saturday, Aug. 4.

As far as next year, Redskins fans are reminded that Darrell Green retired in 2002 and that--in terms of Hall of Fame consideration--he will have been away from the game for the obligatory five seasons.

And if they can muster the courage, another Art Monk watch should be in order.

One of these years, it is hoped, the Hall's voters will get it right. In other words, they'll look more favorably on Art Monk, who has always been known for his character.

Not just because of the fact that on Oct. 12, 1992, he became the NFL's all-time receptions leader with career catch No. 820. But because of the fact that Monk brought character to the game.

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