NFC East: Art Monk

Redskins Game day: Ten Thoughts

December, 8, 2013
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1. I don’t know what this means, but it’s certainly an observation: The Redskins seemed as loose last week as they’ve been all season, whether when we could watch practice or during the open locker room sessions (especially Friday, a typically lively day). I don’t know if that’s good or bad -- though the answer will be revealed Sunday. I do know when they were 3-6 a year ago they also were rather loose and it probably helped.

2. Pierre Garcon has had an impressive season and his 84 receptions are the most in franchise history after 12 games. Next highest: Art Monk with 71 catches and Gary Clark with 66. Garcon has done a terrific job, but the problem here is the total yards. Despite having 13 and 18 more catches, respectively, than the Monk and Clark, Garcon does not have more receiving yards than at the same point. He has 980 yards compared to Monk (1,007) and Clark (1,126).

3. Garcon’s yards after the catch (491) rank fourth in the NFL, but that stems in part from how many screen passes and smoke routes he’s run -- plays designed for yards after the catch. He has not been a big threat downfield. It’s why he’s averaging just 11.7 yards per catch, tying his career low (for the five seasons in which he’s been a regular).

[+] EnlargeWashington's Pierre Garcon
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsWide receiver Pierre Garcon has been a bright spot for Washington's offense this season.
4. That’s not to say he’s not having a good season; he clearly is -- he's consistent and productive. But it does illustrate some of what’s been wrong in the passing game -- the inability to get the ball downfield. Of the top 10 receivers in the NFL in terms of catches, the only two who average less per reception are slot receivers Julian Edelman (10.2) and Wes Welker (10.5).

5. In fact, no Redskin with at least 10 catches is averaging more than 12.5 yards per catch, which is a major problem. Every other team in the NFL has at least one player averaging more yards per catch than 12.5. Last season, the Redskin had four players who finished with at least 20 catches who averaged at least 13.5 yards per reception. This also speaks to the lack of explosiveness at this position. Aldrick Robinson has speed, but I wouldn’t consider him explosive (though on his six catches he averages 25.3 yards. The problem? Six catches. He’s just not that good). Leonard Hankerson (obviously now hurt) runs good routes, but after the catch doesn’t make anyone miss. All of this is a function of how teams are defending the Redskins, the line not giving quarterback Robert Griffin III enough time to always throw deep, Griffin’s accuracy being off and receivers who don’t get open. That about sums it up.

6. This is the time of the year when the media starts voting on its Good Guy award winner, the player who helps the media best do its job. Despite a 3-9 record, the Redskins have players who routinely do this. It’s not easy getting asked all the time about bad performances or about whether or not a coach should be fired (it’s a bit rare when players publicly say yes) or about what might happen to them. They all know if there’s a regime change it puts them on notice, too. One player who has been largely absent during the week? Second-year back Alfred Morris. Not quite sure why; the press he gets is almost always good. But he does talk after games. He was terrific to talk to last season and even early in the year. He still seems jovial when seen around the facility.

7. Oh, yeah, the game. The Redskins’ defense will be challenged by Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles. He’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has scored nine touchdowns. Charles is a big-time threat in the pass game, too, with a team-best 55 receptions. Charles hits holes fast, but he’s not going to lower his shoulder and drive through defenders. It’s not his running style.

8. Another thing: He and fellow back Dexter McCluster are used on a lot of screens. The Chiefs will use both players on the field at the same time and will get them the ball on a variety of routes. They’ll even have them run crossing routes underneath, trying to get them the ball in space in one-on-one situations. McCluster has 42 receptions.

9. The Chiefs haven’t applied a lot of pressure in recent games, but consider that two of their last three games have come against Denver and that’s a bit understandable. Few if any quarterbacks get rid of the ball faster than Denver’s Peyton Manning. With leading sacker Justin Houston (11 sacks) out Sunday, the Chiefs’ rush will take a hit. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali has nine sacks. While he’s fast, it’s his always-active hands that create issues. But they will try to manufacture pressure with a variety of looks. They had one blitz, for example, against New York earlier this season in which they stunted the end and the tackle on the nose on the left side with the inside linebackers executing the same move right behind them. Yes, it led to major pressure. That also came with a blitz. “They have a ton of stuff like that,” Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen said. “Usually we have a meeting on Thursday and go over the blitz and what they like to do and it’s a short meeting. But this one was like 15 minutes because they do a lot of stuff we’re not used to.”

10. The key? Running the ball well, especially on early downs. Kansas City allows a hefty 4.6 yards per rush and any pass rush is negated by a team able to put itself in third-and-shorts. But going inside the numbers, I’m not sure the Chiefs are that bad. Some backs have had strong games (Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, Denver's Montee Ball). But, for the most part, they’ve done well against a team’s top back. One reason: nose tackle Dontari Poe, who is strong and quick and occupies double teams. He’ll be a handful Sunday.

Monk, Green: Skins should mull new name

July, 23, 2013
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Washington Redskins Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green say the team should consider changing the team's nickname because it is offensive to many Native Americans.

Owner Daniel Snyder has said he will never change the team's nickname, but Monk and Green told WTOP Radio in Washington on Tuesday that the topic isn't one that should be so easily dismissed.

"[If] Native Americans feel like Redskins or the Chiefs or [another] name is offensive to them, then who are we to say to them 'No, it's not'?" Monk told the radio station.

Read the rest of the story here.
And a good Wednesday morning to all. (Wednesday, right? Yeah, Wednesday.) I'll be with you just as soon as I catch up on my NBA reading. Wait, it says here the Heat only lost one game last night. Man, based on the reaction I saw all over Twitter after the game, I could have sworn it was four. The NBA confuses me. The NFL, though ... that always makes sense. Links.

Dallas Cowboys

Calvin weighs in on the Tony Romo thing, saying that yes, stats are nice and the stats support Romo as a top quarterback, but that doesn't matter until and unless he starts winning playoff games. And yeah, a lot of that's out of his control. But Calvin is right that the outside perception of the guy will not change until the playoff record does. He could have a rotten year and put up lousy numbers in three playoff games, but as long as the team won those three playoff games his reputation would likely improve. Of course, this hypothesis ignores the likelihood that, if Romo had a rotten year, the Cowboys wouldn't have a chance to play in any playoff games.

Michael Irvin thinks the offense is fine and that the biggest problem the Cowboys have had is a defense that hasn't shown an ability to generate turnovers and therefore contribute to the scoring from its end. He believes that this offseason's additions at cornerback may have changed that.

New York Giants

In a private ceremony Wednesday night at Tiffany & Co., the Giants will receive their Super Bowl rings. Thanks to punter Steve Weatherford, there were some pictures of the ring swirling around the Internet on Tuesday. But Justin Tuck says the photo Weatherford put on Twitter wasn't the real ring. So I guess we'll see.

Tuck also says the Giants won't let the Osi Umenyiora contract situation become a distraction to them this offseason, mainly because they're used to it by now. This isn't just talk with the Giants, as we've discussed before. Their veteran locker room is well suited to handle and/or ignore an issue such as the Umenyiora contract dispute, even if it gets far uglier than it is right now.

Philadelphia Eagles

Speaking of contract disputes, DeSean Jackson is happy to no longer be in one this offseason, and the extension he signed with the Eagles has him feeling like a new man as he gets ready to begin offseason practices. Jackson admitted several times last year that the contract situation was bothering him and affecting the way he went about his business. So, you know. No more excuses on that front, right?

Owen Schmitt has signed with the Raiders, leaving Stanley Havili ostensibly as the Eagles' starting fullback. But as Bleeding Green Nation points out, the Eagles don't use the fullback very much, so it's not likely to be a high-impact change.

Washington Redskins

Richard Crawford, the SMU cornerback the Redskins drafted in the seventh round, grew four inches in college and believes that's what helped make him a draftable prospect. We'll see. Lots of opportunity in the Redskins' secondary this offseason.

Former Redskins great Art Monk has been named to the College Football Hall of Fame for the career he had at Syracuse before he became a star in the NFL. Somebody on the chat asked me to give this news a "shout-out," and there isn't much else going on, so there you go.

Lockout will hurt the Redskins

May, 26, 2011
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Mike Shanahan Geoff Burke/US PresswireThe lockout threatens to disrupt the momentum Mike Shanahan built heading into the offseason.
The Redskins are a critical part of NFL labor strife lore. Under Joe Gibbs, they survived the strikes of 1982 and 1987 better than any team in the league, winning the Super Bowl at the end of each of those disrupted seasons. The New York Times did a big story on this a couple of months back, examining the reasons Washington was able to go 8-1 in '82 and 3-0 with replacement players in '87 and weather those labor storms to become champions. Not coincidence, say those who were involved, as much as it was about Gibbs and the way the veteran cores of those teams held things together.

Knowledge of this history has led some to suggest (facetiously, of course) that 2011 could be the Redskins' year. Hey, they always win the Super Bowl when there's a work stoppage, so this is just what they need, right? If there'd been a lockout two years ago, Jim Zorn would be wearing a ring right now and Mike Shanahan would be coaching the Cowboys. Or something like that.

Well, unfortunately for the Redskins, while history may well be on their side, reality is not. Not this time. Given their current circumstances, the Redskins are surely more likely than any other NFC East team to suffer damage as a result of the lockout. Given where they are right now in the development of their franchise, the Redskins might be hurt worse by this lockout than any team in the whole league.

This is a critical season for Mike Shanahan as Washington's coach. Sure, it's only the second year of his five-year deal, and for that reason job security is the last thing he's worried about. But this year is critical for other reasons -- reasons that pertain to Shanahan's goal of building the Redskins back into contenders.

Shanahan's first season was a bumpy one, and his midseason handling of Donovan McNabb and the quarterback situation in general raised eyebrows among people who'd expected a man with his résumé to deal with such things more artfully. But on balance, the 2010-11 season served a key purpose for Shanahan. It established him as the unquestioned leader, face and voice of the franchise. The skirmishes with McNabb and Albert Haynesworth were merely the most public manifestations of Shanahan's assertion of himself. Zorn had been weak and overmatched in the head coach role, and it was important for Shanahan to establish right away that he would be neither.

Critical to that effort was the subversion by team owner Daniel Snyder of his own out-front persona. As a condition of taking the job, Shanahan insisted that he be given control over football matters and that Snyder not meddle in personnel decisions to the extent that he had in the past. Against all expectations, Snyder actually pulled this off. The 2010-11 season was his quietest as Redskins owner, and his disappearance into the background helped Shanahan do the things he needed to do in order to deliver his new-sheriff-in-town message.

[+] EnlargeDaniel Snyder
AP Photo/Paul SancyaDaniel Snyder has stayed out of the limelight since Shanahan came aboard.
The lockout could wipe out some of that momentum. Shanahan's assertion of leadership and Snyder's step into the background are vital to the Redskins' near-future success, but one year wasn't enough to lock those things in. With Shanahan unable to coach, the risk rises that he ends up starting from or near scratch once his players return to Ashburn. With Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen unable to make personnel moves, the risk rises that Snyder gets itchy and impatient and backslides into his old ways. He could decide to go nuts once free agency opens against the advice of the football minds he hired and promised to leave alone. Not saying this is what will happen, mind you, just that the "pause" button the league has pressed on its offseason increases the risk.

It's also preventing the Redskins from doing a number of vital housekeeping things. They need to move on from McNabb and figure out what their 2011 quarterback situation really is. If it really is John Beck, then he'll need to know he's not just a Shanahan smokescreen and get in to practice huddles so his teammates know it, too. If it's to be Carson Palmer or someone not currently on the roster, then they need to get on with that as well.

They need to resolve the Haynesworth situation, of course. He needs to go, certainly, and dispatching him will be as cathartic a move as Shanahan's ever made. But the lockout will end with Haynesworth still on the team, along with all the distractions he brings, and his mere presence will be a story for as long as it takes them, post-lockout, to get rid of him.

They need to keep working on Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense, because as we discussed here Monday the second year is a crucial one for the install of a 3-4. They need a nose tackle, and they need to know how realistic it is to get someone like Aubrayo Franklin in free agency -- a move that probably would help them more than a splashier play for someone like Nnamdi Asomugha, though they need to know about him, too. And as they've seemed to since the Art Monk days ... sheesh, they still need help at receiver.

The Redskins have a lot they need to do -- more than most teams, really, given where they are in this particular chapter of their history. Because of that, when I'm asked which team in this division I think will be hurt most by the lockout, my answer's easy. This won't be 1982 or 1987 for the Redskins. This year's work stoppage is a huge problem for them.

NFC East Hall of Fame debate

July, 8, 2010
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A weeklong look at current or former players or coaches with Hall of Fame potential in the division.

Cowboys: Cliff Harris, free safety

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AP PhotoCliff Harris was the safety by which others were measured for years after he retired.
Claim to fame: Member of the 1970s all-decade team. Wasn't drafted out of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, but immediately won the free safety role. Nicknamed "Captain Crash," he was one of the most feared defenders in the game.

Case for enshrinement: He was a finalist in 2004 and certainly deserves to be in the Hall. For years, safeties entering the league were compared to Cliff Harris. He was the rare player who was excellent against the pass but could also blow up running plays. He took Tom Landry's complicated flex defense and added his own spin. Harris, a highly intelligent player, finally made it into the club's hallowed Ring of Honor in 2004.

Harris studied opponents for hours at a time and he punished wide receivers who ventured over the middle. Cardinals great Larry Wilson, who's in the Hall of Fame, has said that Harris was the best safety he'd ever watched. Harris went to six Pro Bowls and he and Ken Houston were considered the best safeties from the '70s.

Case against enshrinement: It's tough to build a case against Harris. But the fact that he had only 29 career interceptions probably works against him. Wilson had 52 and Houston finished with 49. Harris walked away from the game after the '79 season when he was still going to Pro Bowls (age 31). I'm sure he could have collected 10 to 15 more interceptions.

And those Super Bowl losses to the Steelers in the '70s didn't help matters. If the Cowboys win one of those games, they probably would have two or three more players in the Hall than they have. I think Harris would've been one of those players.

Bottom line: In a lot of ways, Harris redefined how the safety position was played, and that should be rewarded by the selection committee.

Best player who will never make it: For my money, it's Drew Pearson. His stats don't hold up in this era, but he played a huge role in Roger Staubach's success. And though he had only a couple of 1,000-yard seasons, he made clutch catches seemingly all the time. Ask Redskins fans from the '70s if they think Pearson belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Eagles: Donovan McNabb, quarterback

Claim to fame: Took over as the full-time starter in 2000 and took the Eagles to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl in that decade. Has been selected to six Pro Bowls and has the fourth lowest interception percentage of all time. Became the first NFL quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in 2004. The best quarterback in the history of the Eagles.

Case for enshrinement: His numbers compare favorably to Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, who never won a Super Bowl. And McNabb put up monster numbers with average to subpar wide receivers (except for Terrell Owens).

DeSean Jackson was a rookie when McNabb led the Eagles to the NFC title game in '08. Other than the Patriots, the Eagles were the most dominant team of the past decade and McNabb played a huge role in their success. McNabb also compares favorably to Hall of Famer Steve Young, although he's missing one very important piece of jewelry. McNabb's one of only six quarterbacks to pass for 25,000 yards and rush for 3,000. And his lower-body strength still makes him one of the most difficult quarterbacks in the league to sack. McNabb's lost some of his athleticism, but he still has a cannon for an arm.

Case against enshrinement: Those five NFC title games we discussed? Well, the Eagles lost four of them. And it's not as if McNabb strung together excellent performances in those games. He'll also be remembered for throwing three interceptions against the Patriots in the Super Bowl following the '04 season. It was the beginning of the end of the McNabb-T.O. relationship.

I think McNabb will always be appreciated more by the national media more than the folks in Philly. Every game has been dissected, so Eagles fans simply got to know him a little too well. His career has honestly been more consistent than Kurt Warner's. But Warner has the ring and he finished strong with the Cardinals.

Bottom line: Another trip to the Super Bowl would help his cause immensely, but he's already in the Canton conversation.

Best player who will never make it: Wide receiver Harold Carmichael's numbers might not look special compared to Randy Moss and Owens, but he was an elite receiver from his era. His numbers completely trump Hall of Famer Lynn Swann's. Carmichael finished with 254 more receptions and 28 more touchdowns than Swann. Of course, Swann has the four rings and that's the biggest reason he's in Canton.

Giants: Tiki Barber, running back

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James Lang/US PresswireTiki Barber finished his career with five consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 yards rushing.
Claim to fame: For the record, I'd originally chosen former defensive end Michael Strahan, but his "no-brainer" status for the Hall doesn't lend itself to a good argument. Barber may have left a sour taste with his early retirement, but he put up some impressive numbers. As Daily News columnist Gary Myers once pointed out, Barber may have left 3,000 yards on the table. He's the greatest running back for one of the most storied franchises in the league. Doesn't that count for something?

Case for enshrinement: He finished strong with five consecutive seasons of at least 1,200 yards rushing. And his 15,632 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) ranked him 10th on the league's all-time list upon his retirement following the '06 season. In 154 regular-season games, Barber averaged 101.5 yards from scrimmage per game. That puts him in an elite group with the likes of Walter Payton and Barry Sanders.

Barber led the franchise in all-time receptions with 586 at the time of his retirement. And he was still on top of his game when he walked away after '06 -- as evidenced by a 200-yard performance against the Redskins. He was the Giants' leading rusher in 80 consecutive games from 2002 until 2006, which speaks to his consistency.

Case against enshrinement: Super Bowl rings talk, and Barber retired a season before the Giants broke through in '07. And he certainly left a lot of yards on the table when he walked away at age 31. There's a chance that he could've had at least two more highly productive seasons. Like Emmitt Smith, he had the ability to avoid the big hits that knock running backs out of games. Barber was one of the best backs in the league over his final five seasons, but I suspect that won't be enough. And it doesn't help that Ricky Watters is ahead of him on the all-time rushing list. Watters isn't getting in the Hall -- and Barber probably will meet the same fate. By the way, can any of you make a case against Strahan? I'd be interested to see what that looks like. I guess you could point out the fact that Kevin Greene has nearly 20 more career sacks. But that's about as far as I got.

Bottom line: Barber's early retirement probably cost him a shot at the Hall.

Best player who will never make it: I realize that Phil Simms has said he wouldn't elect himself, but I think he deserves honorable mention. He took a beating his first few years in the league and then had to deal with Bill Parcells, a man who chews up quarterbacks. What Simms did in Super Bowl XXI was remarkable. His 22-of-25 performance earned him the Super Bowl MVP. Simms was a huge part of Parcells' success with the Giants, so I'd have no problem with him being in the Hall of Fame.

Redskins: Gary Clark, wide receiver

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AP Photo/Scott StewartGary Clark caught 65 touchdowns during 11 NFL seasons.
Claim to fame: He didn't have the longevity of Art Monk, but he was brilliant during his eight seasons with the Redskins. In the late '80s and early '90s, I thought he overtook Monk as the best receiver on the team. He could stretch the field with his speed, but he was also willing to go across the middle -- as evidenced by his annual appearances on the All-Madden team.

Case for enshrinement: The thing that always jumps out at me is that Clark had 65 touchdowns in only 167 games. Art Monk's in the Hall of Fame with 68 touchdowns in 224 games. But I don't want to turn this into an anti-Monk argument. I think they probably both deserve to be in the Hall.

The fact that Clark was the top receiver on what I thought was the best Redskins team ever ('91) holds a lot of weight with me. He caught 70 passes for 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns that season. Clark also had seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl win over the Bills.

Clark was a player who inspired all of his teammates. And as of a couple of years ago, he was still inspiring the Redskins. Santana Moss told me about a time when Clark showed up to practice and told him to kick it into gear. Moss went on to finish the season strong after that talk in '07. Of all those great players from the Gibbs I era, Clark's the guy who always stands out to me. Perhaps he's hurt by the fact that Monk and Ricky Sanders were both so good.

Case against enshrinement: He simply didn't do it for long enough. And one of his Super Bowl rings came in a strike-shortened season. If he'd played 16 games in the strike-shortened '87 season, I believe Clark would have had another 1,300-yard season. Those were pretty rare in those days, but he made it look easy.

Clark got a late start because he spent a couple of seasons in the USFL. Those are two years he could've put up big numbers for the Redskins in the mid-'80s. But to nearly reach 11,000 yards in a relatively short career (compared to Monk's) is pretty remarkable.

Bottom line: Despite his brilliance, he just doesn't have the numbers to get in.

Best player who will never make it: I hope I'm wrong about this one, but it's unlikely left tackle Joe Jacoby will enter the Hall. The Hogs finally have a representative with Russ Grimm. I think those dominant teams of the '80s that blew open holes for John Riggins deserve more, but it probably won't happen. Jacoby was a trailblazer of sorts because he didn't get in a three-point stance on obvious passing situations. He was one of the first players to do that, and it soon caught on around the league. I think it's pretty much a wash when you put Grimm and Jacoby next to each other, but that's just me. I'm also a big fan of defensive end Charles Mann's work in the '80s and early '90s.

Now, let's hear some of your arguments.

Grimm, Haley, Smith among Hall finalists

January, 8, 2010
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Some former NFC East greats are among the 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, is a virtual lock in his first year of eligibility. He's joined by former Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm and former 49ers and Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley.

This is the first time Haley has been a finalist. He was one of the greatest pass-rushers of the 90s and he was a part of five Super Bowl winners. He also made a lot of noise off the field, but the voters are not allowed to take those things into consideration. I think Haley deserves to be in the Hall, but I'm not sure this is a great year for him to get in because it's such a strong class. Smith and Jerry Rice are obvious first-ballot choices and I think voters will have a hard time keeping Cris Carter out again.

I don't think anyone embodied the spirit of the Skins' famed "Hogs" like Grimm, who started for more than a decade. He went to four consecutive Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in those seasons. I definitely think he deserves to be in the Hall, but it might hurt him that the Redskins recently had Darrell Green and Art Monk inducted.

The voting will take place on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl.

Emmitt, Rice will head the 2010 HOF class

November, 29, 2009
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In case you missed it, the Hall of Fame Selection Committee released the 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2010 on Saturday and there were some players who spent some or all of their careers playing in the NFC East. Here are the players with Beast ties:
  • Cris Carter, Eagles (1987-89)
  • Richard Dent, Eagles (1997)
  • Russ Grimm, Redskins (1981-91)
  • Charles Haley, Cowboys (1992-96)
  • Andre Reed, Redskins (2000)
  • Emmitt Smith, Cowboys (1990-2002)

Yes, I realize that Andre Reed will someday enter the Hall as a Bills player and Cris Carter and Richard Dent will go in as a Viking and a Bear, but I was simply mentioning any of the players who at some point had an association with the NFC East. Of this group, I think Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice are the stone-cold locks. The fact that Rice is a lock probably hurts both Carter and Reed, who both belong to be in the Hall. And then there's the Charles Haley situation. He was a huge part of the Cowboys' three Super Bowl wins and he picked up a couple more rings with the 49ers. He could be a nightmare in the locker room, but he made a huge impact on the field. The problem for Haley is that he's going against Dent.

At least one member of the selection committee told ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins that he would vote for Dent over Haley. I think Russ Grimm is a worthy candidate, but the fact that Redskins Art Monk and Darrell Green recently entered the Hall might make it tough.

The Beast checks in with Monk and Green

November, 16, 2008
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- We just had an opportunity to visit with Darrell Green and Art Monk moments before they were to receive their Hall of Fame rings in a pregame ceremony. I asked Green whether he still hates the Dallas Cowboys.

"I certainly don't want to lose to the Cowboys," Green said. "We had a rivalry against Philly and the Giants, but there was something about playing the Cowboys. If you could get a win and it was against the Cowboys, it was like another straw in your hat."

Green also talked about the signing of Raiders castoff DeAngelo Hall, calling it an "incredible steal."

Green's attending this game with a heavy heart. His 53-year-old brother, Leonard, died unexpectedly Tuesday after experiencing shortness of breath. Green said he'll head to Houston on Monday to attend his brother's wake and the funeral will be Tuesday.

Monk didn't have much to say, which shouldn't come as a shock. But he did tell me that Everson Walls was the former Cowboys player who did the best job of defending him over the years.

"He was a finesse guy," Monk said. "But he was such a great athlete that he made it very difficult."

Monk fondly remembered a Redskins-Cowboys game at Texas Stadium in which Cowboys players attempted to prevent the "Fun Bunch" from celebrating a touchdown. The Redskins avenged a 31-30 loss at RFK by winning, 31-10.

Gibbs cheering on Redskins from afar

November, 13, 2008
11/13/08
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 Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
 Joe Gibbs says he enjoys seeing his former players have success under new Redskins coach Jim Zorn.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

As the Redskins prepared to square off with the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Monday Night Football," their Hall of Fame former coach spent the day fishing in Texas. For Joe Gibbs, retirement from football may have finally taken.

He's still heavily involved with his NASCAR team, but his days of spending the night at the office are behind him. When we talked before the Steelers-Redskins game (Week 9), Gibbs sounded like any other fan (who happens to own three Super Bowl rings). He'd remained in Dallas for an extra day after a race at Texas Motor Speedway, and he'd made sure that one of his close friends had a leather sofa and plenty of soft drinks on hand.

"I've always been a good fan of football," he said. "In general, I don't drive myself crazy and get too technical with what's happening on TV. I can sort of sit back and enjoy football like anyone else."

Gibbs said he's thoroughly enjoyed seeing his former players have success under Jim Zorn, but he thought it was important to distance himself from the organization for a while.

"I'd been around so long," Gibbs said. "I just felt like it was important that a new coach not have me hanging around all the time. I think coach Zorn has been fantastic. He kept a lot of our guys together, and I think that's been really important. But I didn't want him asking, 'Is Joe looking over my shoulder?'"

(Read full post)

Redskins fans welcome Monk, Green to Hall of Fame

August, 2, 2008
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 Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 Art Monk, formerly of the Washington Redskins, takes the stage during the Class of 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CANTON -- Darrell Green summed up the 2008 Hall of Fame commencements best on Saturday.

"It's a Redskins day, baby!" Green said.

The sea of burgundy and gold jerseys filled Fawcett Stadium in anticipation of Green and former Washington Redskins teammate Art Monk entering into the Hall of Fame. Both received lengthy standing ovations before and after their speeches.

Jared Green, Darrell's youngest son , estimated that "95 percent" of the announced crowd of 16,654 were Redskins fans, and his guess was pretty close.

There were a wealth of Green and Monk jerseys, and a good mix of jerseys from current Washington players that will take the field Sunday in its preseason debut against the Indianapolis Colts.

Green and Monk didn't disappoint. The pair were never as flashy as their contemporaries but were winners in every since of the word. Similar to their playing careers, Monk and Green were very consistent in delivering quality speeches.

There were many similarities Saturday.

Both Green and Monk had their sons introduce them. Both speeches were enlightening and charismatic. Both shared their experience with those that helped them.

And both players went into the Hall as proud Redskins.

"I will always be known as a Redskin," Monk said. "That's right."

Added Green, "To the Redskins faithful, our fans, I share this day with all of you."

Green was the only first-ballot Hall of Famer in the 2008 class. His case was undeniable after 20 stellar seasons, most of which he was the league's fastest man and one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.

But Monk's case was debated over the past several years. His candidacy was rebuked seven times by the Hall of Fame committee, despite Monk statistically ranking among the best at his position.

Monk had 940 career catches for 12,721 yards. His reception total is more than any receiver currently enshrined in Canton. But Monk only was a first-team All-Pro one time, in addition to his three Pro Bowls.

Monk also was never accommodating with the media during his 16-year career, which likely had a hand in his delayed entrance.

Fellow Hall of Famer Paul Warfield, also one of the greatest receivers of all time, believes Monk's case should've never been up for debate.

"Art Monk has had a stellar career," Warfield said. "I saw Art perhaps two weeks ago at an event and congratulated him. It's well deserved. He was statistically a leader until his marks were broken, and he should have been in a long time ago.

"I told Art, 'It doesn't matter, because now you're here.' And that's the most important thing. He deserved to be here and now he's a part of this very prestigious fraternity."

Monk briefly addressed his situation during his commencement speech.

"Now standing next to them, as one of them, is truly an honor,'' Monk said. "Getting here didn't come without consequences. But through it all I'm here with a greater appreciation for something that not every player wasn't able to achieve.

But finally being inducted had to be worth it for Monk, who received the longest-standing ovation of the night.

Redskins fans chanted "Eighty-one!" and "Thank you Monk!" as he smiled and soaked it all in. One sign read "A work of Art" to describe Monk's career as he smiled and enjoyed the elongated appreciation from Redskins fans.

"From the time I picked up a football, I loved this game," Monk said. "It's all I wanted to do."

Overall, this was a day when being long in the tooth was celebrated.

Longevity is the most elusive feat in the National Football League, yet it is the rare common thread that binds the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame class together this weekend.

Green, Monk, Gary Zimmerman, Andre Tippet, Emmitt Thomas and Fred Dean combined for an astounding 84 years of NFL experience.

But it was the 36 years played by a pair of Redskins that brought a majority of today's onlookers to Canton, a city rich in football history.

"The Redskin Nation sticks together," Green said.

They sure do.

Green gives charismatic speech

August, 2, 2008
8/02/08
9:05
PM ET
 
 AP Photo/Mark Duncan
 Darrell Green, left, jokes around as fans cheer for him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday in Canton, Ohio. At right is Fred Dean.

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CANTON, Ohio -- The crowd of 16,654 rose to its feet before and after a rousing speech by former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green.

Jared Green gave a delightful and often funny introduction of his father, who played 20 seasons in Washington until he retired at the age of 42.

But the former NFL's fastest man couldn't run from his emotions.

"You bet your life I'm going to cry," Green said. "You bet your life I will."

A few moments later, Green cried.

Green was proud of his teammates. He was proud of his parents. He was proud of his wife, and he was proud of his son that flawlessly introduced Darrell Green on one of the proudest days his life.

"That's my boy right there," Green said.

Green was charismatic in his speech. He talked about how he got his start in football, how he nearly quit in college after the death of his friend, and how former coaches such as Joe Gibbs shaped his career.

And it all culminated into a stellar Hall of Fame career that came full circle in Canton today. Not only that, he went in with his longtime teammate and friend -- receiver Art Monk.

"What a great day."

Redskins fans brace themselves

August, 2, 2008
8/02/08
8:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CANTON, Ohio -- Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green is next to speak, which has created a buzz here at Fawcett Stadium.

Many people are filing around and getting in their seats, ready to hear what the former 20-year veteran has to say.

By the way, any mention of Green, Art Monk or any former Redskins for that matter has created a rousing group of cheers throughout the evening.

Redskin Parade!

August, 2, 2008
8/02/08
8:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

CANTON, Ohio -- Is this Fawcett Stadium or FedEx Field?

It's difficult to tell with the impressive sea of burgundy-and-gold jerseys at Saturday's Hall of Fame ceremonies.

There are a lot of Art Monk and Darrell Green jerseys in Fawcett Stadium, mixed with many jerseys of current Redskins such as running back Clinton Portis.

Green will speak third-to-last this evening, and Monk will be the headliner as the final speaker.

It's no secret the pair of players most people came to see.

Hall of Fame Headlines: Redskins Edition

August, 2, 2008
8/02/08
11:56
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

  • Mark Maske of the Post says the Redskins couldn't imagine a better scenario than Darrell Green and Art Monk being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same class. Green, a cornerback who was considered too small coming out of Texas A&M, has never been at a loss for words. He's entering the Hall with a close friend who's never had much to say.

Green was considered a lock for the Hall, although he never acknowledged that sentiment. In fact, he and his son, Jared, argued over his credentials on the morning of the vote last February.

"I said, 'You know what, it just hit me: You're seeing my career from your perspective. I'm seeing it from mine,' "Green said of the conversation with his son. "I was JV in 11th grade, walked on in college, dropped out of school, went back, and everyone always told me I was too small, blah, blah, blah. And so we kind of realized, 'You know what, you can respect what I'm feeling, and I can respect what you're feeling. But now you understand why I'm not a shoo-in when I'm looking from my vantage point.' . . . So it was really interesting."

  • Post columnist Thomas Boswell does a nice job of explaining the careers of Green and Monk. Make sure you get to the Bobby Mitchell story. Fun stuff.
  • Michael Wilbon talks about his frustration with Monk being kept out of the Hall over the years. He could never understand all the arguments against the receiver. Through it all, Wilbon says Monk remained gracious. Here' the note Monk sent Wilbon when he didn't make the cut one year:

"Thanks for the effort . . . now stop worrying about it."

  • David Elfin of the Washington Times checks in from Canton. It has to be an incredibly rewarding day for Elfin because he's the one who presented Monk to the voters in February.

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