Monday, November 27, 2006

Hallelujah! Peter King has Finally Seen the Light

Peter King is now endorsing Art Monk for the Hall of fame after years of campaigning and voting to keep him out. Finally!

King mentions one of the absurd comparisons that I wrote about months ago: Monk has more receptions than the combined receptions of Hall of Famers Swann and Stallworth.

King quotes Bill Polian, the GM of the Indianapolis Colts, as saying: “You guys (Hall of Fame voters) are running the risk of becoming irrelevant,” which is exactly what I wrote months ago. Polian thinks it is ridiculous that Monk and Reed, who played for the Bills when Polian was GM there, are not in the Hall already. So, why have they been denied for so long? I am convinced it is the pettiness of King and guys like him (e.g. Zimmerman) who cannot stand to see more Redskins from that era get inducted than their beloved Giants. But, when their credibility was questioned by Polian, they realized the game was up. Now, King knows he has to ditch the pettiness if he wants to maintain his credibility and keep getting those NFL gigs.

King goes on to say that he only rethought his position on Monk because the guy he was advocating for induction for many years, Harry Carson, finally got in last year. It took a Washington Post writer to point out to King that all of the reasons that King used to argue vociferously for Carson were valid for Monk.

I would add, though, that unlike Monk, Carson never led the league in anything or retired as the all-time leader in any category applicable to defenders. Before Monk, no receiver ever had triple-digit receptions in the NFL, and it took a rule change and eight years for Rice to surpass Monk’s single-season record. It took several years and a rules change for Rice to pass Monk’s all-time receptions record and record for most consecutive games with a catch.

Monk played most of his career when cornerbacks were allowed to hand check and body check receivers all the way down the field until the ball was in the air. Rice played most of his career when cornerbacks were not allowed to touch receivers after five yards. Monk played most of his career when there was no such thing as “unnecessary roughness;” it was football, a rough sport. Rice played most of his career when a difficult spin move on Dancing with the Stars would be flagged. Monk played most of his career when the guy who was supposed to deliver the ball to him, the quarterback, was allowed to be hit after he threw the ball, making it hard for QBs to deliver the ball. Rice played most of his career when quarterbacks couldn’t be breathed on unless the ball was in their hands. Monk played all of his career with Theismann, Schroeder, Williams, Humphries, Rypien, and a hand full of other quarterbacks throwing the ball to him. Don’t bother to check the Hall of Fame roster for their names. Rice spent virtually his whole career with two quarterbacks: Montana and Young. They both happen to be Hall of Famers. Young has the highest career passer rating in NFL history and Montana may be the best quarterback who ever stepped on the field.

Rice absolutely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and will likely get in on the first ballot. Monk should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer six years ago and it was King and Zimmerman who campaigned to keep him out. Now that their beloved Carson is in, they look ridiculous for keeping Monk out. It took a guy like Polian, a well-respected GM, to point out their bias, their silliness. What took Polian so long? Where were the rest of the personnel guys in the NFL?

Before ending this on a positive note, let me point out one more bit of glaring bias that screams at you when you take a step back and evaluate the Hall of Fame inductees over the past fifteen years. Between 1981 and 1991, the Redskins under Joe Gibbs played in five NFC Championship games and won four of them. They played in four Super Bowls and won three of them. I would argue that the best Redskins team ever was the 1983 team, which is the only one that lost a Super Bowl in that eleven-year span. The 1983 Redskins were defending Super Bowl champions who obliterated about a dozen major NFL records in the regular season including the record for most points scored in a season (541 points) and average margin of victory (13.06 PPG); each helped in part by their still extant turnover differential record.

It was because of how easily they vanquished everybody in 1983 that they took their Super Bowl opponent lightly. Their opponent was the Raiders, a team that the Redskins had already beaten in the regular season and which played in the far-inferior AFC. If the Redskins had taken them seriously that Sunday, Gibbs would be a perfect 4 – 0 in the Super Bowl and pundits would still be talking about how the 1983 Redskins team was the best that ever played in the NFL. C'est la vie.

The point is: The Redskins were a dominating franchise between 1981 and 1991. There have only been five other dominating franchises in the NFL since Super Bowl play began: The 1960s Packers; the 1970s Steelers; the 1980s 49ers; the 1990s Cowboys, who won three Super Bowls; and the 2000s Patriots. (Don’t talk to me about the Vikings in the 1970s or the Bills in the late 80s-early 90s. They didn’t win championships. The 1970s Dolphins and Cowboys? Close, but not quite there.)

The 1960s Packers have eleven HOF inductees including Vince Lombardi. The 1970s Steelers have eight inductees including their head coach, Chuck Noll. The 1980s 49ers have four including Joe Walsh, but Rice and probably Roger Craig will be there soon making it at least six. It is too early to tally the 1990s Cowboys, and the 2000s Patriots are still playing.

So, how is it possible that there are only two members of the 1981-1991 Redskins who have been inducted in the Hall of Fame and only one is a player? That is the definition of bias. Jacoby and Grimm should be in already. Bostic and May should get serious consideration. They were the Hogs, the most storied offensive line in history. Their innovative and motivational coach, Joe Bugel, should be in already. Monk should be in already. If Carson can make the Hall, then Monte Coleman should be in too. If Lawrence Taylor is in the Hall, then Dexter Manley should be in, too. Defensive Tackle Dave Butz took on triple teams and still stuffed the run. Brian Mitchell retired as the all-time leader in all-purpose yards (returns, rushing, receiving). He should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Mark Moseley retired as the record holder for most consecutive field goals, most points in a season, and was the only kicker to ever win an NFL MVP award. He should be in the Hall already. Darryl Green will be eligible soon. If he is not elected on the first ballot, then we should ignore the Hall of Fame.

Look, not all of the Redskins on the above list should be in the Hall, but at least five more players should be in the HOF if the HOF voters are consistent with their previous voting patterns. Anything less means that there is a campaign against Redskins players akin to the campaign that King is now ending against Monk.

Now, here is what King said:

In some ways I've been part of the problem. Even though Monk retired with the all-time receptions record, I've historically been anti-Monk for several reasons...(Ed. Note: The reasons are all nonsense which I've written about before. King said he wouldn't vote for Monk because he only won three popularity contests--i.e. Pro Bowls, which is just asinine.)The leadership, the selflessness, the durable productivity ... all the same (as Carson). I decided I should re-think my position.

As I made my rounds of training camps this year, I asked veteran coaches about Monk and the one word that kept coming up was "unselfish.'' His downfield blocking prowess kept coming up. His long-term numbers were almost Yastrzemski-like (one or two great years, lots of productive ones, very reliable). (Ed. Note: Did Yaz retire as the all time home run leader? No? How about all-time leader in batting average? No? Runs scored? No? How many championships did Yaz lead his team to? None? Then, Monk’s numbers were much more than Yaz-like; much more. This is more damning with faint praise from King.) But when I talked to Joe Gibbs on Friday, the one thing that stood out was the body of work we don't see -- the downfield blocking, the quiet leadership, and this: Unlike his louder receiving mates Clark and Ricky Sanders, Monk, according to Gibbs, never once said he wanted the ball more. "We used him almost as a tight end a lot,'' said Gibbs, "and not only did he do it willingly, he was a great blocker for us. If he'd been a squeaky wheel, who knows how many catches Art would have had. But he cared about one thing -- the team.''

So many of the things Carson did can't be quantified. Similarly with Monk. Not only did he lead the NFL in all-time receptions when he retired, but he blocked superbly and was the most important locker-room influence on a three-time Super Bowl champion. I'm voting for him.

I'll support Monk and my voting...

Look, I want to end on a positive note, so I am going to ignore King’s vote for Irvin. Just make sure Monk gets in, big guy.

I have a million things I want to write about this past weekend's NFL games (from the Giants (OMG) to the Redskins), but I want this post to stay up top for a while.

Update 11/29/06
King's article prompted me to examine Andre Reed's career and compare it with Michael Irvin’s. All I can say is: Has Peter King lost his mind?

From a statistical standpoint, there is no comparison. Andre Reed had a much better career than Michael Irvin in every respect save one: Irvin's team won three Super Bowls and Reed's team lost four. But, to attribute the victories solely to Irvin and the losses solely to Reed is just crazy. Dallas had a much better TEAM than the Bills in those days. It’s more relevant that Reed was the primary receiver on a team that won four AFC Championships. In fact, Reed slightly outplayed Irvin head-to-head in the 1992 and 1993 Super Bowls (Reed 14 catches 227 yards 0 TDs; Irvin 11 catches 180 yards 2 TDs). Reed should not be penalized for a lack of Super Bowl wins because he was drafted by the Bills.

As for his career, the numbers are not even close. Reed ranks higher than Irvin in every category and in most categories he is way ahead of Irvin. For example, Reed had 27% more receptions than Irvin (Reed 951 catches to Irvin’s 750); eleven percent more yards (13,198 yards to 11,904); and thirty-four percent more touchdowns (87 to 65). Reed even had more touchdowns in the post season.

Those are the statistics, but they say nothing about the man. Irvin definitely was a better drug abuser than Reed.

Polian is right about Reed and Monk. King is wrong about Irvin. He shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame just because he was lucky to be drafted by a team that received tons of draft picks in the Herschel Walker trade including the one used to draft Emmitt Smith, the primary reason for all of those Cowboys championships.


Post a Comment

<< Home