Two Washington Redskins teammates highlighted the Pro Football Hall of Fame election – Darrell Green and Art Monk. Green and Monk, along with 4 other former NFL players, were elected into the Hall on Saturday. Other players joining Green and Monk included New England Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett, San Diego Chargers/San Francisco 49ers defensive end Fred Dean, Minnesota Vikings/Denver Broncos offensive tackle and the senior committee choice, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Emmitt Thomas.
Failing to get elected were former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Philadelphia Eagles/Minnesota Vikings/Miami Dolphins wide receiver Cris Carter, Washington Redskins guard Russ Grimm, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy, Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar, Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent, Miami Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas.
Monk was chosen in his eighth year of eligibility; Monk spent 14 seasons – 13 with Washington – as one of the NFL’s premier receivers. Monk held records for most games with a reception (164) and career catches (820); granted he didn’t play inan era where the offense was wide-open, but he was one of the most consistent possession and third-down receivers in the league. Green, one of the fastest and most skilled cornerbacks ever, spent 20 seasons (1983-2002) with the Washington Redskins. He holds the record for most consecutive seasons with an interception (19) and had 54 career interceptions for 621 yards and 6 TD’s; Green went to 7 Pro Bowls and is a member of the 1990’s All-Decade team.
Tippett, now the Patriots’ director of community affairs, was considered the best linebacker in the AFC when New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor rules the NFC. He was an outstanding pass rusher who could also handle pass coverage; in addition, he was proficient against the run. Dean was undersized at 230 pounds, yet was a feared pass rusher due to his outstanding speed and agility; he starred with the Chargers from 1975-81, then the 49ers from 1981-85.
Zimmerman was a standout offensive tackle for the Vikings from 1986-92 and the Broncos from 1993-1997; prior to joining the NFL, he made his reputation in the USFL (United States Football League). Thomas, who ironically was Green’s position coach for years with the Redskins, was an excellent bump-and-run and coverage cornerback with the Chiefs from 1966-78. He was the interim head coach for the Atlanta Falcons at the end of the 2007 season and was retained by the team as an assistant.
Of the names that were not selected, perhaps the most surprising was Tagliabue. I’m sure there were different reasons as to why he wasn’t elected, but in my opinion, his positives far outweighed his negatives; under Tagliabue’s watch, the NFL experienced no labor shortages, while its revenues from television contracts skyrocketed. There was also team expansions, with teams starting in Jacksonville, Charlotte, Cleveland and Houston; several teams moved into new stadiums – many of them built with public funds. But at the same time, many – including some reporters who are on the 44-member selection committee, found Tagliabue to be unapproachable. Again, I will say this: what Tags did for the league far outweighs any begatives he may have had. Just because Tags wasn’t exactly the most personable commissioner or league official shouldn’t automatically make him ineligible for election to the Hall.