Tuesday, January 30


I caught the end of X-Games XI two nights ago. It's amazing what these guys can do. Indeed. But any sport that relies on a panel of judges that can't do the tricks in question is pretty lame-o from a competitive standpoint. Don't get me wrong, the stuff is difficult--I once strapped on the skis (hey if Bode Miller can do it bent, right?) and turned the slopes into something similar to the Asian tsunami--but sell me videos or magazines or put it on FuelTV with punk rock and indie-rap, just don't tell me that the guy who did 14 spins and two flips is better than the guy who did 16 and a twist. By the way, the host of the X-Games was a brother. And his outro music was Sesame St. "one of these things is not like the other.."

Last night on ESPNduece I was irate when instead of the Sun's meeting a streak blocker in the form of Kevin Garnett, or T-Mack having a big game I was treated to arm wrestling. What? Luckily, ESPNclassico served a heaping plate of redemption showing their top 25 anger management moments; George Brett going berserk over pine tar, Zimmer getting bullied by Pedro, Tyson, Bobby Knight, Tyson, Bobby Knight and the coup-de-grace; Woody Hayes throwing a haymaker on a Clemson player during the game. Classic.

Super Bowl news is in every section of the paper. It's great. The St. Pete Times Biz section reveals today that Anheuser Busch has dropped $250.8 mil in a 20 year period on Super Bowl ads. Pepsi comes in second with $190 mil and if I remember correctly about $170 mil of that was absolutely terrible. At some point don't you think the people who drink Bud and Pepsi are going to continue to? Or are people sitting in front of the Coke and Pepsi in Food Lion going, "I don't know man, those flying geese were pretty freaking sweet, better make it Pepsi." (or John Mark Carr saying "Well, if that little girl with curly hair drinks it.."

MEANWHILE...the Wizards are blowing a 10 point lead...now missing three free throws in the last 30 seconds...Prince misses the jumper with 13 seconds left...Arenas (36 pts) ices it with 2 free throws. Game set match. 104 - 99

UPDATE: I caught a Caron Butler interview after the game; the guy dropped 11 "You know"s in answering one question. Wow. Also the Wizards need a name change now, before the playoffs. I propose to have the players vote on it like little league soccer where yellow meant Yellow Jackets, green meant Hurricanes, etc..

Sunday, January 28

Suberbowl Sleepers

This week, Sporting Naz will be bringing you best in Superbowl commentary and crystal balling. We'll start with a look at some of the Bears wildcard factors this coming Sunday.

#1 SPRex
My sources within the Bears organization tell me that they are deeply concerned about Rex Grossman, and with good reason. Rex is one of the pastiest players in the league (though he is among the least ashy) and a week gallivanting about in the South Beach sun could leave him in poor condition for Sunday's game. When asked to comment Rex replied, "I played freaking football in Florida, I know how to handle the sun. Once I get that initial burn out of the way I darken up really well." After looking at this old photo of Rex in a Gator program I can't help but agree. Regardless, the Bears organization has hired one of the few remaining Honey Bears not dead from Jim McMahon venereal diseases to shadow Grossman and apply his prescription SPF 80.

#2 Brian Griese
The former Miami quarterback may be the single biggest impediment between the Bears and their second Superbowl trophy. Griese will no doubt be stuck in his father's shadow this week, hearing constantly from those in Miami longing for a return to their undefeated ways and the glory of Bob Griese going a Orton-esque 6 for 7 in route to a win in Supberbowl VIII. The infamously lush younger Griese, once an undefeated national champion at Michigan, may have a few too many and decide he's had enough of being the best backup in the NFL. He could force the issue by stealing a play from (Oregon-born) Tonya Harding. A prediction; the image of Griese tearful holding his broken cleat before the back judge seconds before being sacked by Dwight Freeney will be indelibly seared into the mind of every Bears fan for all of Bearturniy.

#3 Tank, meet Sean
Tank Johnson, on reprieve from his probation sentence may meet-up with known gun-touting Redskin and Miami native, Sean Taylor. Fireworks may follow, can the Bears overcome the distraction?

#4 Rivera-gonna-be-a-head-coach?
The Bear's defensive coordinator is 0 for 6 in this year's head coaching carousel. After getting the snub following his recent interview in Big-D, Rivera may try to prove the haters wrong...by blitzing every player on every play of the entire game. The quick thinking Manning may have a field day with this raging coach's scheme.

#5 The Shaqtor
Jon, Sporting Naz contributor yet to contribute, is a personal friend of Shaq, who could use his stature to distract the Colts before game time. Will Jon dial in a favor with his brother from another mother?

Federer vs Woods, continued.

Between crying wolf and yelling fire ESPN sometimes does decent reporting, who the hell knew?

Friday, January 26


Hows bouts a little love for tennis and the Aussie Open? Why you may ask? Why not? Other than being a great sport -- and even a pretty good one to watch in my mind -- a level of excellence and almost complete dominance is continuing to roll through the ranks at a clip that perhaps surpasses anyone else in any sport.

Tiger Woods, Brady and the Pats, Michael Jordan...in this country these are the guys getting the pub when you ask most people who they feel has been the most dominant teams/athletes of our generation. Though El Tigre may still be my answer for now, Roger Federer's the other name that can challenge for that distinguishment.

After totally dismantling Andy Roddick in straight sets, Federer's on pace for his 10th Grand Slam title since 2003. He's also won 45 singles championships. Like Agassi, his only knock is not being able to win the French Open...yet. And with the way he tends to roll through fields, it's almost impossible not to include him in this conversation. Like Tiger while he is still in the midst of his career and like Mike while he was still playing, plenty of people worldwide are already debating whether Federer is the greatest EVER. Maybe it's his modest, unassuming attitude and appearance (he's Swiss, what else would you expect) that keeps him from receiving the attention he deserves...or maybe because it is, afterall, tennis.

Regardless, the dude needs props because he tears it up all over the court with nearly flawless execution.


Friday Link-o-Rama

A perfect take down of a hindsight sports columnist. Winners Win Because They're Winning Winners. Amen.

The PC Police make an arrest. Thug: now a racial slur?

A player cut from the Bungles caught on film? Judging from his agility I'd say yes. Also, If I was going to rob a store I'd dress like the freaking Hamburglar; with a sack, invisible powder and all sorts of escape gadgets. But I guess I'm just old school.

Finally, listening to some tunage today I realized B.B. King hasn't just influenced millions of Blues musicians, but gangster rap also. B.B lyrics vs Snoop Dogg CD.

I stood there at the consistently mediocre Beef O’ Brady’s, tugging my hair and shouting expletives while my eyes laid glued to the AFC Championship game. The game itself had begun just like any other Patriots Colts postseason matchup, with the Pats dominating every aspect of the game, something that I had gotten quite accustomed to over my years of following the patriots. The second half was a complete meltdown of the patriots secondary, and for that matter, a changing of the guard in the AFC. It was almost as if the Peyton Manning and the colts had just watched that 70’s movie Network, assuring themselves they were “mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore!” The colts turned the table, forcing Brady and the Pats to several three and outs and converting on plays when it mattered. I walked out of the restaurant fittingly name “Beef O’ Brady’s” in total shock of the game my team had just played. I thought about the loss for days; losing sleep and almost going on a hunger strike in disapproval of the loss. It was without a doubt, the most heartbreaking loss I have endured as a fan of any team. One of my friends tried comparing it to USF’s loss, a game which receiver Amp Hill dropped a sure two point conversion to prevent USF from upsetting the no. 15 team in the nation at the time. I saw no similarities to this loss because I was just so proud of the season that USF had that year to even compare to the Pats loss. As I thought about it more, I came to a similar realization; realizing that even though the Pats will not be in the Superbowl this year, (FUCK!!!) they had a terrific season. In the face of countless injury and roster depth problems, the Pats managed to beat some of the elite teams in the NFL and finish with a respectable 12-4 season. Have I been spoiled as a patriots fan? Absolutely. However, I am optimistic of our future; realizing that we tore apart defenses with guys like Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney and shut down offenses with cornerbacks and safeties off the street. I guess what I am trying to say as long as we have number 12 and that grumpy coach in the cutoff sweatshirt on the sidelines, the rest of the league should not only fear but show respect to the team of the decade, the New England Patriots.


Thursday, January 25

Guest Blogger

In just one short day of blogging I am proud to say that Sporting Naz has convinced an American hero, a true competitor to submit a post for our blog. Ladies and Gentlemen; Floyd Landis.

Floyd Landis here. Or as I was known with teammates on my former cycling team-that-shall-not-legally-be-named, Floyd Lan-dogg. Bark, bark, bitches. I want to use this broad and widely read forum to talk about a very important issue, that issue being the media rush to judgment and it's culpability in ruining reputations.

As you may be aware, I was subject to a viscous slander after winning the Tour de France; the false allegation that I used steroids. My life was ruined. My wife left me. Everything, lost. And now the same has happened to a good friend of mine, Michael Vick.

A man without peers, Mike has typified proper NFL behavior since joining the league. He has promoted community and civility in the birthplace of kindness, Atlanta, and has been a positive role model for his younger brother, inmate #45563. But after the Miami airport pot incident and the subsequent media rumor frenzy, all he's worked for and built is gone. Destroyed in a few short sound bytes. Bye, bye, bye. It makes me sick to watch the destruction of yet another great man, like myself, and the media should be ashamed.

I tried calling Mike to get a comment for my post, and to find out where I could purchase a water bottle with a secret compartment, but unfortunately the number Jim Mora gave me was incorrect--the person on the line was speaking some sort of mumbley-jumbley foreign language. Couldn't understand a damn thing they said. But Mike would have likely said something like, "You know, man, the media is out to get me, man, and you know, you know?" and me, Floyd Landis, I agree. Godspeed, Michael.

As for the allegations regarding his behavior as 'Ron Mexico,' to that I say, 'so what?' Who amongst us doesn't have some form of VD nowadays? I once borrowed Lance Armstrong's bike and the seat gave me crabs that burrowed so far up my ass they turned to head lice. How do you think I pedaled so fast in the mountain stage? Better crabs than ball cancer.

Before I go and fulfill this reoccurring urge to destroy objects in my house, I want to mourn the passing of a hero of mine, Scott 'Bam Bam' Bigelow. I was always drawn to wrestling, watching men who, like me, suffer from naturally high levels of testosterone. Their athleticism, their strength ; wrestlers are a beauty to behold, a testament to their hard work and natural living. It was an honor to watch the 400 pound Bam Bam fly to from the top ropes, placing his tattooed skull into an opponents crotch, and his antics will be missed by me, Floyd Landis.
-Flyod Landis, www.floydlandis.com

The Bungles...

Who-Dey?...Yeah, the dudes with the ankle bracelets, what the hell is that? Ohhh it's never a good thing when one of your supporting WR's is serving a jail sentence...or the other EIGHT guys who couldn't quite decipher between right or wrong when it comes to the everyday quagmires we all run into, like, "Should I beat my wife right now?" or "Is drunken boating a smart decision?" or the ever-present "Should I commit grand theft burglary tonight?"...at least they're familiar with wearing orange

If once is an aberration, twice is coincidence and thrice is the beginning of a pattern...where the F does this fall? Nine? Including FIVE alone by Chris Henry himself? I'm just waiting for the Vegas gambling prospects to start rolling out now: "Which will be a higher figure, 2007 Devil Rays total wins or total team arrests for Bengals players in the 2007 calendar year?" D-Rays got a lotta young talent, but goddamn Cincy's loaded on this one...

Speaking of loaded, and speaking of predictions, I don't know how the hell they've averted the almost commonplace "weapons charge"...Next Bungle arrest: unlawful possession of a firearm...any takers?

Wednesday, January 24

Melo and AI

A prediction; Melo and A.I. will set the new high mark for most combined points in an NBA game (the current record occurred in a 3 OT game, Denver vs. Detroit, December 13, 1983. Vandeweghe 51, English 47.).

In the same game they will also set the record for most nuh-bombs dropped in a single season.

Whatever happens with this duo, I just want to make sure I get tickets for free tattoo night at the Pepsi Center.

Welcome to Sporting Naz

In honor of Jon and his team, making their first Superbowl appearance in twenty years, here is a video from the glory days. Let's just say the winner shall be a certain team, from a certain Midwestern town that starts with a C, ends in an O and in the middle is 'hicag.'

edit: I appears that the 'Da Super fans' video I posted has been pulled. So NBC was fine with having this on YouTube for a while, but now that the Bears are in the Superbowl and people are searching for things like this they pull the video? Ridiculous. What's the point of YouTube if you can't watch clips from old TV shows? I guess only Ghostriding.

Friday, January 19

Wednesday, January 3

Same Case for Art Monk, cont.


As sporting history expands, so expands the list of sport’s ‘What the hell’ moments;

Cubs: What the hell part of his arm is hurt?
John Daly: What the hell are these clubs for again?
Chargers: Ryan Leaf? What the hell were we thinking?
Mike Tyson: What the hell is on my face?

Recent history has also unkindly granted the Washington Redskins a WTHM, as former coaches, players and millions of fans rally behind one question: What the hell is keeping Art Monk out of the Hall of Fame?

Unfortunately, that question can only be answered by the forty people who make up the Hall of Fame induction committee.

Unlike baseball’s large 500 person voting body, the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame relies on 40 sportswriters casting their ballots in secret. The word secret conjures images of the group, wrapped in their 41 plush velvet robes (Len Pasquarelli wears two, Velcroed together in the back), as they gather among burning candles and incense, discussing selections with the utmost seriousness and aplomb.

It’s all very hush-hush, similar to the selection of the Pope, though with many more people paying serious attention to the outcome.

Due to this process being so Illuminati in nature I called Dan Brown for help in solving this Art Monk mystery. My call was unreturned. Confidence shaken, yet still determined I decided to dive into the stat books alone to look for an answer, but first I needed to define the larger question: what the hell does take to become a HOF wide receiver?

Before you know where you’re going, you have to know how to get there.

There are six Hall of Fame WR’s whose careers overlapped or ran parallel (Swann, Stallworth, Joiner, Largent, Lofton, Irvin) to Monk’s – and it’s these 6 and only these 6 that I’ll base my conclusions from. Looking at their career totals and finding the average should give a very crude approximation of a Hall of Fame WR’s statistics. It’s far from perfect, but it’s starting point.

Our average Hall of Famer is named Fall O’Hamer (known as the Intrepid Irishman by fans of his team, the Imagineville Invisibles). All we have documenting the career of O’Hamer -- the exact middle of the aforementioned players enshrined at Canton -- are his individual stats. His quarterback was Joe Anybody, his coach was Ran Domperson and his physical abilities are likewise unknown. Fall O’Hamer could’ve been a raging whiskey boozer and wife abuser, he may have spent his off the field time curing cancer and saving children from stampedes of Giraffes -- we don’t know any of this, we only have these:

Fall O’Hamer, career totals:
185.2 games / 659.3 receptions / 10,888 yards / 16.48 y/c / 69.8 TD

Art Monk, career totals:
224 / 940 / 12,721 / 13.5 / 68

Monk’s regular season career stacks up rather nicely with O’Hamer’s, but, he did play in 40 more games, which could favor Monk in compiling receptions and yardage.

O’Hamer, per game:
3.6 rec / 58.8 yds / .5 TD

Monk, per game:
4.2 rec / 56.8 yds / .3 TD

It appears based on the average Hall of Fame WR’s naked career stats that Monk deserves a sport in the hall.

Better than some, less than others -- an average Hall of Fame wide receiver.

Unless, of course, you’re hung up the fact the Fall O’Hamer’s average yards per catch was 3 yards larger than Monks. Which would make you, simply stated, a football buffoon.

Are longer catches inherently better than their shorter brethren?

Was Jerry Rice (14.8 y/c) less of a receiver than James Lofton (18.3 y/c)?

For a modern perspective; is Reggie Wayne (14.0) a “better” receiver than Marvin Harrison (13.4)?

While a poll of former players could answer which routes they prefer running, deep or short, and which are harder to run (and common sense seems to dictate that shorter routes would entail greater physical punishment); it still doesn’t answer the fundamental question – are longer catches better?

Ignoring the obvious fact that wide receivers have various roles on their team and are therefore utilized in different ways, ignoring, also, the vast difference in coaching philosophies and ignoring that a receiver’s route is (for the most part) not chosen by him – the answer to which catches are more valuable (to team success, for which all individual performance exists to provide) lay in another question – what happened over the course of the game?

Sometimes a long pass, or a receiver breaking a tackle for a big gain, are hugely important for the team, other times those drives fizzle out and the catch becomes just a meaningless big play.

Sometimes a receiver makes several 5 yard catches, as a measure of personal success fairly meaningless, but as a measure of team success they could be monumental if they occurred on third down and helped sustain a long drive. Simply stated; several short catches could be the difference in winning or losing.

Sometimes a receiver makes an impact without making a catch; be it a block, or drawing double coverage to leave another receiver open, impacts that can’t be recorded on stat sheets but are represented in the team winning. Just think of an average Sunday watching your team play. Over the course of a game, any number of plays can make the difference and stats sometimes do a paltry job of quantifying that difference.

Because a players team worth is often irreverent to his statistical worth, the only way to actually quantify a players impact on a team is to watch and analyze each play, and, given that this is highly improbable when considering Hall of Fame players, the next best approach would be extensively interviewing former teammates and coaches and former opposing players and coaches and see how they valued that player. In fact putting some former players on the committee wouldn’t be a bad idea, though, they’d have to spring for some new robes.

That said, aside from yards per catch, Monk has the necessary career numbers, without a doubt, so there must be more to this Hall of Fame puzzle. What the hell else could there be?

What Canton Has To Say

Though the Pro Football Hall of Fame has no say in the enshrinement process, we can look at how it advertises its wide receivers, gleaning from that the things that may vault a player with the basic core stats into the hall. From the Hall of Fame website:

Lynn Swann
Steelers’ first-round draft pick, 1974…Caught game-winning touchdown in AFC championship as rookie. . .Became starting receiver second season, led NFL with 11 touchdown receptions. . . MVP, Super Bowl X. . . Graceful moves, tremendous leaping ability led to superlative catches that highlighted career. . .All-Pro, 1975, 1977, 1978. . .Played in three Pro Bowls. . .

Blessed with gazelle-like speed, (It really says that. Gazelle. Depending on the species gazelles can hit 50mph, humans top out at 26 mph. So unless the gazelle in question has been shot, the Hall of Fame is using an absurd platitude to describe an inductee. That may explain a lot. )

Steve Largent

187-pound wide receiver with only average size and speed but armed with exceptional determination and concentration, became one of history's most outstanding pass catchers during his 14-season, 200-game career with the Seattle Seahawks from 1976 to 1989.

At the time of his retirement, he held six major career pass receiving records – most receptions (819), most consecutive games with a reception (177), most yards on receptions (13,089), most touchdowns on receptions (100), most seasons with 50 or more receptions (10) and most seasons with 1,000 yards or more on receptions (8). An NFL Man of the Year winner in 1988, Largent also was a positive force off the field.

John Stallworth
Played in six AFC championship games, four Super Bowls. . . Scored winning TD on 73-yard reception, Super Bowl XIV. . . Career statistics: 537 receptions for 8,723 yards, 63 TDs. . .All-Pro, 1979. . .All-AFC, 1979, 1984. . .Played in four Pro Bowl games. . . Two-time Steelers MVP. .

Charlie Joiner
Played pro football for 18 years, longer than any other wide receiver in history at the time of his retirement. When he retired at the age of 39 after the 1986 season with the San Diego Chargers, he ranked as the leading receiver of all-time with 750 catches.

Blessed with excellent speed and tantalizing moves, Joiner averaged 16.2 yards per catch and accounted for 12,146 yards and 65 touchdowns on his receptions. He ranked sixth in career reception yardage
….was once described by San Francisco 49ers coaching great Bill Walsh as “the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known.”

James Lofton
. .Selected by Green Bay in 1st round (6th player overall) of 1978 NFL Draft. . .A deep-threat receiver, possessed both speed and great hands. . .recorded more than 50 receptions in a season nine times. . .First NFL player to score a touchdown in 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. . .In 16 seasons, he caught 764 passes for 14,004 yards - an NFL record at the time of his retirement. . .Named All-Pro four times, All-NFC three times, selected to play in eight Pro Bowls. .

In 13 playoff game appearances, Lofton caught 41 passes for 759 yards and eight touchdowns, including a seven-reception game in Super Bowl XXVI. In three of those playoff games he recorded 100-yard plus performances.

Michael Irvin
Cowboys' first round pick in 1988 draft. . .Led league with 1,523 yards on 93 catches, 1991. . .Selected to five straight Pro Bowls. . . Recorded 1,000-yard seasons in all but one year from 1991-1998 . . . Set NFL record eleven 100-yard games, 1995. . .750 career receptions for 11,904 yards, 65 TDs. . .Named to NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s

In 1995, Irvin recorded his finest season as he caught 111 passes for 1,603 yards. He also established an NFL record with eleven 100-yard games, and scored 10 touchdowns. His outstanding play continued during that year's post-season. In the Cowboys' 38-27 win over the Green Bay Packers in the 1995 NFC Championship Game, Irvin had seven receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He capped off the year with five catches for 76 yards in Dallas's 27-17 victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

Culling some of the various repeated themes in each bio creates this makeshift HoF checklist:

First-Round Pick: Check.
Longevity: Only Joiner and Lofton have more games. Check
Set club rookie record: Most receptions (58). Check.
Held a record: Receptions in a season (106, in 1984, previous record set in 1964), career receptions (920, which broke Largent’s record, who had broken the previous record set by Joiner). Check.
Retired with a record: Consecutive games with a reception (178, breaking Largent’s record). Check.
Named Team MVP: Check.
NFL All-Decade Team: Named to the All-80’s team. Check
Three or more Pro-Bowls: Appeared in three. Check.
All-Time Ranking: 6th in receptions (above Largent), 11th in receiving yards (above Joiner). Check.
Winning team: Check
Super Bowl win: Check.
Positive force off the field: Check.
Bill Walsh quote: “I think he’s a hall of fame player…He’s a sound player, generally injury free, with great stamina – he’s excellent at the end of the season. So, I can’t help but think he’d be a hall of fame player.” Check.

Monk shares a common component with almost every Hall of Famer and where Monk lacks, so too lacks another Hall of Famer. Monk’s 3 pro-bowl appearances are least among the current members, but he shares the title with Swann and Joiner. Putting the premium on yards over receptions (a possible fool’s errand as previously discussed) Monk is least among these members, only cracking the leagues top-10 receiving yardage 3 different seasons, again, a title he shares with Swann and Joiner.
In effect, looking at these miscellaneous defining characteristics, you can’t argue against Monk’s induction without arguing against a current member.


…it seems as though Canton puts a premium on the post season and on the Super Bowl in particular. How does Monk stack up in post-season games? Luckily our completely average HoF member O’Hamer has some post-season stats:

12.83 g / 48.5 rec / 848.33 yds / 17.49 yc / 7.66 TD / 8.5 wins / 4.33 loses /.662 win%

15 g / 69 rec / 1062 yds / 15.39 ypc / 7 TD / 10 wins / 5 loses / .667 win%

Per game:
Hamer: 3.8 rec / 66. 2 yds / .6 TD
Monk: 4.6 rec / 70.8 yds / .5 TD

Monk measures up quite well, and, like O’Hamer, Monk’s yards per catch jumps by 2 yards in the post season.

Which leaves only the Super Bowl, the possible Holy Grail of Hall of Fame consideration.

Monk never managed to score in his 3 Super Bowl appearances and, considering Stallworth and Swann may be in the Hall solely for their scoring in Super Bowl’s, this could be one of Monk’s greatest hindrances.

Insofar as the Hall is named “Fame” (which has a much nicer ring than “Hall of Outstanding Career Play”) and the Super Bowl is football’s most famous game, the idea of holding that game above all others does make sense -- but how much sense?
Of the four members to appear in Super Bowl’s, Irvin, Stallworth and Swann scored multiple touchdowns, James Lofton, however, failed to score at all. In his website description, Canton skirts this inconvenient truth with this description: “including a seven-reception game in Super Bowl XXVI.” Monk happened to play in that same Super Bowl, XXVI, and also recorded 7 receptions, his for 113 yards (20 more than Lofton)(he also narrowly missed a touchdown after instant replay ruled him out of bounds) – not only did he outperform Lofton, his team won. Canton mentions Lofton’s “three…playoff games [where] he recorded 100-yard plus performances,” yet Monk has 4 playoff games with 100-yard plus, behind only Irvin (6) and Stallworth (5).

Despite achieving beyond Lofton in the post-season, Monk’s real problem (in the voter’s eyes) could be his presence in a Super Bowl that set multiple records for offensive production, without producing himself.

The second quarter of Super Bowl XXII featured more offense than any other quarter in post-season history; 35 points and 356 total yards. But underneath these staggering numbers is this: the preponderance of the offense, including five touchdowns, happened in 18 plays, 5 minutes and 47 seconds. It’s not as though this was a prolonged drubbing and Monk failed to get involved, it was 18 offensive plays. Redskins’ receiver Ricky Sanders was the hot hand and the Redskins played that hand, repeatedly, to the tune of 9 catches 193 yards. Should Monk be penalized or blamed for his team finding strategy that worked, whether from a mismatch or Ricky drinking magic touchdown juice, and because it worked not varying from that strategy until the game was won? Isn’t the goal of every player to win the game, whether on the back of your own skill or a teammate’s skill?

By the game’s end the Washington receiving core had 13 receptions for an astonishing 22.15 yards per catch, Monks contribution; 1 catch 40 yards (hey, he finally got that y/p up to the…well…the stratosphere). It seems unlikely but that tiny contribution to a big game could be the big obstacle in Monk’s path to the Hall of Fame.

Another problem with Monk’s lack of “memorable” Super Bowl play is not only his famously quiet demeanor, but the fact he participated in three Super Bowl blowouts; a lopsided loss and two lopsided wins, games that were (mostly) decided before halftime and therefore had little resonation with the viewers (outside of Doug Williams holding the Lombardi trophy). And, where other receivers may’ve begged their coaches for an opportunity to share the glory in the game’s meaningless remaining minutes, it’s a safe bet that Monk continued to do as he was asked, relishing the team win, unconcerned with personal statistics.

Putting individual performance in the Super Bowl, a game that is overwhelmingly about team performance (even more so than regular season games), on a much higher pedestal seems preposterous on its face. Rewarding players that played in close games or made catches in the final minutes, catches that will be relived on TV replays for years, may have merit, but just how much can be determined only by the 40 voters.

The other recurring theme in the player bios that Monk doesn’t match up with is the number of times leading the league in yardage. Unlike many of those enshrined Monk does lack any league leading yardage, and true enough, he only was in the top-ten for yardage 3 times, which is tied for last (Swann, Joiner) among the 6 current HoF receivers. But a better, more revealing question is how Monk compares with the yardage leaders over his career, and more importantly, how do Monk’s yards as a percentage of his team’s yardage compare with the inductees, after all, a player’s performance is tied directly to his team’s.

The Juicy Stat Stuff

Before matching into the stats on a comparative basis, I need to make it clear that we’re assuming the following to be true:

All receptions were of equal importance (including TDs (a quick note on TDs: even if a catch in that special 10 yards of field is considerably better than a catch in the other 100, there is no statistical pattern present to indicate that this number is tied to a WRs controllable skill level, rather, it appears to merely be a function of coaching philosophy and chance. Example: 1987; Jerry Rice catches 22 TDs, 1988; he catches 9. In ‘88, Rice had 3,000 more yards than and 4 more games than ‘87, yet he caught 13 less TDs. Did his red zone skill simply dissipate for a season (only to return and leave again, over and over, for his entire career)? Coincidently, these same seasons of Rice’s cast doubt on yardage being a function of a WR’s controllable skill as he had one less reception in ’88 but managed to increase his yards per catch by 4 (16.6 to 20.4). But I digress…) – let me repeat, all receptions were of equal importance. (FUN FACT: Two-thirds of Monk’s catches came on 3rd down)

All quarterbacks were of equal skill (FUN FACT: Monk played without a Hall of Fame QB, of the 6 HoF members only Steve Largent shares this distinction (though Lofton played the bulk of his career without one)).

All teammates were of equal skill, including the wide receivers (FUN FACT: Monk shared the field with an 1,000 yard receiving teammate 6 times, 2 of which occurred in the same season, making that receiving trio the first in history to each have 1,000 yards in a season. Of the 6 HoF members, Joiner played 3 seasons with an 1,000 receiver and Lofton played with only one (with possible future Hall of Famer Andre Reed, who, like Monk, put up great career numbers with 13 yards per catch. If you look at Lofton’s years with the Bills his numbers dropped when sharing his yardage with Reed)).

For the most part we’re assuming that all game plans were equal (FUN FACT: This isn’t true either! Chart in appendix)

That said, let’s get comparing.

Since their careers differed in length and due to various injury shortened seasons we’re comparing averages of the player’s best 7 seasons (except for Stallworth who because of his Great Super Bowl Performance Quotient get’s to be compared with an average of his 5 best years – well, that and he only had 5 “great” seasons). I tried to keep the seasons clustered but in several cases made huge jumps to include better years.

Why seven seasons?

Because players with long careers are sometimes accused of simply “compiling” numbers it’s important to examine the best years of each player on a smaller scale. Looking at all the careers together, 7 seemed like a good representative number. For some it would be a disservice to include more than 7 while for others it would be a disservice to include less, but all managed 7 fairly productive years. It seemed like a very equitable middle ground on which to make comparisons. All except Lynn Swann, his Great Super Bowl Performance Quotient was so high that we’re not comparing him at all; it wouldn’t be much of a comparison considering he had 2, maybe 3 “great” regular seasons.

Our first comparison is the player’s yardage per season as weighted against that season’s average Top-10 receiver’s yardage, which will be fixed at 100. This will account for the difference in play each season over the twenty year span. For example: in 1979 the average yardage of the 10 league leaders was 1093.1, in 1995 it was 1522.4. Weighed against each year’s top-10 average, John Stallworth’s 1183 yards in 1979 is represented as 108.22, Michael Irvin’s 1603 yards in 1995 becomes 110. So in 1979 Stallworth was 8.2% better than the average top-10 receiver, in 1995 Irvin was 10% better than the fictional player sitting at 5.5 on the league leader’s chart. Ultimately, the percentage is not what’s important, only the how relatively good each player is when compared with their contemporaries.

Here’s the 7 year average of those top-10 weighted numbers for each player (click on chart to enlarge):

Unsurprisingly -- given his lack of yardage leading years -- Monk lags significantly behind several of the Hall of Fame members. But he’s not without company. Joiner is only about 1% closer to the top-ten average and Stallworth not far ahead of that. But without looking at each member’s yardage as a percentage of team performance, do these numbers even hold much meaning? Is it possible to compare Monk to the league if we don’t know how he compared to his own team?

The next chart shows just that, comparing each member’s percentage of their teams passing yards, averaged over their 7 best seasons:

In this chart Monk gains ground on all of the member’s, even surpassing Joiner whose high-flying Charger offense generated tons of passing yardage, not only for him but for the entire team. This gives slight context to the statistical vacuum, other than Irvin, who accounted for almost 40% of his team’s passing yards, Monk was almost equally important to his team, from passing yard standpoint, as the other Hall of Fame members were to their own.. How important was he as a percentage of the team’s total yards?

The next chart is similar but this time uses the team’s total yards from scrimmage and the player’s percentage of those yards, averaged, again, over his 7 best seasons:

Now Monk has overtaken Stallworth and is almost equal to Largent and Lofton. Even Irvin, because of the preeminent rushing of Emmitt Smith, nears the pack. In fact, as dominant as Irvin was, he never led his team in yards from scrimmage where Monk held that distinction twice. What this chart shows is that, regardless of how many yards Largent or Lofton provided relative to the league, they were only 21% of their respective teams. Monk provided his team with 19% of their total, and over this span his team won three (two in the 7 seasons averaged here) Super Bowls.

The next chart will address another problem that seems to plague Monk, the fact he sometimes wasn’t the leading receiver on his own team! How could he be a Hall of Famer when he sometimes failed to best on his team? This is where receptions become important because a QB -- and by extension the play caller or head coach – has no control over the ball once it leaves his hand. When he throws the ball he has no idea how many yards after the catch the receiver will make and because we, without examining each pass, have no idea which receptions were long passes or which were short passes broken for long gains, we can look at the one thing the QB can control; who the ball is thrown to. How many times the ball was thrown to the receiver as a percentage of the team’s total competitions should give us one of the most important stats of all; how much the team valued the player in their passing game:

As you can see Monk has overtaken everyone and is in a virtual tie with Irvin. Despite accounting for almost 40% of his team's passing yards the ball only made it to Irvin 28% of time. Monk’s % of his teams passing yards almost directly correspond with his % of the team’s receptions. In short, Monk’s Redskins threw the ball to him as often as Irvin’s Cowboys threw the ball to him and more than any of the remaining Hall of Fame members.

The final chart is the most unsurprising of them all but important, nonetheless, because it illustrates Monk’s most prolific skill: catching the football. Similar to the first chart, this is a weighted average; where 100 represents the average top-10 reception total, and the player’s number is the average of his 7 seasons relative to that top-10 number in each individual season:

As you can see Monk’s strength is borne out in a high relative %, and it’s important to note this is not just as a lifelong compiler but his best seasons as a compared to the other Hall of Famer’s best seasons. Tit for tat Monk caught more balls relative to his peers than any member of the Hall of Fame. Whether the Hall of Fame voter reward this accomplishment, among many others, remains to be seen.


Notes and Disclaimers:

1. The years used were chosen by me and may not be the most productive. If you think a better year should have been used, do it yourself. The years for each player were:
Charlie Jonier: 1976, 1979 – 1981, 1983 – 1985
John Stallworth: 1978, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1985
Steve Largent: 1978 – 1981, 1983 -1985
James Lofton: 1979 – 1981, 1983 – 1985, 1991
Michael Irvin: 1991 – 1995, 1997, 1998
Art Monk: 1984 – 1986, 1988 - 1991

2. Most stats are from http://www.pro-football-reference.com . These stats are not necessarily accurate, as the site disclaims (read: blame him, not me) and my transcribing them may be equally inaccurate (read: blame me, not him). However, it’s doubtful than any one error is so egregious as to effect the argument or data as a whole.

3. Other websites were helpful in providing information or game clarification:

4. All averages and charts were calculated and made by me and therefore could be completely inaccurate. If this is the case the fault rests with my years navigating through the Virginia public school system in a dirigible constructed of a short attention span and daydreams. If such a mistake exists, my 10th grade math teacher – the asshole that he was -- is the true culprit, blame him.

5. I’m just a guy; not a mathematician or statistician. Hell, my college was an art school. If you’re hell bent on debunking this do it all yourself. But please, don’t give me shit for my honest mistakes.


These charts show the player's Team's average passing rank for the 7 seasons in comparison. The first shows the team’s average yardage NFL rank, the second shows the team’s average yards per catch NFL rank (the smaller the bar, the better the ranking):

Because of the cluster (excluding Joiner) it’s more difficult to draw any conclusions from these charts. There are also many possibilities for what these rankings mean, if they mean anything at all. Here are a few of the many possible scenarios:

Yardage Rank

- That Joiner, and to a lesser extent Monk, benefited from high yardage offenses, while the remaining players put up great personal numbers in offense that accumulated an NFL average amount of passing yards

- That Joiner’s and Monk’s percentage of their teams passing yardage is of greater importance because they played on teams with a top-10 passing attack. Irvin’s 37% of his team’s passing yards helped his stats, but not the team’s.

- That Stallworth and Irvin’s presence never helped their team have anything other than an average passing attack

- That the Chargers and Redskins’ top-10 passing attacks help Joiner (considerably) and Monk become top-10 receivers.

- That the team’s rankings have zero significance to the individual’s stats

Yards per Catch Ranking

- That Largent, Lofton and Monk’s teams threw many more shorter routes as a percentage of their passes (which would explain Largent and Lofton’s lower percentage of the team receptions) which hurt their personal yards per catch stats

- That Joiner, Stallworth and Irvin’s teams threw longer passes which helped each player’s personal yards per catch.

- That the teams threw their longer or shorter passes based on the skills of their star receivers

- That the team rankings have zero significance to the individual’s stats

Either way, because Monk’s Redskins are not at either the high or low end of the rankings, it’s doubtful these could hurt Monk’s HoF campaign without arguing against a current inductee.