Saturday, February 02, 2008

2008 HOF debate: why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk

Six players are making the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008 (ESPN).

The most notable name is Art Monk, whom Washington fans have been enraged over for years.

Viking Cris Carter did not make it in, showing just how little the HOF selectors trust modern passing numbers. Carter is currently 2nd all-time in career receptions (1,102) and 2nd all-time in career touchdown receptions (130--almost twice Art Monk's 68). The selectors are right to be skeptical of those numbers, though; after all, Art Monk retired with a lot of career numbers that were soon obliterated, and so after a few years great cumulative numbers don't appear so impressive. Still, Carter had eight seasons with 9+ receiving touchdowns (Art Monk never had nine touchdown catches in a season: his career high was eight, which he did twice), eight seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards, and 10 seasons with 70+ receptions. He was a consistent statistical compiler. The big numbers just don't mean much for wide receivers anymore, because everybody has them; that's one reason Monk and Michael Irvin didn't get elected to the Hall in their first years of eligibility, either.

Last year I showed why Michael Irvin was a better wide receiver than Art Monk. A lot of the same arguments apply for Carter being superior to Monk. There are two key arguments:

Cris Carter compiled more quality seasons than Art Monk did.

When we compare Monk and Carter not to each other but to their respective contemporaries, Carter comes out the superior player.

Carter made eight Pro Bowls, Monk three. Carter was in the top-ten in receptions eight times, Monk four. Carter was top-ten in receiving yards five times, Monk three. And Carter was top-ten in touchdown receptions eight times (leading the league three times), while Monk was top-ten in touchdown receptions just once.

Look at it this way: Art Monk's top season ranking in touchdown receptions was 8th in 1991. Cris Carter ranked higher than that eight times: 3rd ('89), 5th ('93), 1st ('95), 5th ('96), 1st ('97), 4th ('98), 1st ('99), and 6th ('00).

Carter has better career numbers than Monk. Carter has more good seasons than Monk. And if you don't want to compare the actual numbers of players whose primes were in different decades, you can compare their rankings against their contemporaries. Carter was among the league leaders in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns much more often than Monk.

I'm glad Art Monk is now going to the Hall of Fame. But Cris Carter was a better wide receiver than Art Monk.


  1. Anonymous9:36 PM

    I can appreciate your opinions, however I'm not sure you are aware of all the facts and here's the case you can make for Art Monk. Art Monk was in a run first offense and also had to share his catches with another snub for the HOF Gary Clark...who by the way had 600 receptions in his 8 years with the Redskins all of them when Monk was playing. Cris Carter was a great receiver, he did however play in high powered offenses that passed first and only played with Randy Moss for 4 of those 12 years in Minnesota, which means he was the primary target for approx 8 years with average receivers. Chris Carter and Art Monk were also different receivers, Monk was also a strong blocker that assisted the hogs downfield with strong blocks and went over the middle and made first down's whenever his team needed it, not everything is about numbers. The HOF also appreciates the success of the team your on and Minnesota has not won any superbowls, so I guess you could ask the question "What has Chris Carter done in big games? if you haven't been in any big games then that mean's absolutely nothing. Art Monk deserves to be in the HOF and it's a great day for the NFL because he was a great player, great quiet leader and best of all great person and he was snubbed for years. Chris Carter is a shoe in next year and needs to wait his turn.

  2. football fan:

    I think you're about to start a spirited debate here among Vikings fans about the merits of the voters electing Monk to the Hall of Fame as opposed to Carter.

    Certainly Carter will get in eventually, just as Monk has. But I don't buy the "What had Cris Carter done in big games?" rationale for choosing Monk over Carter - if that was a deciding factor among voters and part of you're reasoning for why Monk gets to go in instead of Carter this year.

    What did Carter do in big games? According to the Pro Football Reference site, Carter played in 14playoff games, had 63 catches for 860 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Monk played in 15 playoff games and had 69 catches for 1,062 yards and seven touchdowns.

    Not much of a difference there.

    But, yes, Monk did play in more "big games" and, yes, the Redskins did win their Super Bowls. But football is a team game. Monk was very lucky to play on some great Redskins teams for a number of years. Carter wasn't so lucky. He played on only one great Vikings team (1998). That shouldn't be held against him. But like every great Vikings player, it is.

  3. I don't know if it speaks for him or against him, but in Cris Carter's entire tenure with the Vikes, there was always another good to great WR. When he came to the Vikes, Anthony Carter was finishing up his career; in the mid-90s, Carter teamed with Reed as an excellent combo; then at the end came Moss.

    Let's consider another argument against Monk. He played 16 seasons, but we'll exclude his last season when he only played three games. So in 15 seasons, he made 3 Pro Bowls. In his other 12 seasons, Monk's peers did not think he was among the four best players at his position, in his conference. The cumulative numbers can hide the fact that for most of his career, Monk was not recognized as a great player.

    I'm glad he's made the HOF, really, but it's not like he was just an obvious HOFer who was stupidly snubbed for years.

  4. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Carter will get in. Monk was more of a "role model" for his entire career and the voters remember these things. Carter had some early career issues and Ryan's "only catches touchdowns" comment is remembered, even though it was proven to be very wrong. Hard to live down labels sometimes.
    I was surprised Tippett got in before Carter or McDaniel?

  5. Anonymous11:13 AM

    The whole "Cris Carter will have to wait his turn" is exactly what happened in the vote, and why the whole thing was a complete sham. I firmly believe that a cadre of voters who have been pushing Art Monk made the decision to shut out Cris Carter to make sure their guy got elected first. Which is BS.

    Cris Carter, by every metric, was a better WR than Art Monk. The idea that Cris Carter should have to wait for election because Art Monk had to wait, or because Art Monk hadn't gone in yet is absurd.

    FF, you took some shots at Cris Carter suggesting that he wasn't a downfield blocker (not true), didn't go over the middle (again, not true), and didn't get 1st downs when his team needed it (insanity). Cris Carter to could it all, and during his prime was known for having the best hands in all of football. He was an absolute master at making the tight catch against the sidelines. It's now part of ever good/great receiver's arsenal, but when Cris Carter was playing he was a pioneer at making that catch falling out of bounds, dragging the toes just inside the stripe. What is common place now was a rarity when Cris Carter started doing it all the time.

    Carter's mates at WR during his career shouldn't be a drag against him. CC was the lead dog until Randy Moss came along, and even then he was the go-to guy to get a first down.

    The off the field stuff for Carter shouldn't have been an issue, as the Pro Football by-laws forbid discussion of it. Maybe the old "all he does is catch TDs" thing played in some idiot's mind, but that was turned into a long-running joke by everyone after just a few seasons with the Vikings.

    Cris Carter was punished by bitter Art Monk voters.

  6. I think the argument against Cris Carter this year (not that I think it should considered) is that Carter is not a first ballot HOFer. I know baseball writers and talking heads always love to talk about players as first ballot HOFers. Perhaps the voters did not think Carter was deserving of being elected in his first year of eligibility. This makes a little more sense in football as only a limited number of players can get in per season, but doesn't make much sense in baseball when a voter can vote for any and all players they want.

  7. Anonymous5:50 PM

    Anyone who watched the Vikings from 93-97 alone know how important and valuable Carter was. I remember a Thurs. night game in '94 that C.C., after dominanting the game, won with a 65-yard pass in OT over Chicago, which was the difference in the Vikes winning the div. that year. C.C. always produced in the big games, it was his teammates that couldn't keep up with him.

    I always thought Irvin didn't get it at first beacuse of his problems off the field, problems that C.C. didn't have in MN. I really don't think how anyone can attribute his production to the era he played in. It might skew his numbers in comparison to older recievers, but C.C. was always one of the most productive receivers of his time. I don't understand these HOF voters. First McDaniel and now Carter. Well, if they saw them play every game, season after season, then there would be no debate.

  8. Anonymous9:25 AM

    The idea that Carter will get in eventually is stupid. We don't know he will. He should have gotten in this year especially ahead of Monk.

    The idea of him being in a run first offense doesn't make sense either. Using that logic Peyton Manning's back up should be in the hall simply because the offensive coordinator didn't like using two quarterbacks. If he was that great of a player he would have gotten the ball more. It doesn't make any sense and in half as many seasons Clark put up about the same numbers, so it was possible.

    The Hall of Fame rarely gives us the opportunity to compare people one on one. This year they had the possibility and clearly got it wrong. Cris Carter was simply put a better receiver than Monk and should have been in. I can't help but believe that if he played in DC, New York, Dallas or Pittsburgh he would have gotten in.

  9. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Any reasonable football guy or gal for that matter clearly knows that Carter vs. Monk is a no brainer. Carter wins that 10 out of 10. The real issue at this point that we should be addressing is the vote process. Voters need to be held accountable for who they vote in and even more who they do not. If voters had to publicly address their votes they might be less prone to vote the way they do. The fact that they can hide behind the vote and give no explanation why when such questionable selections are made the same foolishness will continue. It is an honor to vote and should be respected. Those that do not vote justly, fairly, and equally without bias of any kind should not vote....
    A true recognition of greatness is when you are copied. Another person mentioned that Carter basically defined the sideline reception. He made it an art form to catch the rock and fall out of bounds. No one did it better.
    I believe he also has not been a "company guy" as far as the league sometimes questioning the way players are treated on Inside the NFL, possibly this is a factor also.
    Bottom line he is one of the greatest to EVER do it and Art Monk does not make the top 10!

    Tim Brown
    Don Hutson

  10. Anonymous3:03 AM

    Monk deserved to get in. Carter does to. But sometimes one player has to wait while maybe a less accomplished one gets in. That is if that player has waited for years to be enshrined.
    People need to quit being ticked over the fact he had gaudy stats, but hasn't been put in the hall yet. Better receivers from other eras haven't made it. Why aren't fans ticked over the fact those guys haven't made it yet.
    Lets face it he played in the biggest stat padding era ever.
    Those lists that claim Carter, Harrison, Owens, Brown, and Rice are all top ten alltime are laughable. Rice yes, but the others......
    Mark Clayton and Wes Chandler own just about everyone on those lists except Rice. Lofton had to wait to long and he owns Carter to.

  11. well this is a nice debate and I could spend all the evening and night talking about the reasons why Cris Carter is better than Art Monk, but unfortunately I gotta go run some errands!

    1. Anonymous1:28 PM

      I don't like that your all looking at the game in a statistical way versus impact....Michael Irvin had a much bigger impact on his team...the Cris Carter on his...same as Art Monk....anytime u win multi championships and ur a big reason for that it has to play a part....