Support for Art Monk's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame has taken a surprising turn.
Sports Illustrated columnist and Hall of Fame voter Peter King has long argued against Monk's induction. On Monday, in a column published on SI.com, King reversed course.
Wrote King in his column: "Not only did [Monk] 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."
Monk played 16 seasons in the NFL--his first 14 with the Redskins--and caught 940 passes for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns. He earned three Pro Bowl nods and finished his career as the NFL's all-time leading receiver.
Previously, King questioned Monk's impact on a Redskins team that relied on a strong ground game through most of the 1980s. He also argued that opposing defensive coordinators feared fellow wide receiver Gary Clark more than Monk.
Last week, King spoke with Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs about Monk. Gibbs, a Hall of Famer himself, was Monk's coach from 1981-93.
During his Monday press conference at Redskins Park, Gibbs spoke at length about Monk and his conversation with King.
"It was a great conversation and I appreciate Peter's attitude," Gibbs said. "We looked first at the stats. In a lot of cases, Art's stats double the stats of [wide receivers] who are in the Hall of Fame.
"The second thing we looked at was Art as a person. You see what kind of person he is, his moral fiber and the kind of person he is in the community. He's top flight and first class.
"The third thing was Art's leadership on the team. He was a producer, but as everyone knows he was very quiet. In the meetings, when he did talk, everyone listened. They would lean forward to listen what he said.
"The fourth thing that was under consideration was the role we asked him to play. Art was the bigger receiver of our three and we asked him to play the inside position. Some of those Hall of Fame receivers, who are obviously great, didn't have to block a lot of the time the way Art did. Not only did he block, but a lot of those passes he caught were right up the middle [where he would absorb a hard tackle]. Lots of times, we didn't have him in the outside lanes like we did with Ricky [Sanders] and Gary.
"So you put all of that together. It was a great conversation I had with Peter. I've talked to a lot of people about Art, because they had questions. But, really, I can't believe there's anybody who deserves it more than Art."
Monk and former Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm are among 25 semi-finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame.
The list of 25 will be narrowed to 15 in mid-January, plus two recommended candidates from the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee. The Hall of Fame Board of Selectors will cast their final votes on Saturday, Feb. 3, the day before Super Bowl XLI.