Commentary

Monk: 'I'll always be known as a Redskin'

Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here's the text of his speech from the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.

Originally Published: August 2, 2008
By ESPN.com

Art MonkKirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireArt Monk received a four-minute standing ovation when he was introduced on Saturday.

Former Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here's the text of Monk and presenter (and son) James Monk Jr.'s speeches from the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.

Presenter (and son) James Monk, Jr.

You know, growing up as a son of Art Monk is something that I would never ever change for the world. And as his son, there's always been this question I could never escape, that I could never avoid, that I could never get away from and that was: Do you want to be like Art when you grow up? Now, you think such an easy question would have such an easy answer. Let me tell you a few things that go into answering this question.

Art Monk, although a great speaker, would rather just show you than have to tell you. He believes his actions speak louder than his words.

And a little story about that is when I played football and he was training me in the track up at Langley High School, doing the 80s, he would run behind me and I did think it strange. I'd rather him just stand there and keep my time (prompting laughter from the crowd). But he ran behind me for two reasons. One, to be an encouragement and to keep me going forward, and, two, to trip me if I started slowing down (prompting laughter from the crowd). No, he was there to pick me up if I were to fall. And just to show you that he's a man of action rather than going out and having to tell you something, he's there for D.C.

He's not going to come out and say, I'm here for you guys, but he's going to let you know by the lives and the families that he touches with the Good Samaritan Foundation in inner city D.C.

He'll let you know by serving the community of Northern Virginia through Grace Covenant Church and having his football camps for the kids all around the world.

Dad's greatness never came from his ability to play football, but it came because he wanted to be used by God for his glory, above all.

He realized and held onto the gifts and talents that God blessed him with. And the bible says to build your foundation on a rock. Solid rock. For when the storm comes, you will not shake or you will not be moved for your foundation is well built.

Dad built his foundation on the strongest rock of all and that was Jesus Christ.

And because of this he was able to weather many storms and stay consistently strong on the football field, at home, at church and at work. And from his actions I have learned the following: I've learned that less is more. I've learned not only to become a man of success, but be a man of value; that my decisions should be guided by Christian principles.

It is not hard to make the right decision when you know your value and where you stand. Through the outcomes of hard work and dedication is success. That there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.

That the reward for hard work is the opportunity to do more. Nobody gets anywhere in this world by just being content with where you are. And that my identity does not come from this world or what people say or write or think about you, but it comes from the one and only Jesus Christ.

So to answer the question, do you want to be like Art Monk when you grow up, my answer is I'd rather be like dad.

Dad, thank you for being the man of God, that God has called you to be and for raising me in the same. As your best friend, as your admirer, as your biggest fan and as your son, I want to tell the whole world that I love you and I'm truly honored and blessed to induct you into the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Art Monk

Thank you all very much. Standing up here on this platform is much different than I imagined. A lot has taken place over the past couple of months. The reality of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame didn't really hit me until a couple of days ago as there was an overwhelming sense of is this really going to happen? And even more so as I stepped up on this stage, and just seeing the magnitude of all this and all of you, I appreciate your support.

There's so much excitement and activity since the announcement that it's been hard to sit back and think about the significance of what all this really means. By being here, I realize now that it's more than just having a bust made of yourself and wearing a gold jacket. But when you take the time to look through the hype and the celebration that comes along with this, you see that it's all really about history and the tradition of the game and about an elite group of athletes who helped make the game what it is today.

My class and I had a luncheon with all the Hall of Famers yesterday. And as we were eating and some of them started standing up and talking, I took a moment to just look around the room, and I focused on the face of each and every Hall of Famer that was in there. And I suddenly realized that I was sitting in the middle of a room of the greatest athletes that have ever played this game.

Some who played just because the love of the game. Some who broke through the colored barrier and persevered through the struggles of racism and others sacrificed for the benefit of those who follow in their footsteps.

And for me, it was a privilege for me to be sitting in that room with them, some of which I never knew, some of which I've watched in awe growing up, wanting to be like them, emulating them. And others that I've had the opportunity to play with, compete against. And even though they were my competitors, I greatly appreciated and respected their abilities. And I loved playing against them because they were the best, and they helped bring the best out in me.

And now to be standing here next to them as one of them is truly an honor and an awesome, awesome moment in my life.

Getting here did not come without controversy, as I'm sure it did with some of the guys sitting behind me. But through it all, I'm here with a greater appreciation for something that not every player is able to achieve and for the people who stood up for me and spoke out on my behalf.

Like David Elfin and all of you out there, the love and support I received these past seven to eight years, has been overwhelming. And I appreciate it very much.

What I've tried to convey to those who were upset about the process was that I was okay with it. But in all due respect, that as great as this honor is, it's not what really defines who I am or the things that I've been able to accomplish in my life.

I'll always be known as a Redskin.

That's right. And even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the word of God and it's the word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he's called me to be.

So I've learned a long time ago never to put my faith or trust in man, for man will always fail you. Man will always disappoint you. But the word of God says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And he will never fail you.

And that is what I live by and what I stand on. Being included into this fraternity is a pretty humbling experience for me. I always grew up seeing these guys as giants and legends who make significant contributions to the game of football. And it's pretty hard for me to believe that I've now been included as part of them. Growing up I was never voted the most likely to succeed. And there was never anything about me that would have given anyone the impression that I would have played in the NFL let alone to be standing here.

There's a scripture that I think about almost every day and I've come to personalize it to my life. It says: "Lord who am I that you are mindful of me? And the Apostle Paul says think of what you were when you were called. Not many were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were born of noble birth." And when I look at my life and how I grew up, I certainly had none of those qualities or benefits.

But I understand and I know that I'm here not by in and of my own strength but it's by the grace and the power of God upon my life who I know gave me favor along the way and who provided opportunity and room for me to use my gifts.

So I am very grateful to receive this honor, and I can stand here before you and say, hey, look at me, look what I did. But if I'm going to boast, I'm going to boast today in the Lord, for it's because of him that I'm here and I give him thanks and glory and honor for all that he has done for me.

There's obviously a lot of people, you've heard my classmates talk about, there were a lot of people who played a vital role in me reaching this platform from White Plains, New York, to Syracuse University, Washington D.C.

There have been school administrators, teachers, coaches, staff members, fans, family and friends, who encouraged me and gave me direction for my life. I wish I had time to acknowledge all of you today individually. Something I plan to do some time in the near future. But there are a couple of groups of individuals that I would like to mention.

I've had some great teammates over the years, and obviously I wouldn't be here because of them. We've worked hard. We've battled together. We've cried together. We shared some great times together. But there are a couple of teammates, groups of teammates that I would specifically like to mention who really made a difference for me. When I first arrived at the Redskins, there was a group of guys there known as the Over the Hill Gang.

And these were partially gray haired cigar smoking, trash talking veterans who were serious about their football and who played really hard. And because I was an incoming rookie, they gave me a hard time, physically and mentally they tested me. Not just to see and to prove me worthy of wearing the burgundy and gold, but to see if I would be the type of player that would fit in to being a team player and one that they can trust and count on.

These guys were also full of experience and wisdom and often they would pull me aside before practice, during practice, after practice, outside of practice and give me valuable words of wisdom about myself as a person, my skill as a wide receiver and about the game of football being played in Washington D.C.

I am grateful for those men. I've learned a lot from them. And they really helped set the ground work for the rest of my career. I'm close with a lot of my former teammates that really helped me along the way. But there's one specific group that has become like family to me. There's Monte Coleman, there's Charles Mann, Darrell Green, there's Tim Johnson and Ken Coffey. Because they're the ones who not only took the time to share the gospel to me, but they also demonstrated it in their lives, which allowed me to receive the gospel for myself.

And this was a life changing experience for me. Their example showed me what it meant to love and serve and honor your wife and to be faithful to her and to be the right example for my children. I greatly appreciate God using them and putting them in my life. Thank you, guys. One good thing about meeting the Hall of Famers this past week is you also get to know their wives as well. And I was stopped in the lobby a couple of days ago by a couple of the wives and they told me that I better not get up here and give my speech without mentioning my wife (prompting laughter from the crowd). Because they said their husband when they were in this position they didn't do so. And I'm not sure if I should mention their names (prompting laughter from the crowd). The Bible says he who finds a wife finds a good thing. And our children are a blessing from the Lord. And I can't tell you, I can't think of the words appropriate enough to really explain how truly blessed I am to have my wife Desiree of 26 years.

And my three children, James, Danielle and Monica, which I'm extremely proud. They don't know me as Art Monk, they know me as dad and husband, and they've loved me and stood by me through all these years, put up with me, with my moods, coming home from practice. But they've shown me unconditional love, and I just want to say I love you guys. I love you very much. Thank you.

I learned a lot of things from a lot of people but it's been the influence of my parents and my sister and the biblical foundations they've laid in my life that has made me the person I am today. Of course they encouraged and supported everything that I've ever done. But they also demonstrated a life of Godly and steady fast character. It was what I saw in them in the life that they lived that made the difference more than what they said. They taught me not to just become a man of success, but a man of value and character. And it's those same values that I've tried to instill in my children.

And it's these qualities that I also live by what most people have come to know me for. My dad passed away a few years ago. He would have loved to have been here. He loved watching me play. He loved coming down from New York, traveling, picking up a bucket of chicken for my kids to eat when he got to the house. I can see the look on his face now.

My mom wasn't able to travel to be here with us today, but I know she's watching. Hey, Mom. I love you. My sister is here, and I just want you guys to know how much I truly love you, appreciate you and that the words that you spoke and the example that you've shown me did not go unnoticed. Thank you.

But from the time I first picked up a football I fell in love with this game. It's all I ever wanted to do. From playing tackle in the streets of White Plains to playing in the stadiums in the NFL, I never ever imagined it would take me this far. It's taken a lot of hard work and sacrifice and the belief from people and times when I didn't believe in myself. I've experienced some exciting moments. I've met some extraordinary people and I have a lot of great memories that I will never forget.

This is the icing on the cake for me, and I take it very seriously. And I'm extremely honored to now be included with this group of elite athletes and to do so with my Class of 2008. I will wear the banner with pride. And I will represent it well. Thank you.

Transcript provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame