Tuesday, December 2: Dr. Z’s Redskins Love

si-sbxxiicoverAccording to Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column yesterday, Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman, arguably the dean of SI’s football writers, suffered two strokes last week and is recovering in the hospital.

Zimmerman has been writing about football for what seems like forever, long enough that when King picks out “four passages from not so long ago” to highlight some of Zimmerman’s best writing, the definition of “not so long ago,” relative to Zimmerman’s career as a whole, stretches back twenty-five years.

For many of those years, he has been accused of being notoriously biased against the Redskins, especially with regard to the many years he spent vocally opposing Art Monk’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

But Chris Chase at Shutdown Corner makes the point that Zimmerman wasn’t always so critical, especially when criticism was completely unwarranted, simply by linking to Z’s piece on Super Bowl XXII from Sports Illustrated.

An excerpt:

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Art and Darrell Get Their Rings

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Pictured above are Darrell Green and Art Monk, two new enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — two very cold new enshrinees. They are standing behind their Hall of Fame busts and in front of enough balloons to fill eight bar mitzvahs, getting ready to receive a pair of rings that represent the final symbol of their Hall of Fame enshrinement. You can see the rings, and the ceremony, after the jump.

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New Jewelry for Darrell Green and Art Monk

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In addition to a football game that is apparently somewhat important, Sunday night will also see Darrell Green and Art Monk, the most recent Hall of Fame Redskins, receive their Hall of Fame rings during a pre-game ceremony.

If you’re attending the game, be sure to get to your seats early for the ceremony. Also, the first 50,000 fans into the stadium will receive one of the much-discussed Redskins Rally Rags, so there’s even more incentive for you.

Pictured above is the booklet that the PR department put together to hand out to Sunday’s media. It contains the press release about the event, statistics and old clips about each of the two guys, and a whole mess of quotes about them both. Here are just a few of those quotes, to get you ready for the pregame festivities.

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Friday, September 19: Hall of Fame Wall Update

The pictures of Art Monk and Darrell Green arrived for the Hall of Fame wall, replacing temporary (and unofficial) inductee Ethan Albright.

If these pictures had been put up in real time as players were inducted, the wall wouldn’t have changed since George Allen’s induction in 2002. Which means that if some Redskins blog had started the same time as ur-sportsblog Deadspin (in 2005) and had been inclined to mention changes on the HOF wall … well, there still wouldn’t have been any more updates than there have been in the last two months. Just another sign — alongside this week’s various excitements — that we are living in interesting Redskins times.
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Darrell Green: Greatest Redskin Ever (According to 14,101 People)

The results are in on ESPN SportsNation’s “Franchise Players” poll, which purports to determine the “best of all time for every NFL team.” The winner for the Redskins is Darrell Green, although not by a particularly overwhelming majority: of 47,481 votes cast, Darrell has 29.7% of them, the lowest percentage of any team’s winner.

By contrast, Brett Favre takes a 73.2% of 102,801 votes in Green Bay, and Dan Marino takes 90.4% of the 47,233 votes cast about Miami, and Barry Sanders earns a whopping 94.6% of the Lions vote. Even Bobby Hebert got a solid 44% of the Saints’ 65,366 votes (which I assume has driven Archie Manning into some sort of berzerker rage).

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the Redskins don’t actually have a single face of the franchise. Cold Hard Football Facts calls Sammy Baugh the face of the franchise. USA Today called Clinton Portis the face of the team (although they were clearly talking about the team at the time of writing, not all time). ExtremeSkins tackled the topic in 2006, with no conclusive results — most people suggested Joe Gibbs, who wasn’t eligible on the ESPN poll — and TheWarpath.net had pretty much the same outcome in 2007.

For me, after being around the team for the last month or so, my opinion has changed. At the time of the voting in the ESPN poll, I believe I voted for Art Monk, one of my favorite players I’ve ever seen. Now, though, I think I’d have to go with Sonny Jurgensen — one of the best pure passers alive when he was a player, and he’s also gone on to be something a voice of the team on radio and TV. I remember watching him co-host Redskins Sidelines as a kid, and I’ve listened to him on the radio broadcasts all my life. And watching him interact with the team’s rookies at the Hall of Fame cemented my agreement with Sonny’s 3.1% of the ESPN voters. That would make me feel old, I suspect, but their commenters are running heavily in favor of Sammy Baugh, so that helps a bit.

Making Monk’s Case: Talking to David Elfin

You may have heard that Art Monk was enshrined in the Hall of Fame this weekend, and that he had something of a long wait to get there. It’s been frustrating for Monk’s many fans, but very few people could do anything about it. David Elfin could.

David Elfin at work in the press room.

David Elfin at work in the press room.

For the last two years, as the Washington area selector for the Hall, Elfin has been the one making Monk’s case before the Board of Selectors. This year, he was successful, which is why Monk thanked him by name in his enshrinement speech.

Since he was here covering practice today, I talked to him about what went in to getting Art enshrined.

Tell me about the process for presenting a player for the selection committee.

It’s a weird process, because if you go to a courtroom, the attorneys make the case and then there’s a jury that decides. But when you present at the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, you are the defense attorney and part of the jury. So I have a vote, but I also have to present the cases of the Washington players. It’s a weird thing, because you know you’re voting on this anyway. That takes you a little aback.

And it’s hard – I’ve asked and suggested that no one ever have to do three in one year again. With three presentations, I don’t know that you do justice to all three guys. I probably owe Russ Grimm an apology, because I did not do as effective a job on him as on the other two.

How many times did you present for Art?

Twice. Len Shapiro did six. My first meeting in there, I was head of the Pro Football Writers, not the Washington selector, so I was helping Len and I got up and talked, but this was the second time I was presenting Art and Russ, and Darrell obviously once.

What’s the presentation like? Is it PowerPoint? Video? Just talking?

You get up there and talk, and I think maybe one occasion ever there’s been video. You say here’s why this guy should be in and you throw your best stuff out. Maybe you think, I’m going to have to come back at least once more so you hold something back for your final bullet in your gun, and it can be a free-for-all.

Two years ago, in ’07, we talked about Art for 45 minutes. We talked about Paul Tagliabue even longer.

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Taping Hall of Famers: Bubba Tyer on Green and Monk

Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer is a Redskins institution. This is his 37th season with the team, so he seemed like a good person to go to for some reflections on Darrell Green and Art Monk.

Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer

Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer -- Photo by Don Wright

His office was being vacuumed when I got there, so our conversation started in the hall in front of the pictures of Redskins Hall of Famers, which proved a helpful beginning.

So you’ve been with team 37 years, and have treated seven Hall of Famers.

Whoa, I didn’t realize that.

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