He is one of the most decorated wide receivers in history. He has three Super Bowl rings. He’s a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He made the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s. He’s in his franchise’s ring of honor. He was the first ever pass catcher to notch 900 receptions.
All of that is Art Monk’s professional career, and we’re not even counting it toward his ranking on this list. Just Monk’s collegiate career makes him a top 15 Syracuse athlete all-time. How much of a legacy did he leave behind? He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as well in 2012. He is one of the greatest ever to do it.
Monk’s versatility was incredible. How many players compete two seasons as a tailback and two at wide receiver? He was a first-team All-America, and led SU in receiving from 1977-1979. Even after offenses changed and schools threw the ball more in a month than they used to in an entire season, Monk still ranks in the top-ten on several school career record lists, including: career receptions, all-time receiving yards and receiving yards per game.
His best season was 41 catches in 1977. In the last decade SU has had 8 players who caught 60+ passes. Ervin Phillips more than doubled Monk’s career catches. But Monk was a star when he did his damage in the dark ages of the passing game, getting drafted in the first round by Washington. With 1,644 career receiving yards in 35 games, Monk set a school record with a 47-receiving yards per game average. He also recorded one of the greatest games by a receiver in Syracuse history against Navy, catching 14 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
How different was the game back then? “It was very different,” Monk told Syracuse.com when he was inducted in ’12. “We ran the ball, and we had a quarterback (Bill Hurley) who liked to run the ball. Even times when we were supposed to pass he would run.”
Monk’s quiet professionalism and humble demeanor won his admirers along the way. He’s known as being one of the gentleman of the sport. He’s a member of Syracuse’s Board of Trustees and has worked with numerous charitable causes and foundations. Monk was a bright spot during an era of change at SU, as Archbold Stadium was ending at the Dome was being built. He is a foundational piece as well to Syracuse football history.