January 16, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- Art Monk, who usually lets his play on the football field speak for itself, talked yesterday about the one goal in football that has eluded him.

He has yet to have a big game in a Super Bowl even though he owns a pair of Super Bowl rings.

"It's the only thing I really haven't done. It means a lot. I'd like it to be a good one so I'm taking this game seriously," the Washington Redskins wide receiver said of his team's match with the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26.

That Monk stood in front of his locker and talked to a group of reporters for more than 45 minutes yesterday was indication of how much this game means to him. The last time he gave an interview was the week of Oct. 13 before he surpassed Charlie Joiner's mark of 750 catches to become the second-leading receiver of all time.

He was gone from the locker room by the time the reporters were let in after that game and hasn't spoken publicly since. He hates to be in the limelight.

"I just don't prefer it. I'm not one who really thrives on getting a lot of attention. I'd rather just be behind the scenes and just do what I have to do and leave it at that," he said.

He is correct in saying his championship game performances have been something short of super.

Monk sat out Super Bowl XVII with a broken foot when the Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17, and was hobbled with a knee injury in Super Bowl XXII, catching only one pass in the 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.

The only time he was healthy in a Super Bowl was when the Redskins were routed by the Los Angeles Raiders, 38-9, in Super Bowl XVIII. He caught only one pass.

His memories of that game?

"I can see a punt being blocked, an interception before halftime, Nothing good. So I try not to think about that one too much," he said.

The Redskins took the same record (16-2) into that game that they have this season. But Monk said things will be different this time.

"We had a fantastic year. We just kind of rolled over everybody and I think we kind of went in overconfident and a little cocky and we did some things that week that we normally don't do. Some guys stayed out late, a few things here and there that kind of hurt us," he said.

They won't be overconfident this time, he insists.

"We're going into this game very serious. We're not taking anything for granted. We're not going to let anything sidetrack us. If we lose, it'll be because they just beat us. [We won't] be making any excuses," he said.

This was the first time reporters had a chance to ask him his reaction to passing Joiner with his 751st catch in the Cleveland game, a 14-yard touchdown catch.

"I was very excited. I'm not a guy who shows a lot of emotion. But I was very excited and very happy to do that," he said.

He likes the idea it was a touchdown catch so they didn't have to stop the game to present him the ball.

"It was nice to do it on a touchdown catch and not just on a little rinky dink -- I don't mean rinky dink -- but [not] just a little 5-yard catch or something like that. It was good to catch it on a big play," he said.

He ended the regular season with 801 catches and needs just 19 more next year to surpass former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent, the record-holder at 819.

It wasn't surprising when he said he hasn't given much thought to surpassing Largent.

"I haven't. [I will] probably at the start of next year," he said.

But it's obvious he's thinking about his frustration in past Super Bowls. He watched the first one of his career after the 1982 season in the stands with a broken foot.

"It was different, the first one. I didn't feel like I was part of the team because I was up in the stands. It was a real strange feeling. The last one, I was coming back from an injury so I wasn't really 100 percent and I was playing very sparingly on third-down situations. It felt good to be able to play, at least, but it wasn't like I wanted to," he said.

The down side of the Super Bowl for him is all the hoopla and media attention.

"It's everything that I don't particularly care for. All the media and all the attention that it gets, a lot of confusion, everything that I'm not really excited about. But this is something you can control. I don't have to give interviews, well, they say you do, but . . . I don't let myself get caught up in it," he said.

The players are supposed to attend media sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but the league is somewhat lax in enforcing this policy.

One more reason Monk is so focused on this Super Bowl is that at age 34, he doesn't know how many more chances he'll get.

"We have confidence in our team, that we have the type of team we feel we can get back, but you never know. Anything can happen," he said.

Monk hasn't set a timetable for how many more years he wants to play, but he shows no signs of slowing down.

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