CARLISLE, Pa. -- The Washington Redskins, who are at a virtual impasse in talks with their four holdouts, successfully concluded one unrelated set of negotiations yesterday.
They persuaded wide receiver Art Monk to talk publicly about his quest for the NFL's all-time receptions record.
Monk will go into the season with 801 career catches, just 19 shy of breaking Steve Largent's career record of 819.
Monk said he's "excited" about breaking the record, but he never is eager to talk about himself.
After some arm-twisting by the team's public relations staff, Monk agreed to give an interview yesterday.
"I'll try to get it out of the way, and that way I can concentrate on the game," he said.
Monk said that when he does public appearances he's often asked, " 'How come you don't talk more and take advantage of the opportunities?' "
"That's just not me," he said. "I'll do some things here and there, but I won't go overboard."
Monk did agree to pose for the cover of the Sports Illustrated football issue, but he had a motive.
"I started not to do it, but I said, 'What the heck,' my attorney [Richard Bennett] has on his wall [covers of] some of the guys he's represented over the years. He calls it his 'SI' wall, so I said if I ever got the chance to do that, I'd put my picture up there along with those guys," he said.
Monk said he tries not to think about records. "You start thinking about those things and I'll lose my focus about what I have to do on the field he said
Monk, though, admitted that at times even he can't block th thought of breaking the record out of his mind.
"As much as I try to stay away from it and not think about it, obviously it does penetrate," he said. "There are times when I'm home watching TV or whatever and it may run across my mind. It's hard to totally block it out, period. But I'm excited about it. No question about that."
Monk said he met Largent, who played 14 years for the Seattle Seahawks, at an off-season banquet and Largent rooted Monk on.
"He [Largent] said how excited he was that I was having this opportunity to break his record. That showed a lot to me," Monk said. "Most guys would say, 'I wish you didn't [get it].' They kind of want to hold onto something like that. He's willing to give it up, and I'm going to have the same attitude."
Monk is in his 13th year at age 34, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the game. "Catching the ball is a joy," he said.
One reason for his longevity is that he works out all year and takes good care of himself. He has weekly sessions during the season with a massage therapist and an osteopath.
"It keeps my body in line and my muscles loose and all the knots and things worked out of my legs and shoulders. It really helps," he said.
Monk said he's going "year-by-year" now and doesn't know how long he'll play.
Talking about why he enjoys catching the ball, he said, "It's just a good feeling [when] you get inside, getting open, catching the ball. When the timing is there, the rhythm is there and when you and the quarterback just jell together, it seems like you can do no wrong.
"That's just a high. Man, it just drives you. It keeps you going. It's just a great feeling."
NOTES: Owner Jack Kent Cooke is taking a surprisingly low-key attitude publicly about the team's four holdouts. Last year, he called Mark Rypien a "bloody idiot" when he held out for 10 days. Cooke showed up at camp yesterday and simply said, "It happens every year. Of course, we're concerned."
Cooke also was polite when a youngster came up and asked him to autograph a copy of "The Last Mogul" by Adrian Havill, which is subtitled "The Unauthorized Biography of Jack Kent Cooke." The youngster may not have realized it, but the book offers a very unflattering profile of the Redskins owner.