Monk major no-show at Redskins' minicamp Receiver unhappy with contract offer

May 08, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- Art Monk, usually a man of few words, spoke volumes with his actions yesterday.

In a rare public display of discontent, the Washington Redskins veteran wide receiver was a no-show when the team opened its annual weekend minicamp.

It was no surprise that linebacker Wilber Marshall, who's irate about his franchise player designation, was the only other player on the 87-man roster to miss the opening of camp.

Monk's absence, though, was out of character for the 35-year-old, 13-year veteran who is the NFL's all-time reception leader and is noted for being a team leader.

Monk, who hasn't given an interview since December when he saluted Sterling Sharpe of the Green Bay Packers for breaking his single-season reception record with 106 catches, was unavailable for comment.

But a source said that Monk, who is willing to accept his demotion to backup status, is unhappy the team is offering him a modest raise over his $1.1 million base salary of last year to $1.2 million. Monk wants about $2 million.

Monk lost his bargaining power when he didn't get offers from any other team even though he was an unrestricted free agent.

New coach Richie Petitbon said he had no plans to talk to Monk about the situation.

"What would I speak to him about? That's his decision. We'll just leave it at that. You certainly can't force people to come to camp," he said.

Petitbon said he didn't expect Marshall, who was in Houston on Thursday talking to the Oilers, to make it to camp, but he added, "I'm a little disappointed in Art's case. I thought he would be here. I think he should be here."

Richard Bennett, who represents Monk and Marshall, didn't return several phone calls to his office.

Monk appeared to lose a step last year when his reception total dropped from 71 to 46, and Petitbon recently told him that the team expected to go with Ricky Sanders and Desmond Howard as the starters this season.

"I thought it went very well," Petitbon said of his conversation with Monk. "We felt we wanted to give our younger guys a shot. I think we just felt we needed more speed."

Monk called Rennie Simmons, the team's wide receivers coach, and told him he wasn't coming. "His agent advised him not to come," Simmons said.

Explaining why the Redskins told Monk in advance that the team was going with younger receivers, Simmons said, "I think the worst scenario was painted to him so if the worst came to worst, it wouldn't be any shock to him rather than have it all come out in training camp."

Simmons and Petitbon stressed that Sanders and Howard have to earn the jobs, but Petitbon conceded, "The guy who has the position [in training camp] in most cases winds up keeping it."

From a football standpoint, the Redskins don't need Monk. They signed Tim McGee of the Cincinnati Bengals as a third receiver behind Howard and Sanders.

It's more of a public relations problem because Monk is a popular player. Even Sanders, who now will become the No. 1 receiver, feels empathy for Monk's diminished role.

"To not even have a chance to fight for your job, that's tough. I'd be ticked off. I guess that's the NFL," he said.

The other major topic of conversation at minicamp was the collective bargaining agreement the NFL Players Association and the owners reached Thursday.

The Redskins are resigned to accepting it, but they're not happy with it. Twenty-seven Redskins objected as a group, and Marshall had a separate complaint, to the settlement in a hearing before Judge David Doty, but he rejected their appeal.

"We're going to have to live with it," quarterback Mark Rypien said.

The Redskins feel the salary cap that is likely to kick in next year will lead to veterans being dumped.

"I might be squeezed out. It'll hurt players like myself," said veteran offensive lineman Joe Jacoby.

Defensive lineman Jason Buck said: "If we sat down in an auditorium with 1,200 NFL players and had an unbiased attorney interpret it so they realize what they're getting into, I don't believe the players would accept it."

But Doug Allen, assistant executive director of the NFLPA, said that on a team-by-team basis, the agreement is getting overwhelming support. He said the Denver Broncos voted 52-0 for it.

Allen also said he thought the Redskins' opposition would diminish once the NFLPA representatives meet with the players.

"I think if they give us a fair hearing, a majority will support it," he said.

NOTES: Rypien, who underwent off-season shoulder surgery, said he was only about 10 percent off his normal throwing ability and expects to be better than ever in training camp. . . . Under new offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower, the Redskins are not only using a two-back set, they're using more of a short passing game than they did under former coach Joe Gibbs. . . . The Redskins signed former Maryland CB Irvin Smith, giving them four former Terps in camp. The other three are Frank Wycheck, Derek Steele and Ralph Orta.

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