I'd first like to congratulate the deserving members of the 2007 Hall of Fame induction class. This is a great bunch of players who deserve to be honored because of their extraordinary achievements.
I realize I might be a bit biased when it comes to judging Art Monk's case for the Hall, so I'll start by describing why Paul Tagliabue deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Simply put, everything the NFL is today -- in terms of the popularity of the league, stabilized ownership situations, marketing and player loyalty -- is due to the excellent work of Tagliabue and the excellent people he put in position to succeed.
When Tagliabue took over the position of commissioner in 1989, he had to bring together a fractured group of players and owners who didn't like or trust each other. He also had an ownership group that didn't entirely know how to deal with this upstart who was taking over for one of the most popular commissioners in any league in the late, great Pete Rozelle.
He overcame these problems to lead the league to an even higher level of greatness and prosperity. I truly believe there isn't a better or tougher job in all of sports than being the NFL commissioner, and Tagliabue handled the position with uncommon grace and dignity. There were never any heavy-handed decisions. He always did an excellent job of realizing the importance of what he was doing and also realizing that in the grand scheme of things, his voice alone could push through a large level of actions.
As for Monk, I believe he should've been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I'm still, frankly, baffled that he isn't in the Hall. Could someone kindly explain to me how he is not in the Hall? Art has very similar numbers to current inductee Michael Irvin and better numbers than previous inductees John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. Not to mention that he also has three Super Bowl rings.