Put Rams’ legendary wide receiver Isaac Bruce in the Pro Football Hall of Fame already.
The Hall of Fame recently announced Bruce as a finalist for the sport’s greatest honor. This is the third consecutive year since he became eligible that he finds himself a finalist. This begs the question: why isn’t he already in the Hall of Fame?
The legend that is Isaac Bruce
Bruce ranked in the top 10 in all major receiving statistics at the end of his 16-year career. He recorded 1,024 receptions (fifth all-time) for 15,208 yards putting him second all-time in NFL history. He averaged 14.9 yards per reception and scored a total of 91 touchdowns (ninth all-time).
During his 14 seasons as a Ram, Bruce set multiple franchise records. He still ranks as the Rams’ all-time leader in receptions (942), receiving yards (14,109) and receiving touchdowns (84).
The Los Angeles Rams selected Bruce in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft out of Memphis. A 4-time Pro Bowl selection, he retired in 2010.
A primary piece in “The Greatest Show on Turf”
Bruce served a key weapon in the Greatest Show on Turf.” His selection as a finalist for the third straight year puts him that much closer to joining the ranks of Rams’ teammates Marshall Faulk (HOF Class of 2011), Orlando Pace (Class of 2016) and Kurt Warner (Class of 2017).
The most memorable catch of his career is his go-ahead touchdown catch in Super Bowl XXXIV. Mired in a hard-fought 16-16 battle against the Tennessee Titans, Warner took the snap from the Rams’ own 27-yard-line with two minutes left in regulation. Warner launched the ball towards the double-covered Bruce. He adjusted his route to catch the ball between two Titans defenders and ran into the end zone, finishing a 73-yards completion for a Rams touchdown.
That is not only the most historic play of Bruce’s career, but the most exciting moment in my long life as Rams fan. His catch resulted in the Rams hoisting the Lombardi trophy and winning the Super Bowl to end their amazing 1999 season.
The Greatest Show on Turf wouldn’t have existed without Bruce. His amazing route-running and impeccable timing made Bruce a key component to the Rams’ incredible offense during those historic years. He and fellow future Hall of Famer Torry Holt remained one of the best receiving duos in NFL history for years.
Bruce helped lead the Rams to two Super Bowls appearances, while posting over 1,000 yards receiving in each campaign. In fact, from the 1999 to the 2002, Isaac Bruce recorded four consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons. Throughout his career, he surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark eight times.
Bruce Returns to Retire a Ram
Bruce’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers ended when he was traded back to St. Louis on June 7, 2010, so that he could retire a Ram. The last member of the former Los Angeles Rams, Bruce ended his 16-year career with the franchise that drafted him.
His last appearance on the field was emotional. He and the 49ers visited the Rams in the Week 17 of his final season in 2009. All of the Rams fans in attendance knew that this was his last game. He played his final game in the Edward Jones Dome in front of Rams fans cheering loudly, “BRUUUUUCE! BRUUUUUUCE!”
Rams fans miss him, but knowing that he retired as a Ram remains the most appropriate end to Isaac Bruce’s long career. All was right in world that day. The Rams retired Bruce’s No. 80 months later.
This Legend deserves a Hall of Fame legacy
Bruce will always be considered one of the best players and most compassionate people ever to don the Rams colors. Known as “Reverend Ike” among his teammates for his humility and ongoing contributions to the community, Furthermore, fans will remember Bruce as one of the best at his position in NFL history. He is respected by everyone in the League who had the honor of knowing him on and off the field.
Since Bruce’s retirement, he has always been referred to as the “Future Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce,” and appropriately so. That is, at least until now.
The Hall of Fame Selection Committee has as tough job determining who will be enshrined this coming August, 2019. However, as disconcerting as it is that he has not already been inducted, Bruce is the model of worthiness, He deserves of the Hall of Fame honor.
Bruce should no longer be just a “future Hall of Famer.” Removing the word “future” from that phrase would be the right thing to do. He is the very definition of a Hall of Famer. I believe Bruce will finally be enshrined as part of the Class of 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Anything short of that would be both utterly disappointing and tragically disrespectful to the greatest wide receiver in Rams history and among the very best the NFL has ever seen. So to the 2019 Hall of Fame Committee, I say this: Isaac Bruce should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame now.