Fans hear stories about the “Greatest Show on Turf” all the time. They hear about quarterback Kurt Warner’s improbable rise. They hear about running back Marshall Faulk’s historic performance between 1999 and 2001. And they hear about the unstoppable receiving duo of Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. However, fans don’t hear much about Orlando Pace, the quiet anchor of the St. Louis Rams offensive line during this era. Pace’s role was to help the other players succeed; He wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The former Ohio State Buckeye was one of the most coveted offensive line prospects in NFL history. His selection at No. 1 overall in the 1997 NFL Draft was the first time a linemen was taken there in 30 years. The Rams actually traded up in the draft to grab Pace.
It’s safe to say he lived up to the hype. Pace, along with the rest of the Rams offense, exploded onto the scene in 1999, and didn’t let up. He was selected to seven straight Pro Bowls and was named to five different All-Pro teams in that span. Pace led the way for three straight Rams MVPs during this era. He helped send two different quarterbacks and running backs to the Pro Bowl. Pace was the engine that propelled both eras of the Greatest Show on Turf.
He wasn’t short on achievements either. Pace earned a place on the 2000s All-Decade Team and election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his second year on the ballot.
Nobody deserved the honor more than Orlando Pace. He spent his 15-minute speech thanking everybody: his teammates, his coaches, his family, his city, and everyone else. Pace had one of the most decorated careers for a linemen in football history. From high school to college to the pros, Pace was always regarded at the top among his peers.
Pace had high praise for his Super Bowl teammates. “There were no egos, and we genuinely enjoyed being around each other. When faced with adversity, we were relentless, and because of our selfless attitudes, we accomplished great things together.” He was truly the anchor that the team needed. We wouldn’t have a Super Bowl without him.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here or check out his podcast Tejas and Lil Stevie.