The fifth-best single-season in receiving yards. Sitting at 14th in career receptions, 12th in career receiving touchdowns and fourth in career receiving yards.
That would seem like a relatively automatic bid for the NFL Hall of Fame, but former Rams WR Isaac Bruce has been passed over for two years.
Bruce was a semifinalist (top 25) two years ago and a finalist (top 15) this year, so there’s at least tangible evidence of improvement. What might complicate things is that Bruce was passed over this year along with former WR Terrell Owens and former WR Randy Moss is coming into the eligibility mix next year. That’s a trio of what should be obvious HOFers, but for Bruce to miss out for two years and T.O. to miss out for his first shot suggests the voters are going to be very critical of wide receivers in the new, statistically explosive era.
Which is fair...but cmon. The overwhelming weight of the resume of Bruce’s career (yes, along with T.O.’s and Moss’) shouldn’t force us to complicate this.
I mentioned his place in the records in the first paragraph. What’s fun is that so many assume that his top receiving yards season, the fifth-best all-time, came as part of the Greatest Show On Turf. It didn’t.
Bruce put up 1,781 receiving yards in 1995 with end-of-career placeholders Chris Miller and Mark Rypien at QB. Second on the list for the Rams in receiving yards that year? TE Troy Drayton. This in the same year that the Rams were trying to scuttle Jerome Bettis into something he was much better than at roughly 50% of his peak output at the time. All that to say...there wasn’t a single above average player on the entire offense in 1995 save for Bruce. All defenses had to do was prep for demiBettis and Bruce...and Bruce still killed them including a 15-reception, 210-yard Week 17 performance on a 7-8 team that wasn’t playing for anything.
Isaac Bruce was a professional. The Reverend was an actual role model, not the PR-sogged ones the NFL tries to trot out nowadays. He busted his ass when it didn’t matter and he shined when it mattered most. He was ridiculously talented, unwaveringly committed and unbelivably reliable.
He’s pretty much what the Hall of Fame would ask for if they had a chance to develop a player out of clay.
Put the man in the Hall of Fame.