‘Greatest Show on Turf’ lands Bruce in HOF, Holt next?

Jul 27, 2021, 1:13 AM | Updated: 3:33 pm

Isaac Bruce would love to see “The Greatest Show on Turf” playing with today’s NFL rules. No head-hunting safeties. No handsy cornerbacks. No limits to what the St. Louis Rams’ offense could do.

“We’d probably have to call off the dogs,” Bruce said.

Bruce will become the fourth member of the Rams’ high-scoring offense to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, following running back Marshall Faulk (2011), left tackle Orlando Pace (2016) and quarterback Kurt Warner (2017).

Bruce is part of the 2020 class whose entry was delayed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. He believes fellow Rams receiver Torry Holt will join him and the others in Canton, Ohio, in the near future. Holt was a finalist each of the last two years and came up short both times.

“If I had to rank duos, you definitely have to start with No. 2 for everybody else,” Bruce said. “It may seem like a whole lot of arrogance for other people, but numbers don’t lie. Everything we put on the football field, the film that we have … you can always go back and turn it on.”

Bruce caught 1,024 passes for 15,208 yards and 91 touchdowns in 16 NFL seasons, including 14 with the Rams. He ranks 13th in league history in receptions, fifth in receiving yards and 12th in receiving scores.

Holt, meanwhile, finished his 11-year career with 920 catches for 13,382 yards and 74 TDs. He spent 10 years with the Rams, making the Pro Bowl seven times and being voted All-Pro once.

Together they helped St. Louis become the league’s most feared offense for three straight seasons (1999-2001). The Rams racked up a league-leading 37 wins in the regular season during that span and advanced to two Super Bowls, winning the first by edging Tennessee in 2000 and losing the second to New England on a last-second field goal in 2002.

Bruce feels the Rams set the groundwork – and the benchmark – for explosive offenses to follow. And they did it at a time when NFL rules favored defenses, at least compared to the protective measures in place today.

“There was a level of respect that you had to give these (defensive) guys based on that they could take your head off and it was legal,” he said. “Every hit was legal. There wasn’t a hit that wasn’t legal that these guys could deliver.”

Yet the Rams still made plays and topped 500 points three straight years.

“You put that same group of guys in this dispensation right now, I don’t think there would be a lid to it,” he added. “We’d probably have to call off the dogs. Just imagine Marshall Faulk in a slot, sling him out, move him out to receiver.

“And going across the middle of the field? I wouldn’t even have the thought in my mind that this guy could possibly attempt to take my head off when I’m going across the field.”

The 48-year-old Bruce grew up the 13th off 15 children in South Florida idolizing and pretending to be Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino throwing to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. After failing to get into Purdue, he landed at West Los Angeles College and then Santa Monica College before transferring to Memphis. The Rams chose him with a second-round draft pick in 1994.

His breakout season came in 1995 when he caught 119 passes for 1,781 yards and 13 scores, but the most memorable ones were a few years away. Now, two decades later, he still doesn’t think anyone stacks up to those Rams. Not the 2007 Patriots, the 2011 Green Bay Packers, the 2013 Denver Broncos, the 2016 Atlanta Falcons or the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs.

“When you talk about four guys who have already been enshrined, that’s special,” he said. “It kind of makes me, as a player, upset a little bit because I felt like we left a lot on the field, left a lot on the table and could have done more.

“But as far as comparisons and as far as the duplication of what we had on the field, I think teams are still trying to duplicate it. … I definitely see a lot of our handprint, our imprint, our footprint on a lot of offenses today.”


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


People celebrate Morocco's win over Spain in a World Cup match played in Qatar, in Rabat, Morocco, ...
Associated Press

‘Our pride’: Morocco keeps Africa’s hope alive in World Cup

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — For many in Africa, Morocco’s underdog performance is the best story in the World Cup so far, with the hopes of the continent soaring ahead of the match on Saturday against Portugal. Across the continent of more than 1.3 billion people, African fans are excited that Morocco has become the fourth […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Neymar, right, and Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic, left, fight for the ball during the World C...
Associated Press

Neymar ties Pelé’s all-time record with Brazil at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Neymar moved into a tie with Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals on Friday. The Brazil forward scored in the first half of extra time of his team’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Croatia. Neymar scored with a right-footed shot after getting through the defense and dribbling […]
1 day ago
International Olympic Committee, IOC, President Thomas Bach attends the opening of the Executive Bo...
Associated Press

Russia may join sports events in Asia ahead of 2024 Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russia could return to some international sports events and Olympic qualifiers by competing as part of Asia rather than Europe. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach welcomed a “creative” plan Friday to allow athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to join competitions in Asia after more than nine months of […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Vinicius Junior, left, tries to score past Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic who make...
Associated Press

Croatia beats Brazil on penalties in World Cup quarterfinals

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Croatia knocked Brazil out of the World Cup on Friday, beating the five-time champions 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the semifinals for the second straight time. Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved a penalty attempt by Rodrygo and Marquinhos later hit the post. The match had finished 1-1 after […]
1 day ago
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

Morocco coach skeptical World Cup can open door to Europe

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Morocco coach Walid Regragui has guided his team to the World Cup quarterfinals — the first time an Arab nation has advanced that far in the tournament. One might think that would be enough to get him linked to a top job in Europe. Regragui isn’t so sure, sounding skeptical Friday […]
1 day ago
Buffalo Sabres' Tage Thompson, right, scores a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets' Elvis Merzlikins...
Associated Press

Tage Thompson’s 5-goal outing showcases his sizeable ability

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — It was only fitting Tage Thompson got to celebrate the NHL’s most productive goal-scoring outing of the season with Don Granato, who was busy pulling one puck after another out of his pockets before the Sabres coach stopped at five in the visitor’s locker room in Columbus. If not for the […]
1 day ago
‘Greatest Show on Turf’ lands Bruce in HOF, Holt next?