A Decade of Consistency
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
MEQUON, Wis. — Believe it or not, a Decade of Torry is almost complete.
"My goal was always 10 years in the National Football League," Torry Holt said Saturday. "I wanted to give the National Football League 10 years of consistency. So I have this year to hopefully kind of complete that, and then I'll go from there. But that's the motivation."
As Holt enters his 10th season in the NFL, you can make the case that he is one of the most consistent wide receivers in league history. He's certainly one of the most productive. Since the start of his second season in 2000, no one in the league has more catches (753) or more reception yards (11,076) in the NFL.
Not Randy Moss. Not T.O. Not Ocho Cinco. No one.
The 1999 first-round draft pick enters the 2008 season with the highest yards per game (83.5) average in league history. And he has cracked the league's Top 20 in both career receptions and career receiving yards. All in just nine seasons.
So by any measuring stick, Holt should be considered one of the greatest pass catchers to play the game. But a part of him wonders whether he is held in such high regard throughout the league.
"I still feel like there's not any buzz about Torry Holt," he said. "I still feel like there's some people that are not aware of what I've done. I'm not going to go out and get on national television and say, 'Hey, look at what I've done.'"
Nonetheless, this supplies even more motivation for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Early in his career, Holt played in the shadow of the great Isaac Bruce, the first true star of the "St. Louis" Rams and the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV. It has been only the past couple of years that Holt clearly was regarded as the go-to guy in the St. Louis offense.
But now, Bruce is gone and Holt is the last man standing. He's the last remaining skill position player from the Greatest Show on Turf. Yes, Trent Green was on the '99 and 2000 rosters, but then left for Kansas City and Miami.
"I guess the best thing I can do is just try to continue to carry that legacy on," Holt said. "How to work. How to study. How to play the game. How to encourage your teammates. How to lift them up. How to challenge them. All those things were passed on to me at an early (NFL) age from Isaac, to Ricky (Proehl), to Az (Hakim), to Marshall (Faulk), Kurt (Warner), Ernie Conwell."
Continuing a legacy was the last thing on Holt's mind as the 2007 season slid further and further into a 3-13 debacle and his frustration mounted. There was that sideline tirade directed at coach Scott Linehan during the Dec. 20 game against Pittsburgh. Those controversial remarks in the spring about wanting to end his career with his brother Terrence Holt in Carolina.
For the longest time, Holt was not happy about the Rams' losing ways, the release of Bruce, and so on. But now that he has vented his frustrations, Holt is ready to move on.
"I'm done with that," Holt said. "I'm not even going to discuss that anymore. It's about the 2008 Rams, and getting ourselves in position to win some games."
In his first five NFL seasons, Holt went to the playoffs four times and played in two Super Bowls. But the Rams haven't had a winning record since 2003. And that more than anything gnaws at him and his legacy.
"I can go out and put up 1,600 yards and 16, 18 touchdowns, but if we only win three or four games, it don't mean a damn thing," Holt said. "I want to win. I want to W-I-N. That's what I want to do. I want to win games.
"That's how you are remembered in this league. Do you win? Do you win championships? I'm talking about (winning) the division and do you win Super Bowls? And we haven't done that in the last so many years."
But are the 2008 Rams capable of getting to the playoffs?
"I think so," Holt said. "We still have to continue to get some grit. We still have to pose some fear. That's what we've got to get back to. We've got to impose some fear on the other team. By the way we play. By the way we hit. By the speed of the game. By execution. By our plays. By our (coverage) drops. By our routes. By our pulls. By our angles."
Until they get that, the Show will be anything but Great in St. Louis.
Holt's troublesome right knee feels much better than it did a year ago. In an effort to reduce wear and tear, he is being more careful about the amount of reps he takes in practice.
"I don't have to ice it as much as I had to last year, so that's a good sign," Holt said. "Not as much swelling as I had last year, which is great. My flexibility is back. A lot of yoga, a lot of stretching, a lot of leg strengthening, a lot of pool work."
And apparently, some jams on the basketball court.
"His physical skills are still unbelievable," quarterback Marc Bulger said Saturday. "I saw him in (the gym) dunking yesterday and running up and down the court for a half-hour before practice. So he still has it."
Holt would like to remind everyone of just that this season — in the regular season, and the playoffs.