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    Former Ram Issac Bruce Gets Taste Of Coaching With Bears, Martz

    Former Ram Isaac Bruce gets taste of coaching with Bears, Martz
    BY JIM THOMAS • Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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    Chris Lee June 9, 2010 -- His eyes filled with tears as Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce announced his retirement during a press conference at Russell Training Center in Earth City, Mo. (Chris Lee

    BOURBONNAIS, ILL. • Dressed in baggy orange shorts, a dark blue T-shirt and wearing his pass-catching gloves, Isaac Bruce looked like he still could do some damage against NFL cornerbacks.

    Fat chance, says Bruce.

    "I've got it all out of me," he said. "I played 16 years — I've got all the football playing out of me. I have bigger dreams. And I always say my dreams are bigger than my memories. So I'm going to press on that way."

    Bruce is trying to determine if those bigger dreams include coaching.

    This training camp, he's helping to coach wide receivers as part of the NFL's minority coaching internship program.

    The surprise, at least to Rams fans, is that he's doing it with the Chicago Bears. As soon as Bruce formally announced his retirement two months ago, the Bears came calling.

    "I had to think about it for a while, let my retirement settle in just a little bit," Bruce said. "(I) decided I wanted to get out of the house a little bit. Here I am."


    Also calling Bruce were the New York Jets, where former Rams wideout coach Henry Ellard now coaches. And so did a couple of other teams. But not the Rams.

    "You know what, if they asked me, that's where I would've been," he said. "If they said, 'Isaac, we want you to come to training camp. …' That's my first love, so that's where I would be."

    After Bruce's retirement, coach Steve Spagnuolo told Bruce he always is welcome at Rams Park. But there never was an offer to come help in training camp.

    Rams GM Billy Devaney said the reason was because the team had already filled all of its internship positions. Bruce has no hard feelings toward the organization. He's thrilled that his jersey number (80) will be retired Oct. 31 when the Rams play host to Carolina. And although he doesn't know Spagnuolo well, he's a "Spags'' admirer.

    "He's a great guy — a great guy," Bruce said. "Like I said, for the organization, I'd roll over backwards because that's where I started my career. But it just didn't happen."


    Naturally, the pull from Chicago was great. Bruce is very close with Mike Martz, now the Bears' offensive coordinator and formerly Bruce's receivers coach, coordinator, and head coach in St. Louis. Bruce also thinks highly of Chicago coach Lovie Smith, who was Rams defensive coordinator from 2001-2003.

    "I think they're both superb head coaches, and I can learn a lot from them," Bruce said. "If this is the avenue that I desire to travel, I've got two of the better guys in the league to learn from — offensively and defensively."

    Under the internship program, Bruce says he'll be with the Bears until the end of the preseason. Until then, Martz is putting him to work with a young, unproven wide receiver corps.

    "He'll get a taste of what this is like and see if this is something he wants to do," Martz said. "For a guy like him to think he might want to coach, what an awesome thing that'd be for the league."


    None of the Chicago wideouts has had a 1,000-yard season. The most experienced Bears wide receiver — Devin Hester — has career totals of 129 catches for 1,721 yards. That's roughly equivalent to Bruce's 1995 season (119 catches for 1,781 yards).

    So Bruce can teach the Chicago receivers a lot about the finer points of the game, and playing at a high level. As a bonus, he's an expert on the Martz passing scheme.

    "This training camp, my main objective is to make sure everybody goes up a level," Bruce said. "The starters, that they go up a level. And the young guys who probably don't think about making the team, raise their level of confidence, and just give 'em tools. So that if they don't make this team, the next team they go to they'll make."

    Bruce started working with Hester weeks before Bears camp opened at Olivet Nazarene University.

    "He just called me out of the blue," Bruce said. "I think Coach Martz probably gave him my number. ... I was in south Florida, so we just hooked up."

    Both are from south Florida. Bruce has a home in Ft. Lauderdale (as well as one in St. Louis.)

    "I had a chance for about a good three weeks just to tutor him on some of the things that I know," Bruce said. "And it worked out well. He's looking tremendous."


    Hester has been slowed recently by a groin injury. Before Bruce's arrival in camp, Martz showed Hester and the Bears film of Bruce from the glory days of the "Greatest Show on Turf.''

    "They saw a lot of me on film, Torry (Holt), some Az (Hakim), Marshall Faulk," Bruce said. "I'm the type of guy when I was learning, if you showed it to me on film, I could emulate another person, just do what they did. Hopefully, that's what they're doing here."

    That would be learning from the best.

  2. #2

    Re: Former Ram Issac Bruce Gets Taste Of Coaching With Bears, Martz

    Its awesome that he gets the opportunity for a coaching career. He is a great player and he seems to want to teach others his knowledge. I applaud his devotion to football in general. And he is comfortable with Martz and Smith. So its exciting for Isaac.

  3. #3
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    Re: Former Ram Issac Bruce Gets Taste Of Coaching With Bears, Martz

    The Bears "got'em a good'un", as my grandma would say.

    I've always heard the reason the best players don't always make the best coaches is because of the discrepancy in work ethics. Great players (who tend to become great because of their dedication to the game and work ethic) can't adjust to the varying work ethics of the players they coach. For every Chris Long there's several Alex Barrons. Gets the retiree frustrated, and they don't pan out.

    Hopefully, that does not happen to Bruce.

  4. #4
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    Re: Former Ram Issac Bruce Gets Taste Of Coaching With Bears, Martz

    Good for him, I love the fact that he stated if the Rams came calling thats were he'd be, Im happy for him, but on the other side of things I miss him, hopefully one day something will open up for him with the Rams organization.

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