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  • Burwell: Bruce's Return Recalls Heyday

    Bruce's return recalls heyday

    Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/03/2010

    The hardest part about change isn't imagining what can lie ahead. That's always the easiest part. The most difficult part about transition is never imagining the possibilities: it's simply letting go of the past.

    No, we're not talking about the short-term past: If you are a Rams fan, you can't wait to get rid of the hideous nightmare of the past few seasons just as quick as you can. On this, the final day of what could be (oh, please make it so) an imperfect 1-15 season, what most folks are thinking are the ways to purge ourselves of the misery of all this losing. They're dreaming of a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. They're dreaming that GM Billy Devaney becomes the smartest guy in the room, weaving all sorts of personnel magic over the course of the next few months. They're wondering how he will be able to draft a stud like Ndamukong Suh in the first round, and then keep on collecting the impact players of the next generation throughout the rest of the draft in order to restore this once-great franchise to a semblance of its brief, but glorious past.

    But the funny thing is, on the same day they're imagining those giddy possibilities, they're once again being reminded of that sensational past.

    And you know what?
    It's hard to let go.

    Today, another integral piece of The Greatest Show on Turf returns to town for a cameo farewell. Isaac Bruce, now 37 years old and most likely only a ceremonial contributor for the visiting San Francisco *****, returns to the indoor stadium he once electrified as one of the leading characters in one of pro football's most exciting offensive eras. His head coach, Mike Singletary, who ought to know better, had to be coaxed into putting Bruce on the active roster for today's game by the younger wide receivers who understand the symbolism and importance of what this final act of the Greatest Show actually means.

    Bruce will be on the field before the game as an honorary captain. Of course, there will be cheers. Probably polite and passionate, long enough to recognize that the 45,000 diehards who braved the frigid weather to watch an otherwise uneventful game still remember how good it used to be, and how big a deal Bruce was in his heyday here.

    The sad thing is, it just won't be the same.

    It will not be like it used to be when the Edward Jones Dome used to be filled to the roof, and the place fairly trembled with sellout crowds who generated enough noise to mimic a jet engine. It won't be the same as it was when Bruce was sprinting toward the endzone and down on the Dome floor you could actually feel the earth move. It won't sound as chilling and exciting and crazy and out of control and explosive as it used to be when this place rippled with that distinctive roar:

    BRUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!!!!

    But how cool would it be if today that moment was recreated?

    The last members of that great Rams team are rapidly disappearing from the NFL. Only a handful are still sprinkled around the league, and today, two of them — Bruce and Rams defensive end Leonard Little — will both be taking their final bows. And all I hope is that they both get to experience one last trembling moment from a city that once was the toast of the NFL but now has hit on hard times.

    I hope they both are in uniform, and get to play significant minutes. I suspect that Little will find a way to will his beaten up body to get out there, and I doubt that Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo would have any qualms about finding a way to get him suited up and active for his final game of his career.

    I just hope that Singletary shows that same common sense. He is a man who used to play the game with a sense of its history, played the game like every single play mattered. He played that middle linebacker position in Chicago with the sense that he fully understood the legacy of the job and its meaning in NFL history.

    And now he needs a little reminder of what contribution Isaac Bruce made to NFL history and his unique place in the legacy of The Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis. On Friday before the team departed for the road trip, it didn't sound like Singletary was ready to concede a thing. When asked what Bruce's contribution would be on Sunday, the coach said, "It could be the coin toss and that's it. Or he could play the first play or he could play the first series. I'm good with it either way. I told (offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye) he and Isaac will talk and figure it out. Maybe he'll play, maybe not. I want it to be very respectful. The wideouts coming to me obviously shows how they feel about him. I wanted to honor that."

    Well, then honor him, Mike.

    Just make the decision. Play Isaac Bruce.

    If he can play one play, play him one play. If he can play one series, play him one series. If he can go for the entire game, then let him do his thing so that this city can give him a proper tribute.

    We want to hear that roar again.

    BRUUUUUUUUUCE!!!

  • #2
    Re: Burwell: Bruce's Return Recalls Heyday

    I find it pathetic that Singletary had to be "coaxed" by the other WR's to let Bruce, a future Hall-of-Famer, say goodbye to the fans he played the majority of his career in front of. I'd be more inclined to be understanding if the ***** were actually playing for something in this game. As much as I hate the Niners, I actually had some respect for Singletary until I heard this.

    I guess it's just another reason to hate the Niners.:|
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

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    • #3
      Re: Burwell: Bruce's Return Recalls Heyday

      Well to the best of my memory from watching the game I do not recall Bruce being on the field for any single play. Mike S. Zero class or respect.

      Okay my mistake. One play. I still don't like it, but he did get one play.
      Last edited by Rampingitup; -01-03-2010, 01:20 PM. Reason: Correcting information

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      • RamsInfiniti
        Smile, because Ike (and Mike) still love us ....
        by RamsInfiniti
        Definitely a tough one to read, bittersweet for sure. Ike is such a class act ...

        Make sure you read this with an open heart, because if there is ever an athlete that will tell you the unbiased truth, it is Bruce ....




        Bruce and Martz are gone, but both feel a lasting connection
        LINK
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        11/17/2008
        Bernie Miklasz

        SAN FRANCISCO — On days like this, after the latest immolation of the St. Louis Rams, it is difficult to resist the yearning for nostalgia and happy days.

        Except it is almost cruel to think of what the Rams used to be, and to consider how far they've fallen. They are barely recognizable.

        And so when Rams icon Isaac Bruce emerges from the tunnel at Candlestick Park, wearing the colors of the San Francisco *****, he is a ghost floating in our midst.

        And it's a surreal experience.

        Once upon a time Bruce ran into history for the exhilarating 73-yard touchdown that won Super Bowl XXXIV for the Rams. And that moment has never seemed so far away, so far removed from the present reality.

        Sunday, during his team's 35-16 rout of the sad-sack Rams, Bruce caught a 20-yard pass on a touchdown drive, drew a pass interference penalty to set up another touchdown and delivered crisp blocks for running back Frank Gore.

        If this was peculiar to watch from a St. Louis perspective, imagine how Bruce must have felt, playing his former team for the first time.

        "Yeah. It was strange," Bruce told me after the game. "Just watching guys run up and down on the field in the Rams uniform. All my friends. I had to catch myself a couple of times, because I was still cheering for Torry (Holt), still cheering for Marc (Bulger), hoping that they would still make plays. But of course, not too many."

        The Rams were pathetic for the second consecutive Sunday. They trailed the Jets at the half 40-0 last week, and were down 35-3 to the ***** at the half in this one.

        Even Bruce was pained by what he saw.

        "Part of me is still there," Bruce said. "Part of me will always be there. So I sympathize. But they have great character, and they'll get this right."

        Bruce opened up in a friendly interview after Sunday's game. Dumped by Scott Linehan and GM Jay Zygmunt in February, Bruce said he's still trying to sort out his feelings.

        "It's not easy to automatically disconnect," he said.

        Bruce insists he has no lingering animosity for Linehan (since fired) and Zygmunt.

        "Not at all," he said. "Bitterness and anger only blocks up the good things I believe in about folks."

        Bruce was a Ram for 14 seasons, the last 13 in St. Louis. He broke all of the major franchise receiving records, highlighted...
        -11-19-2008, 11:25 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Isaac Bruce's No. 80 Is A Number For The Ages
        by r8rh8rmike
        Isaac Bruce's No. 80 is a number for the ages

        BY JIM THOMAS
        Friday, October 29, 2010

        As the Rams gathered in July 1994 for what would be their last training camp as the Los Angeles Rams, all the rookies were shoved into a back room. They dressed separate from the vets at the University of California-Irvine.

        Some were talkers. Some were jokesters. Some were quiet — and none more so than the skinny-legged wide receiver from Memphis State, Isaac Bruce.

        "You could tell he meant business," said D'Marco Farr, then an undrafted rookie. "He wasn't there to make friends. He was there to practice and get better and make this football team. You could tell that from day one."

        Bruce made the team, and didn't stop there. He became one of the greatest Rams ever. Such lofty status becomes official — and immortalized — Sunday when Bruce's jersey No. 80 is retired in a pregame ceremony at the Edward Jones Dome.

        "I've had the fortunate chance to see other great players, not only in football but in other sports have their numbers retired," Bruce said. "You're pretty much ingrained into an organization once you're drafted or you sign with that team. But to have that organization retire your number? This happens to people like Jackie Robinson and other great players."

        And it's happening to Bruce.

        "We'll have a great time celebrating it," Bruce said. "I'm just honored. All I've been thinking about is that when you honor father God, he honors you. That's all that just keeps pouring in my mind. He's honoring me, because I honor him."

        For Bruce, it promises to be a hectic yet memorable weekend of fun and catching up with friends and teammates. On Thursday night, he was guest of honor at a dinner for Rams sponsors. Tonight, he hosts the Celebrate 80 event at Lumiere Place to benefit the Isaac Bruce Foundation. The event is sold out. On Saturday, he's scheduled to speak to the Rams squad and has been diligently working on his speech.

        Martz, Vermeil & more

        The jersey retirement ceremony begins at 11:35 a.m. Sunday, or 25 minutes before kickoff for the Rams' contest against Carolina. Former Rams coach Mike Martz, now offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, is scheduled to introduce Bruce. (Martz is able to attend only because the Bears are in their bye week.)

        "It's only right," Bruce said. "That's all I can say about it. It's only right. You know, Mike's been there with me from day one. He was one of the guys that was very important in my career.

        "I think we developed a bond. He was always honest with me, and I was always honest with him. And it worked out well. I'm honored that he could come into town and be a part of this."

        Another of Bruce's former head coaches, Dick...
        -10-29-2010, 10:46 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Bruce, St. Louis Share Special Bond
        by r8rh8rmike
        Bruce, St. Louis Share Special Bond

        By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
        Posted Oct 27, 2010

        The love affair between Isaac Bruce and St. Louis started nearly from the day the Rams arrived in the Gateway City.

        In the 14 years that followed, that love only became more passionate, mutual and ultimately enduring.

        “I felt like the city adopted me and drafted me into their family,” Bruce said. “I kind of did the same thing with them. I felt like I was home for the second time in my life. We kind of had that mesh. We meshed together early in that 1995 season and it only grew from there.”

        On Sunday, that relationship becomes eternal when the Rams raise Bruce’s No. 80 jersey to the rafters of the Edward Jones Dome for reasons that go beyond his prodigious and prolific production on the football field.

        See, the bond between Bruce and the city of St. Louis goes well beyond first downs, touchdown catches and even Super Bowl victories.

        THE FIRST MEETING

        The initial meeting between Bruce and St. Louis came in 1995, the first year the Rams played in the city after moving from Los Angeles.

        Bruce was drafted by the Rams in 1994 and had spent one year with the team in Los Angeles. But Bruce knew, like many of his teammates, that a move was in the offing.

        Even as a rookie, Bruce had prepared himself for a new start elsewhere. While Bruce felt bad for the diehard Rams fans that were still around in the team’s final days in Los Angeles, the move to St. Louis had him excited about the opportunities it could provide.

        “I think when we first came to town in ’95; a lot of expectations were placed on us,” Bruce said. “Most of them were placed on us by ourselves. But just kind of knowing the history of the St. Louis Cardinals - the Big Red - that was there before we got there and football had gone away from that city for a long time so they were hungry. They were hungry for football and when we got there, it was a perfect match. It was our chance to stake our place and put roots down and we found what I believe was the perfect place.”

        St. Louis had been without football since the Cardinals picked up and moved to Arizona after the 1987 season. In the eight years that followed, St. Louis had endured numerous misfires in attempts to draw an expansion team.

        Football in the city was becoming a distant memory until team owner Georgia Frontiere teamed with local businessman Stan Kroenke and a host of others to build the Edward Jones Dome and bring the Rams to St. Louis.

        Finally, on Sept. 3, 1995, the Rams made their debut under the St. Louis banner at Green Bay. In one of the world’s most famous football venues, Bruce announced his presence with a sequence so scintillating that Rams fans couldn’t help but feel like it was love at first sight.

        In the second quarter...
        -10-28-2010, 12:38 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Bruce Likely To Say Farewell to NFL On Sunday
        by r8rh8rmike
        Bruce likely to say farewell to NFL on Sunday

        BY JIM THOMAS
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        31.12.2009


        There were times when Kurt Warner's or Marshall Faulk's star shone more brightly in St. Louis. The contributions of Rams players such as Torry Holt and Orlando Pace won't soon be forgotten, either.

        But if you had to pick just one player who truly exemplified the "St. Louis" Rams — the incredible highs and lows, and everything in between — how could it be anyone but Isaac Bruce?

        He was the last "LA" Ram to survive the franchise move to St. Louis — by years. He was the team's first Pro Bowler in St. Louis and only star in the early years here. And when the team's fortunes changed dramatically at the turn of the millennium, Bruce was in the thick of things.

        He always seemed to show in the big games. Be it his four-touchdown day when the Rams snapped their 17-game losing streak against San Francisco. Or his dramatic game-winning touchdown against Tennessee to win Super Bowl XXXIV.

        Bruce ran amazing routes. And even in his later years, his change-of-direction skills were unsurpassed. He was a fierce yet graceful competitor. But time catches up with even the most gifted athletes, and Bruce's time has come.

        It is all but a certainty that Sunday's game at the Edward Jones Dome will be Bruce's last as an NFL player. Bruce, 37, basically conceded as much Wednesday on a conference call with St. Louis reporters.

        "As far as this being my last game ... I'm probably about, I'll say, 75 percent sure," Bruce said. "But there's that 25 percent though."

        But those close to Bruce say he's much closer to 100 percent sure than 75 percent. How fitting, then, that in the 10th anniversary of the Rams' Super Bowl championship season, it looks like Bruce will close his career in the city where he spent 13 of his 16 NFL seasons.

        "I'm always excited to go back to St. Louis," Bruce said. "To go back to the dome. Be on that turf again. The fans. And see the employees that work for the Rams right now, that run that building. Just being in that atmosphere again. Seeing the banners that hang from the rafters, that's always exciting to me."

        Obviously, Bruce played a big role in many of those banners. All eight of his 1,000-yard seasons, all four Pro Bowl campaigns, and all but a relative handful of his catches and yards came playing for the blue and gold.

        When he saw highlights of the Rams wearing their '99 throwback uniforms earlier this season, Bruce said: "I got chills all over. ... Those were the colors I came in with. I think we should've never changed 'em."

        He has spent the past two seasons playing in San Francisco, but yes, Bruce still refers to the Rams as "we" on occasion. He still has...
        -12-31-2009, 12:05 AM
      • RamWraith
        Bruce's return only illustrates decline of Rams
        by RamWraith
        By Bernie Miklasz
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        12/22/2008


        It's difficult to imagine how the day could have gone any better for Isaac Bruce.

        He pulled one from the "Meet Me in St. Louis" script and had himself a Merry Little Christmas, only a few days early.

        The greatest wide receiver in Rams history came home to the Edward Jones Dome and was hugged more than a department-store Santa. He embraced old friends, teammates, coaches, ushers, cops, parking-lot attendants, X-ray technicians, fans and media slugs.

        And Bruce was still a most valuable baller, catching six passes in the fourth quarter, one for a touchdown, to spark San Francisco's proud 17-16 comeback victory over the same old sorry Rams.

        The ageless Bruce, 36, made like Chuck Berry and came up with a couple of gold records to add to his collection.

        The seven receptions gave Bruce 1,001 for his career, good for fifth place in NFL history. Only Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Marvin Harrison and Tim Brown have caught more NFL passes than Bruce.

        And given Bruce's history of providing highly charged moments in this theater, it figures that No. 1,000 would go for a 3-yard touchdown. The haul cut the Rams' lead to 16-10 and let the home team know they were about to choke away another one.

        "You just had to do it that way," former teammate D'Marco Farr told Bruce after the game. "One thousand had to come on a big play, right?"

        There was more. Bruce rolled up 61 yards, pushing his career total to 14,936, or enough to breeze by Brown and into second place in NFL history. There's Mr. Rice, followed by Mr. Bruce.

        The fans serenaded Bruce after each reception and gave him an ovation for reaching the 1,000 milestone.

        "I could hear it," Bruce said. "It's just the die-hard fans of the St. Louis Rams, the guys who show up no matter what. I was humbled by it and I'm very, very grateful. I was pretty much speechless through everything that went on."

        It was a perfect day, right?

        Bruce's answer surprised me.

        Bruce was bummed out by the thousands of empty seats at the dome. The crowd was generously listed at 54,948. Take about 10,000 off that and you'd be accurate.

        "I would have loved to have seen the stadium filled to capacity," Bruce said. "I'm sure we go a few hours on I-70 West, the Chiefs aren't doing too well, but I guarantee you it's packed right now. I'd like to see the same thing in St. Louis. And not just be the type of front-running fans. Come out and support your home team. This is what you wanted. It is what it is right now, but it's all subject to change."

        There is some merit to what Bruce says. This could have Bruce's final game in St. Louis, but the marginal outfielder So Taguchi received...
        -12-22-2008, 04:42 AM
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