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Burwell: Bruce's Return Recalls Heyday

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  • Burwell: Bruce's Return Recalls Heyday

    Bruce's return recalls heyday

    Bryan Burwell

    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:


    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.


  • #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


    • #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 Guest; -01-03-2010, 01:20 PM. Reason: Correcting information


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        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.

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        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."

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

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