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Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

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  • Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

    Isaac Bruce tries to show Rams the way out of the darkness

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    As Isaac Bruce addressed dozens of sentimental friends and admirers Wednesday in the big auditorium at Rams Park, I couldn't help but notice coach Steve Spagnuolo and a few of the young Rams standing along the wall, intently watching the icon share his words and wisdom.

    Bruce's message seemed to resonate with the new Rams, who were clearly moved by Bruce's expressions of devotion to the franchise. As Bruce came home Wednesday, as he officially retired from a luminous 16-year career, he gave an inspirational farewell address that fully demonstrated his value as a leader.

    Even in retirement, Bruce was trying to show the way.

    Trying to show the Rams the way to the light, and out of the darkness.

    "Wow, what an amazing person," said James Laurinaitis, the second-year Rams middle linebacker. "He's so impressive. That's a man I'd like to get to know."

    The coach agreed.

    "That was really something," Spagnuolo said. "I've gotten a chance to visit with Isaac a little over the last couple of days, and now I understand what everyone is talking about when they speak of him in such glowing terms. He's truly special."

    Bruce talked about coming to the Rams in 1994 as a No. 2 draft pick and refusing to capitulate to a losing environment that had demoralized the franchise. And the Rams are in a similar situation now, trying to rise above a 6-42 record and all of the humiliation that's been heaped upon them over the last three seasons.

    But Isaac Bruce was part of a revival, way back when.

    And it can be done again. And when Isaac Bruce testifies, you'd do well to believe in what he says. I've never covered a more serious or sincere man. Or a better man, for that matter.

    "We came to this organization that was bottom of the barrel. And at that moment, I knew this was where I was supposed to be," Bruce said. "I chose to continue to walk by faith. I chose to speak life to what seemed like a lifeless situation. The moment I got here, I claimed ownership to this organization.

    "I will never be too big not to clean up around this place, pick up a piece of trash, or I would never be too big or small to do anything else needed by this organization. I've always thought it was the greatest organization in the league, and I would never do anything or say anything to tear down my own house with my words or with my hands."

    In a classy gesture, the Rams made an arrangement with the San Francisco ***** to "acquire" Bruce's rights so he could retire as a Ram. And the Rams topped that off by announcing they'll retire Bruce's No. 80 at the home game Oct. 31.

    Bruce finished his career ranked second in NFL history in receiving yards, fifth in receptions, ninth in touchdown catches and 14th in yards from scrimmage. And that is only half the story of what should be a Hall of Fame career. Bruce always put the team's goals first.

    Example: When the Rams faced a must-win contest at New Orleans to make the playoffs on Christmas Eve 2000, Bruce caught only two passes. Marshall Faulk was the star of the 26-21 victory, rushing for 220 yards. Bruce was supposed to be the centerpiece of the game plan, but coach Mike Martz adjusted after the Saints blanketed the receivers. Instead of pouting over a reduced role, Bruce burrowed in and delivered the downfield blocks that freed Faulk for big gains. In reviewing the game video, coaches gave Bruce credit for knocking down 16 Saints with fierce blocks.

    More than any other Ram, Bruce was the leader, the touchstone, the soul that held the place up and kept it strong. He was calm during tempestuous times. He was the spark when the team needed a blast of energy. Though not an outspoken player, Bruce had a presence that's hard to explain or quantify. He was just THERE. All knowing, all seeing, all wise — and completely wired in. And you could just feel it whenever you walked into that locker room. Players and coaches always picked up on Bruce's vibe.

    "It's not about what he says, it's about how he carries himself every single day," retired Rams defensive tackle D'Marco Farr said as he introduced Bruce. "His locker was three down from me, and just the way he did things ... I'd just look at him and I wanted to be everything that Isaac was about."

    Bruce marked the time for the Rams' experiences in St. Louis. In the first regular-season game the Rams ever played in representing St. Louis — the 1995 opener in Green Bay — Bruce blocked a punt, then caught a 23-yard touchdown pass on the next play.

    When the 1999 Rams needed to prove themselves by toppling their bully — the San Francisco ***** — Bruce caught four touchdown passes from Kurt Warner to get it done.

    The first home postseason game in St. Louis history? Jan. 16, 2000 against Minnesota. On the Rams' first play from scrimmage, Bruce pulled in a slant pass and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown.

    And when the '99 Rams became Super Bowl champions with an extremely tense victory over Tennessee, it was Bruce who adjusted mid-route to come back for an underthrown pass. The 73-yard touchdown won the Super Bowl.

    And when the Rams went into a steep decline — when the previous management regime was doing a series of remarkably stupid things — Bruce was treated shabbily. He ended up playing two seasons for the *****. So even in the worst of times, Bruce symbolized the state of the franchise.

    That's why it was so important to have Isaac Bruce come home to make things right. His farewell tears weren't in vain. As the Rams prepare to move forward in search of better days, No. 80 reminded us of all that is possible as long as you dare to believe.

  • #2
    Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

    It seems Isaac Bruce can bring out the best in anyone...even Bernie.

    Nice piece.


    • #3
      Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

      And for once I actually agree with Bernie...

      GO RAMS!



      • #4
        Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

        I looked up the word "class" in my dictionary and saw a picture of Isaac Bruce.

        Welcome home Ike.


        • #5
          Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

          Is there a video of this somewhere? I would really love to see it if someone could provide a link. (Never mind just realized it is on the official St. Louis Rams website.)
          Last edited by mikhal5569; -06-10-2010, 08:59 PM.


          • #6
            Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

            That is a man of integrity, they don't make em like that anymore. That's a person you can look up to Love and appreciate. A man's man, a man any man who's about something would want to be like.


            • #7
              Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

              Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
              The first home postseason game in St. Louis history? Jan. 16, 2000 against Minnesota. On the Rams' first play from scrimmage, Bruce pulled in a slant pass and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown.

              I'm fastidious but it was a post not a slant, with Torry running another post on the same side.
              Si vous croyez en vous, que vous avez de la fierté, et que vous ne lâchez jamais, vous serez un gagnant.
              Le prix de la victoire est chère, mais la récompense en vaut la peine.


              • #8
                Re: Bernie: Isaac Bruce Tries To Show Rams The Way Out Of The Darkness

                This is all good stuff
                Always a Rams Fan............

                Rex Allen Markel


                Related Topics


                • Nick
                  Bernie: Keeping Bruce was the right thing to do
                  by Nick
                  Bernie Bits: Keeping Bruce was the right thing to do
                  By Bernie Miklasz
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                  Friday, Mar. 10 2006

                  Twins right, ace right, 999, halfback balloon.

                  The play that changed NFL football forever in St. Louis.

                  The incredible play that produced the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV.

                  With the score tied at 16-16 and the weary Rams running low on oxygen,
                  quarterback Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce connected on a
                  73-yard TD pass that gave "The Greatest Show on Turf" a championship-winning

                  The tough-minded Warner was smacked hard as he released the pass, so the ball
                  hung up a bit. Bruce adjusted on his "go" route down the right side, slowed,
                  and turned back for the pass. Bruce outfoxed a Tennessee defender, scampered
                  away, and crossed the goal line with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining.

                  It was the greatest offensive play in the history of NFL football in St. Louis.

                  And it was one of the many reasons Isaac Bruce will always be special in this

                  Bruce is the leading receiver in Rams history in receptions, yards and history.
                  He's the last of the original STL Rams, having moved here with the team from
                  SoCal in 1995.

                  But Isaac Bruce is much more than that.

                  Bruce is a wonderful person who sets the right example for his teammates -
                  especially the young wideouts who see how hard he works to perfect his craft.
                  He has been a tremendous influence on Torry Holt, Az-Zahir
                  Hakim, Kevin Curtis, Dane Looker and Shaun
                  McDonald. Bruce's relentless competitive streak is something that every
                  team needs.

                  And at age 33, Bruce can still play. He averaged 14.6 yards a catch last
                  season, his highest rate since 2001. He's still an important part of this
                  franchise. And Bruce will be a valuable locker-room presence for new head coach
                  Scott Linehan.

                  The Rams did the right thing in arranging a satisfactory deal for Bruce, so he
                  could stay with the only franchise he has ever known.

                  If any player was meant to spend his entire career in a Rams uniform, it's No.
                  -03-10-2006, 11:32 PM
                • 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
                • RamWraith
                  Bruce Continues Climb
                  by RamWraith
                  Monday, December 17, 2007
                  By Nick Wagoner
                  Senior Writer

                  Marshall Faulk will make history Thursday night when he is the first St. Louis Ram to have his number retired.

                  Someday, Isaac Bruce will almost certainly join him in the rafters. But as fans show their appreciation for Faulk, it might be a good idea to do the same for Bruce, who is on a collision course with history in his own right.

                  Bruce continued his climb up the charts of the league’s greatest receivers last week, passing Marvin Harrison for fourth place on the all-time receiving yards list. When all is said and done, Bruce hopes to see his No. 80 rise toward the heavens.

                  “As soon as I’m done, go ahead and retire that number, and put Henry Ellard’s name right on top of it,” Bruce said.

                  The catch that moved him past Harrison was patented Bruce. He deked Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson downfield and hauled in a 37-yard pass. That gain nudged him past Harrison. He went on to finish with 72 receiving yards, pushing him within striking distance of the next name on the list.

                  Entering Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh at the Edward Jones Dome, Bruce needs just 22 yards to pass James Lofton for third place on said list.

                  The always humble Bruce is enjoying his rise up the ranks and says he’s honored to be mentioned with the likes of Lofton and Harrison.

                  “It’s big when you sit back and look at the numbers,” Bruce said. “Like I say, I am very grateful. I give praise to God daily for the numbers that are being surpassed. When you look at the guys and the names, it’s amazing that your name can be in the same group with the Tim Browns, the Jerry Rices, guys like James Lofton. It’s amazing and humbling.”

                  Bruce’s 13,983 receiving yards make him the most productive receiver among active players. In other words, no player in the league right now has accounted for more yards than Bruce.

                  The only players sitting ahead of Bruce after he surpasses Lofton are Rice and Brown. Rice has set the bar extremely high, accumulating about 8,000 more yards than No. 2 Brown, but Bruce is certainly in striking distance of Brown.

                  “I will enjoy being No. 3, but I’m looking forward to No. 2,” Bruce said. “It’s still going so it’s not my time to sit back and look at the entire body of work.”

                  In 2007, Bruce has 46 catches for 607 yards and three touchdowns. Although he won’t reach the 1,000-yard mark like he did in 2006, Bruce remains productive even now in his 14th season.

                  Of course, Bruce’s continued precise route running and ability to perform comes as no surprise to those who have been around him.

                  “I’m not amazed at all,” Faulk said. “I watched him. I understand. He takes it serious. He works out as hard as anyone. It all makes sense to me why he is still in the league competing. If...
                  -12-19-2007, 06:03 AM
                • RamWraith
                  Avoiding Bruce talk
                  by RamWraith
                  Why is everyone dancing around the topic of Bruce?? I love this guy to death but we have some serious problems and with him being able to hang on to the rock!!:frown:

                  If you are going to rip Bulger...Bruce better be in the same sentence (Mokler :eek: )
                  -08-30-2005, 04:52 PM
                • RamWraith
                  Bruce wants an extension
                  by RamWraith
                  'Unbelievable' Bruce is still rolling along
                  By Jim Thomas
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                  His toe is hurting, his team is hurting, but Isaac Bruce's spirit remains unbowed. After 11 seasons in St. Louis, should we expect anything less from Bruce?

                  If he hasn't seen it all since the Rams' franchise moved here in 1995, Bruce has seen most of it. Highs, lows and in-betweens. Pro Bowls, Super Bowls, and 4-12. Coaches and players come and go.

                  For only the second time since 1998, Bruce won't be appearing in a playoff game this postseason. But he takes umbrage at the notion that there's nothing to play for in the final three games of the season.

                  "I've got a lot to play for," Bruce said. "And this team has a lot to play for. So we don't look at it like that.
                  "It's always about being a professional. Just because we're mathematically out of it, you just don't go and say, 'OK, I'm going to box it up right now.'"

                  This hasn't been the easiest season for Bruce to do his job, in large part because of a painful turf-toe injury he suffered Sept. 25 against Tennessee. Bruce missed the next five games, returning after the bye week to play at Seattle on Nov. 13.

                  Since then, he has caught 18 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Even with the injury, Bruce can still get down field, as evidenced by his 16.2 yards per catch over the past five games. But there's no doubt the toe still is bothering him. Dislocated toes can take forever to heal properly.

                  Bruce doesn't like talking about injuries. It's almost as if he's denying their existence - at least in his mind - by doing so. So when asked Wednesday if the toe injury was behind him, the answer was typical Bruce: "When I get out on the field, I put it behind me."

                  Bruce's name hasn't appeared on the injury report for weeks now, but the toe isn't 100 percent. Interim head coach Joe Vitt concedes as much when he says Bruce "is playing a little dinged right now, and that's a credit to him."

                  Dinged or not, Bruce seems to set another career milestone every time he steps on the field these days. Last week against Minnesota, Bruce moved into 10th place on the NFL's career receiving list with 12,181 yards. He's the only active player on the list, although Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison (12,177) and Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith (12,100) are nipping at his heels.

                  On Sunday against the Vikings, Bruce also became the 14th player in NFL history with 800 receptions. Among active players, only Harrison (917), Smith (847) and San Diego's Keenan McCardell (810) are ahead of Bruce's 804 catches.

                  For those who think Bruce is ready to be put out to pasture at age 33, here's some food for thought. He is more than three years younger than Smith; nearly three years younger than McCardell; and nearly three months younger...
                  -12-15-2005, 04:22 AM