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  • Rams’ Bruce hasn’t forgotten South Florida beginnings

    Rams’ Bruce hasn’t forgotten South Florida beginnings

    By Kristen Haunss
    Staff Writer
    Posted October 23 2004

    The Pied Piper had a pipe. Isaac Bruce has tickets.

    The St. Louis Rams' Pro Bowl receiver from Fort Lauderdale plans to make a stop in his old neighborhood when in town for Sunday's Dolphins-Rams game, and he might have some extra tickets.

    "[I want to] invite people to the game, people that might not normally have access to a pro game," he said. "Maybe I can make that dream come true for someone."

    The Dillard High graduate has 60 tickets and said there will be "a lot of Bruce fans" in attendance. This is only the second time he has played the Dolphins in South Florida and only the fourth time the two teams have met in Bruce's 11-year career.

    With 14 brothers and sisters, a lot of those Bruce fans will be family members. Although he said his mother, Kairethiatic, goes to St. Louis when she wants a taste of cold weather, and siblings sometimes catch games in Atlanta, it will be the first time in a while that most of the family will attend one of his games.

    Still, he doesn't believe their presence will have any effect on his play because he said he has business to take care of.

    "It's more important that I know that I have their support in any endeavor that I do," he said. "I don't think it will be any more intense than [usual]. They're not going to be on the field with me. My focus and my mind-set, as far as playing this game, will be high, but it won't have anything to do with my family being at the game because they watch every week on television."

    At the age of 3 Bruce was recruited by his older brother, Willy, to join the ranks of the Dolphin faithful.

    "I'm always a Dolphin fan, up until this week," he said. "There have only been three times I haven't been a Dolphins' fan, which was when I played them previously."

    Although Willy may have passed on a love of the Dolphins, his brother Samuel passed on the love of the game.

    "I grew up watching him play and that made me want to play, just follow his lead," Bruce said of his brother who played at Fort Lauderdale High.

    Imitating former Dolphins Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, Bruce spent his childhood catching passes on 29th Avenue from anyone who would throw them, dreaming of becoming a Dolphin when he grew up. But coming out of the University of Memphis, he said the Dolphins were the last team to call before the draft. "That was the only nibble I got from them," he said.

    But don't expect to see him playing for the Dolphins anytime soon. When asked if he could see himself donning a Dolphins jersey, amid laughter he let out an "Oh, man. I'm a St. Louis Ram through and through."

    This season, Bruce leads the 4-2 Rams with 39 receptions and one touchdown. He is third in the NFL behind San Francisco's Eric Johnson, who has 45 receptions, and Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, who has 43. Bruce is second in the league in reception yardage with 537 behind Green Bay's Jevon Walker's 597.

    He leads NFL wide receivers in third-down catches with 12 for 170 yards.

    Bruce, 31, had 100 or more receiving yards in the first four games this season, the first player to begin a season like that since Houston's Charley Hennigan in 1963 .

    "I wish I knew [what made him special]. I'd bottle it and sell it," said Rams coach Mike Martz. "He's the most intense competitor I've ever been around in any sport. I can't describe it. He's like a caged tiger, back and forth; he can't wait to get in the game."

    If this dominating spirit was something his family shared with him, the Rams might get a little bit of it themselves. Kairethiatic plans to drop off some food at the team's hotel Saturday night.

    Bruce said he misses Sunday night dinners, and in the offseason South Florida is his first stop.

    His presence does not go unnoticed.

    "I see all of the neighborhood kids. They know when I'm home. They always find me and we talk," he said. "We chat about different things, life and things I've seen and things that are available to them. I always let them know ... it is a big world and it's just waiting to be seen by those eyes."

    And if Bruce spends enough time on 29th Avenue, there just might be a Bruce-wannabe re-enacting his 73-yard touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXIV.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Rams’ Bruce hasn’t forgotten South Florida beginnings
    by RamWraith
    By Kristen Haunss
    Staff Writer
    Posted October 23 2004

    The Pied Piper had a pipe. Isaac Bruce has tickets.

    The St. Louis Rams' Pro Bowl receiver from Fort Lauderdale plans to make a stop in his old neighborhood when in town for Sunday's Dolphins-Rams game, and he might have some extra tickets.

    "[I want to] invite people to the game, people that might not normally have access to a pro game," he said. "Maybe I can make that dream come true for someone."

    The Dillard High graduate has 60 tickets and said there will be "a lot of Bruce fans" in attendance. This is only the second time he has played the Dolphins in South Florida and only the fourth time the two teams have met in Bruce's 11-year career.

    With 14 brothers and sisters, a lot of those Bruce fans will be family members. Although he said his mother, Kairethiatic, goes to St. Louis when she wants a taste of cold weather, and siblings sometimes catch games in Atlanta, it will be the first time in a while that most of the family will attend one of his games.

    Still, he doesn't believe their presence will have any effect on his play because he said he has business to take care of.

    "It's more important that I know that I have their support in any endeavor that I do," he said. "I don't think it will be any more intense than [usual]. They're not going to be on the field with me. My focus and my mind-set, as far as playing this game, will be high, but it won't have anything to do with my family being at the game because they watch every week on television."

    At the age of 3 Bruce was recruited by his older brother, Willy, to join the ranks of the Dolphin faithful.

    "I'm always a Dolphin fan, up until this week," he said. "There have only been three times I haven't been a Dolphins' fan, which was when I played them previously."

    Although Willy may have passed on a love of the Dolphins, his brother Samuel passed on the love of the game.

    "I grew up watching him play and that made me want to play, just follow his lead," Bruce said of his brother who played at Fort Lauderdale High.

    Imitating former Dolphins Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, Bruce spent his childhood catching passes on 29th Avenue from anyone who would throw them, dreaming of becoming a Dolphin when he grew up. But coming out of the University of Memphis, he said the Dolphins were the last team to call before the draft. "That was the only nibble I got from them," he said.

    But don't expect to see him playing for the Dolphins anytime soon. When asked if he could see himself donning a Dolphins jersey, amid laughter he let out an "Oh, man. I'm a St. Louis Ram through and through."

    This season, Bruce leads the 4-2 Rams with 39 receptions...
    -10-23-2004, 01:25 PM
  • RamDez
    Bruce showing that career has gone deep
    by RamDez
    Bruce showing that career has gone deep
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 16 2004

    Georgia Frontiere made a rare practice appearance Wednesday afternoon at Rams
    Park. She spoke briefly with coach Mike Martz and president of football
    operations Jay Zygmunt. But when practice was over, guess who she walked off
    the field with? Why, Isaac Bruce.

    Some around the NFL seemingly have forgotten that Bruce exists. But not the
    Rams' team owner.

    "She's always been great to me," Bruce said. "She's been great to my family
    from the first day I met her in Los Angeles. After I was drafted, she sent my
    mother a bouquet of flowers, and told my mother she'd take care of me. And
    she's held true to that."

    Bruce has held up his end of the bargain. Four Pro Bowls; 1996 NFL leader in
    reception yards; two-time team MVP; game-winning catch in Super Bowl XXXIV;
    career club leader in both catches and reception yards.

    He's steadily moving up the NFL's career charts as well, ranking 15th in
    reception yards (10,573) and 19th in receptions (697).

    "Yeah, (the numbers) mean a lot," Bruce said. "Especially once I'm done
    playing. But I don't see that happening any time soon."

    At times, coaches, scouts, fans, and the media have short memories. Some would
    tell you that NFL stands for "Not For Long." But for those thinking Bruce, at
    age 31, was approaching the twilight of his career, he delivered this simple
    message through his play last Sunday against Arizona: Think again.

    Bruce caught nine passes for 112 yards against the Cardinals, including the
    game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    "It was a whole lot of fun," Bruce said. "It was pretty much how we scripted
    it. It put us a game up in the division. We come out and start off on a winning
    note, and expect a carryover."

    For the first time since his hamstring injury years (1997-1998), Bruce dipped
    below 1,000 yards receiving last season. An ankle injury cost him one game, and
    limited him in the regular-season finale against Detroit.

    With Torry Holt seemingly becoming more entrenched as the Rams' go-to wide
    receiver, there were questions about whether Bruce's skills were in decline.
    Not to the extent of questions concerning teammate Marshall Faulk, but
    questions nonetheless.

    "Him and Marshall, I get a kick out of people saying they're not the same, and
    they've lost speed," Atlanta coach Jim Mora said Wednesday, on a conference
    call with St. Louis reporters. "They haven't lost anything. They're great
    athletes. They're great competitors. They take care of their bodies." ...
    -09-15-2004, 11:08 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
  • 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 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
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