FROM MEMPHIS TO CANTON Isaac Bruce's road to Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist



For more than 20 years, Isaac Bruce's senior season stood as The Greatest Show on Turf in Memphis (then Memphis State) history. In 1993, Bruce made 74 receptions for 1,054 yards and 10 TDs. He was one of 12 receivers in NCAA Division I-A with 1,000 yards that season. In 2016, there were 37.

“I noticed the Tigers never had a receiver go over 1,000 yards so I was like, 'OK, that's going to be one of my goals.' I was going to be the first Tiger to do it.”

Bruce, the 13th of 15 children, committed to Purdue out of high school in 1990. But his SAT scores were too low to let him accept a football scholarship. He enrolled for two years at Santa Monica College, improved his grades and played well enough to land a scholarship to Memphis State after his sophomore year.

He immediately became the favorite target of QB Steve Matthews, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1994 NFL Draft. Bruce caught 39 passes for 5 TDs, averaging 13.9 yards per reception as a junior. He finished as the school's all-time leading receiver and Memphis retired his No. 83 in 2003. In 2016, Anthony Miller surpassed Bruce's single-season records with 95 catches for 1,434 yards.

“I think Miller is the right guy to shatter the mark and set the new bar.”



Bruce returned to Los Angeles as the second-round selection (33rd overall) of the Rams in the 1994 NFL Draft. His first NFL catch was a 34-yard touchdown play in 1994. There would be 90 more TD receptions in a 16-year career that included 13 in St. Louis after the Rams moved in 1995 and his two with the San Francisco 49ers in 2008-09.

“He can jump out of the gym and make all the great catches. He just runs great routes and he has one of those attitudes where he will run all day for you and never complain. He just doesn't quit.” — Rams QB Chris Chandler

Bruce would team up with another Rams quarterback, Kurt Warner, to help form The Greatest Show on Turf. With Warner, Bruce, RB Marshall Faulk and WR Torry Holt leading the way, the Rams scored 500 points in three consecutive seasons (1999-2001) — an NFL first. Their biggest game came on the game's biggest stage. Bruce made six catches for 162 yards in Super Bowl XXXIV, including the game-winning 73-yard TD reception in a 23-16 victory against the Tennessee Titans.

“I just look back and see how many guys we had on that team [who] played unselfish football, which is kind of an anomaly in this day and time.”

Bruce retired as the Rams’ all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, and most yards from scrimmage. He finished with 1,024 receptions for 15,208 yards in 233 games — certainly numbers worthy of the Hall of Fame. Now it's up to the Hall of Fame Committee, which reveals the Class of 2017 on Saturday. But first you decide.

Should Bruce be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Sources: University of Memphis and Pro Football Hall of Fame; photos courtesy Memphis Tigers Athletics and Getty Images

Created By
Mike Bambach

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