Delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic, at long last Rams legend Isaac Bruce was finally officially enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night in Canton, Ohio.
Safety Steve Atwater, guard Steven Hutchinson, running back Edgerrin James and safety Troy Polamalu joined Bruce as the five modern-era player members of the Class of 2020 enshrined this weekend.
"Very special, humbled by it," Bruce told reporters in July. "I think it's a great group of guys. Very humbling to be mentioned amongst guys like Troy Polamalu, (former Steelers head) coach (Bill) Cowher, Edgerrin James, guys like that. They had great careers."
It was the final stamp on an NFL career that Bruce began to realize as a dream when he was in college.
"Just about every place I had landed, I was the best player on the field, definitely the best wide receiver on the field, from West L.A. (College) to Santa Monica City College, to Memphis (and) those two years I was there," Bruce said. "I just felt like, once I got in a program, I could really develop into a good football player. And I think that's what happened at Memphis."
Though he had finished the 1993 season – his second and final at Memphis – with a program-record 74 receptions for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns, it supposedly wasn't good enough in the eyes of one scout. Bruce revealed during his hall of fame speech Saturday night that a "nameless voice" called him a couple weeks before the 1994 NFL Draft to tell him the league wasn't looking at him, that they didn't like him and "they liked more of NFL legends Bert Emanuel and Ryan Yarborough."
Nonetheless, the Rams selected Bruce 33rd overall in the second round in 1994 – eight spots ahead of Yarborough and 12 ahead of Emanuel – and he went on to post 1,024 receptions for 15,208 yards (second-most all-time) and 15 touchdowns across 16 NFL seasons, 14 of which were spent with the Rams. He was named to four Pro Bowls and chosen as an All-Pro in 1999 and retired as Rams' all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, and most yards from scrimmage.
Bruce received his gold jacket – that he was originally fitted for in February of 2020 – from his brother, Sam, who co-presented him for the Hall of Fame with former Rams assistant director of public relations Tony Wyllie, on Friday during the gold jacket ceremony held for both the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021.
The enshrinement ceremonies and speeches were split up over the remainder of the weekend, with the Class of 2020 up first on Saturday, followed by the Class of 2021 on Sunday. Three other members of The Greatest Show on Turf already enshrined in the Hall of Fame – Quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, and offensive tackle Orlando Pace – made it to celebrate with him on Saturday.
Dubbed "The Reverend" by his Rams teammates because "it was always his intention to pick up a Bible when it was time to put his helmet down," according to Bruce's foundation's website, the former Rams wide receiver appropriately began his speech giving thanks to God for that moment.
He also thanked his mentors, his family, his neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his former Rams teammates, as well as the defensive backs he went against.
He also didn't forget about that scout, either.
"I know you're alive, and I prayed God would keep you alive for this day," Bruce said. "My message to you is rap legend Kool Moe Dee wanted me to ask you: How Ya Like Me Now?"