In August, Isaac Bruce will join former Rams teammates Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk as the fourth member of the “Greatest Show on Turf” at Canton, Ohio, as the latest inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bruce became eligible for the Hall in 2014, five years after his final season in the league. With 1,024 career catches, 15,208 receiving yards and 91 touchdowns in a 16-year career, one would think that Bruce would have an easy road to Canton and not experience anything scary about getting into the hall.
However, Bruce revealed on the “Catchin’ Fades” Podcast hosted by Aqib Talib on June 22 that there is a scary part regarding heading into the Hall of Fame. Talib, who played two seasons for the Los Angeles Rams during his 12-season career, asked the incoming inductee what the process is on learning about one’s HOF induction. Right away, Bruce revealed the heart-sinking part.
“What you don’t want is the call,” Bruce told Talib. “If you get the call, they’re calling to let you know, ‘Better luck next year.’ You don’t want the call.”
For Bruce, this likely means that he was the recipient of six straight phone calls informing him he wasn’t invited to Canton. In 2020, Bruce finally was told he got the invite, but the spread of coronavirus forced cancelation of the annual ceremony.
Bruce Shares the Importance of ‘The Knock’
The call represents the dark side of learning about one’s HOF status. Bruce, though, unveiled to Talib when a former player knows that he’s heading to Northeast Ohio come August.
“You want to hear the big pounding of President David Baker’s right fist pounding on the door,” Bruce said. “That’s normally how you get the news. So we found out that way.”
Bruce described his knock by Baker as a “when your heart jumps into your stomach” kind of moment in February 2020 on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo radio show.
The 68-year-old Baker has served as president of the hall since 2014. Baker, who was once the commissioner of the Arena Football League, started his knock tradition in 2016.
Bruce and 2020 Class Part of a Dual Evening Spectacle
Again, because there was no ceremony last year, the 2020 HOF class will be joining the 2021 inductees on George Halas Drive.
“It’s going to be the full weekend beginning August 4 and ending August 9. So what’s happening is, 2020’s enshrinement is that Saturday night and 2021’s enshrinement will be that Sunday night. So they’re going to be combining the two groups,” Bruce said. “It should be something to behold.”
Bruce is one of 14 receivers who caught more than 1,000 passes in career and is currently 13th on the all-time list. He’s fifth on the all-time list in receiving yardage trailing in order Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald and the leader Jerry Rice. Bruce is one of 12 NFL players who scored 90 touchdowns, joining another Rams legend in that category Eric Dickerson.
Though Talib spent his career shutting down wide receivers, he gave his praise to the former Ram wideout on his podcast.
“When I think of Isaac Bruce, I think of quickness, speed, route-running, catches and finishes,” Talib said.
Bruce no longer has to worry about the heart-wrenching part of the HOF process since he got his knock on the door. Bruce helped end the podcast interview by briefly sharing to Talib what he believes makes a Hall of Famer.
“The first thing as a football player, that we look at, we are not looking for you to fear us, we are looking for you to respect us,” Bruce explained. “From the moment you walk into that locker room, it is about respect. To the moment that we are on the field competing against one another, it is about respect.”