The numbers are staggering. The records, the Pro Bowls... but winning has always been more important to Isaac Bruce than anything else.
As a young player, as a rookie, I can remember him saying that the only thing that mattered to him was to be the best there is, and to be part of the best. He took a level of commitment, a standard that he set for himself, and worked towards that. A standard higher than anybody else's. A standard that affected all the people who coached and played with him, and raised their level as well.
When you look at greatness in players, that do something exceptional and special, the commitment they have is just different from everybody else's.
They expect and demand more of themselves, and certainly that defines Isaac Bruce. As a route-runner, as a receiver, his routes were legendary. He can embarrass any corner in the league. But what a lot of people don't realize, he was a complete competitor as a wide receiver. Blocking was just as improtant as anything else. He probably had more knockdowns than anybody else in the league. He hunted... he hunted down defensive backs.
He is the standard... [applause] He is the standard in the definition of how that position is supposed to be played.
This transcript is taken from the video just posted to StLouisRams.com of Isaac Bruce's pregame retirement ceremony. This was a loving and well-produced tribute enthusiastically attended not only by fans, but by Isaac's peers. Mike Martz stole the show, though, by arriving on his team's bye week and delivering this glowing tribute. The rest of his speech follows...
And the same excellence that he demands as a player, he demands of himself as a man. A man of strong convictions and deep faith, a man of God. He is a rock to all of his friends and those players that have been around him his whole life. Someone that they can depend on, and come back to, in times of need throughout their life. He is a very caring, loving and giving man. Through his foundation, what he's done for children, giving them opportunities that they may never have had. A great man.
He has touched the lives of all Rams fans everywhere, throughout his career. But for those of us who have been fortunate to coach him, or play with him, he has helped us be better professionals and better men. he is simply a great man, a great player; Number 80 will always stand for winning and excellence.
I give you, number 80, Isaac Bruce.