This man’s personal faith is ridiculously deep. 13 weeks into the miraculous 1999 Rams season, his car spun out of control off the highway at 70 miles per hour, his girlfriend in the passenger seat, life or death or dismemberment or at the very least a foreshortened career all flashing before him, and his response was to take his hands off the wheel and “trust God’s plan.”
So I’m just guessing that Isaac Bruce isn’t going to spend a moment worrying about this past weekend’s Hall of Fame vote. But perhaps he should. And as Rams fans, we certainly will.
Why? The same vote that enshrined his partner in the Greatest Show, Marshall Faulk, very ominously failed to vote in any of the three very deserving wide receiver candidates on the ballot: Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed. Wide receiver remains the least-represented position in the Hall, despite the fact that the NFL’s shift to a pass-dominant league is now 30 years in the making.
Here’s how Bruce’s stats line up with these three stars.
Receptions (All time rank in parentheses):
Carter - 1,101 (3rd)
Brown - 1,094 (4th)
Bruce - 1,024 (7th)
Reed - 951 (10th)
Bruce - 15,208 (3rd)
Brown - 14,934 (4th)
Carter - 13,899 (8th)
Reed - 13,198 (11th)
Carter - 130 (4th)
Brown - 100 (6th)
Bruce - 91 (9th)
Reed - 87 (12th)
Carter, Brown and Reed were voted into the Pro Bowl a combined 24 times by the fans, but after ten tries already none of the three has been voted into football’s Valhallah. (Reed has been eligible for the Hall since 2005, Carter since ‘07, Brown since ‘09.)
The point here is not to split hairs, comparing Bruce’s candidacy against the others; these elites all belong in the Hall. Isaac’s career production stands shoulder to shoulder with this group, a clear step down from uber-elite Jerry Rice, but a clear step above any other bronze bust who played the position. If Carter, Brown and Reed can’t get in, neither can Bruce.
And that’s the core of the problem -- if they are all such good candidates, how are voters expected to pick one over the other? Each siphons votes from the other.
Because he retired this year, Bruce won’t be eligible until 2015. So it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that this logjam will have cleared up by then. But other names will be added to the discussion soon -- names like Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and even Bruce’s teammate Torry Holt. And that’s just the receivers. Other iconic players like Walter Jones, Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner, Michael Strahan and plenty more will be able to make great cases as well, with more added every year.
It’s imperative that the NFL’s 44 Hall of Fame voters break the WR logjam. It should have been done this year, with Cris Carter leading the way in. Now we have to wait until 2012, and hope that it will all work out according to Someone’s idea of a plan.