It’s unusual for a pair of wide receivers from the same team to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In fact, it’s downright rare.
Lynn Swann and John Stallworth did it in Pittsburgh. Bobby Mitchell and Charley Taylor did it in Washington. Andre Reed and James Lofton did it in Buffalo, though Lofton was only there for four of his 16 NFL seasons. And now Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are trying to do it as Hall-of-Fame candidates from the Rams.
But if enshrining two receivers from the same team is so unusual, there’s an obvious question for Hall-of-Fame voters: Why should there be room in Canton for two from the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf?”
“Why should there be?” answered Holt on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “Man, when you talk about those guys — Stallworth (and Swann), (Jerry) Rice and (John) Taylor, Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith — there have been a ton of tandems. Good tandems.
“But I would put Isaac and I up there with being the best, with the volume in production, the style in which we did it, the consistency in which we did it, the accumulation of yardage and points and how teams were drafting and what they were drafting to try to slow us down.
“We helped change the game in how people coached the game and how guys backpedaled and how teams were drafting players to try to defend us.”
He’s right about the production and consistency, one reason Holt refers to him and Bruce as “the Dynamic Duo.” He’s also right about the drafting. I remember once asking then-defensive coordinator Jim Mora of the San Francisco 49ers why the club spent a first-round pick in the 2002 draft on defensive back Mike Rumph, and he answered in two words.
He didn’t have to explain. The team had so many outside weapons — with Bruce and Holt leading the parade — you had to have numerous defensive backs – and quality defensive backs — to cover them … or else.
When Bruce retired, only one other wide receiver had more yards receiving … and that was Rice. He was fifth in career catches, too. And that despite playing opposite Holt, an all-decade choice who set an NFL record with six consecutive seasons of 1,300 yards receiving or more — including two years where he led the league — and eight straight seasons of 1,188 yards or more.
But that’s not all. Holt also produced eight straight seasons of 81 catches or more, including a league-best 117 in 2003 and an NFL-record six consecutive years with 90 or more, and that’s with a Hall-of-Fame candidate at the other wide receiver position and Marshall Faulk in the backfield.
Faulk is in the Hall of Fame. So is former Rams’ quarterback Kurt Warner. Now, Holt and Bruce are semifinalists for the Class of 2018, with Bruce a finalist a year ago. So why should the two of them be considered? I think Holt just answered that question.
“Heck,” he said, “I tell this story all the time: Guys would bring out two or three different pairs of shoes prior to the game to try to figure out which pair they wanted to try to keep up with us. That’s the ultimate compliment. If that ain’t Hall of Fame (stuff) I don’t know what is.
“It was a fun, fun time, and I was able to do some amazing things with some amazing guys. And Isaac was one of them, for sure.”