ST. LOUIS — If we played named association and I said "Isaac Bruce", you'd probably respond with "Torry Holt". And vice versa. The two former St. Louis Rams receivers are forever linked.
Because of the pandemic, they could end up going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame together later this year. Bruce is already waiting on his day, and Holt is a finalist on the cusp of induction.
5 On Your Side sports director Frank Cusumano talked with both Bruce and Holt together about their St. Louis memories, feelings on the Rams leaving town, how they'd fare in today's NFL and why Holt is deserving of joining Bruce in Canton.
Holt and Bruce were part of the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams of the early 2000's and helped create of the most dominant offenses in the history of football.
The pair won a Super Bowl, got to another and racked up 158 combined touchdowns as Rams.
And when Holt first joined the Rams ahead of that magical 1999-2000 season, Bruce and the team had already laid the blueprint for what these Rams were going to be about. And for the receivers, it was all about business.
"When I got to St. Louis, Isaac was that way. It was about work, It was about competing, it was about being a good teammate, it was about understanding the culture of the team, it was about cleaning out the steam room when you got out. That was rule. And you fell in line. And it was all about winning," Holt said.
There was a healthy competition between the two star wideouts, but they never morphed into some of the attention-seeking receivers you often see in the league.
"We were fortunate that we had a 1A and a 1A, which was great," Holt said. "That we respected each other and respected the game. And Isaac correct me if I'm wrong, but for us it was about winning. It was about performing at a high level constantly and being there for your teammates."
And there was a lot of winning in those early days. And the more winning there was, the louder The Dome got and the more St. Louis went football crazy.
"The Dome was electric and you could feel it through your bones," Holt said. "Hats off to the folks in St. Louis. The Dome was incredible. Lots of great games witnessed in there. And they certainly helped us in our charge to winning multiple games and most importantly that Super Bowl."
"It was just all through the city," Bruce said. "Just to have a football team take over St. Louis which was known for being a baseball town."
But when the Rams bolted back to Los Angeles following the 2015 season, St. Louis was left without the team that had given it so many memories over the years.
Both Holt and Bruce said they were crushed to see the loyal fans that had shown them so much love hung out to dry.
"I was devastated. More devastated for the fans than for myself. I know change is always inevitable. Just being able to grow in that moment is what I chose to do," Bruce said. "But just really my heart went out to the fans, the fan base, everything they did to keep the team in town, as far as being able to come up with the funds for a new stadium and everything like that just showed their passion for their team and the game of football."
"I was hurt. I just saw a lot of the history that we built just kind of go away right then and there. So I was definitely shocked and hurt for the folks there in St. Louis. And I've been on record saying how I really felt about it. But I was really hurt and felt for the City of St. Louis. Because the fans there are tremendous. They're fantastic. And they love all of their sports," Holt said. "So to see that taken away for them for the second time I would say, was really disappointing. And also with the history we were able to create in the short amount of time there was something I was hoping we'd be able to hold onto for a very long time."
Even though there may not be a current team in St. Louis anymore, the memories of the Greatest Show on Turf days have proven to have staying power.
Bruce was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, but hasn't gotten his day in Canton yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Holt is a finalist again this year, with his best shot yet to get in. If he does, the pair would likely be inducted at the same ceremony later this year.
And Bruce has turned into a Hall of Fame hype man for his former teammate.
"My biggest stat for T-Holt is he's the only guy that's ever had 1,300 yards five years in a row. Not many people can say that, and I think he's the only one who can say that," Bruce said.
And Holt is feeling confident this year as well.
"I feel good. I felt good last year and I feel even better this year," Holt said. "Hopefully the voters will have a serious conversation about my case. I think my case takes longer than 3-4 minutes or 6-8 minutes to talk about what I accomplished in the National Football League individually as well as team-wise... And hopefully I'll get a few more votes this year and Ike and I will have a hell of a party in Canton."
No matter what, this pair is going to be forever linked. There's a case to be made that they're among the greatest wide receiver duos in the history of the NFL, and they know their connection was truly something special.
"When I talk to folks or when I'm introduced or see folks around, Isaac's name comes up immediately. I don't know if it comes up for Ike, but his name comes up all the time. So we're forever connected," Holt said. "I'm glad if I can reach the pinnacle of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with him, to me that's validation on careers that we had and being able to do it with someone I admire and like, and that means a lot."
"I think that the impact on the NFL that we left... I felt like we became the standard of what general managers around the league were looking for as far as that position was concerned," Bruce said. "Because you want someone to run routes against zone, versus man, be able to beat the press, take the top off the defense and at the same time be able to block every now and then. So I felt like we were that tandem and that standard and teams like Kansas City right now are still trying to mimic what we put on the field as far as the product was concerned."
Oh, and if the Greatest Show on Turf Rams were to face the current high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes?
"I think we'd most definitely rush for about 190 as a team. As far as through the air? I'd say it'd be a good 335-345 yard game for us. Definitely a lot of points. We'd score on them," Bruce said.
But who would our St. Louis Rams pull of the win?
"Oh absolutely," Bruce and Holt replied in unison.