ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – To explain the incredible rise of Kurt Warner – from no-name to Hall of Fame – Isaac Bruce has the perfect story. It was about the first time he met Warner.
“It has to be around 1998… It’s funny, I was in the weight room and you know they have these scripted programs that we have to follow in the weight room and as I’m looking for my script I see the name ‘Kurt Warner.’ So what pops into my head, with me being a football junkie, is Curt Warner, running back for the Seattle Seahawks. And I’m like ‘Whoa, this dude? We signed this guy? This guy must be in really good shape because his age is old.’ So honestly, I thought that we had a new running back.”
Thankfully, it wasn’t the aging running back that he went on to play for six seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Instead, Bruce and Warner connected for 39 touchdowns between 1998 and 2003, with the Rams.
Hear the full interview with Issac Bruce and KMOX’s Tom Ackerman:
Bruce says what impressed him the most about Warner was his resiliency, and how much respect he gained in a short amount of time. Warner was a bench player in St. Louis, in 1998, until a knee injury to the talented QB Trent Green in the 1999 preseason, which gave Warner the chance to start.
His gifted arm strength and quick release, thanks to his days in the Arena Football League, were the first things that impressed Bruce. But there was more that helped Warner along is HOF career.
Related story: Kurt Warner’s Best Moments With The St. Louis Rams
“That was back in the day when quarterbacks were fair game and you know he has to stand in the pocket,” Bruce says. “We had a lot of seven-step drops in our offense. For a guy to know what’s coming and be able to take it right in the mouth and still deliver, that’s my kind of football player.”
The perfect example of Warner’s toughness comes from a highlight that will no doubt be seen, and spoke of, at this weekend’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Super Bowl 34, the Rams were tied with the Tennessee Titans 16- 16, with less than two minutes to play. The play call was “Twins Right, H-Right 9-99.” The play began at St. Louis’ own 27, and Bruce knew the ball would be coming to him.
Warner took a long drop, stepped up in the pocket knowing that pressure was coming and flung a deep pass to Bruce down the right sideline.
“You know he stood in that pocket and he was getting chased he was getting hit, I think he suffered some deeply bruised ribs, I don’t know if you ever had bruised, or broken ribs man, it’s truly uncomfortable,” Bruce says. “But to have Jevon Kearse chasing you and touching your arm as you release a football, it’s not for the faint of heart. So Kurt just stood in and made a great play.”
Bruce says, for fun, he’ll be counting exactly how many times that play is shown and talked about this weekend in Canton, Ohio.
Warner will be the last to speak of the seven members of the 2017 HOF class. He will be introduced by his wife, Brenda Warner.
Our Tom Ackerman asked Bruce if he believes the “Greatest Show on Turf” team was the most offensively dominate group in NFL history. Bruce would neither confirm, nor deny. But he did mention it’s a good argument, especially now three members of that offense in the Hall of Fame (Warner, Marshall Faulk and Orlando Pace).
“With the possibility of more to come,” Bruce says.