Five former Rams players were announced as semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015.
Four of them were members of the “Greatest Show on Turf”.
Last night, NFL Network unveiled the 26 semifinalists for the upcoming Hall of Fame class. Typically, there are 25 semifinalists, but because of a tie, an extra person made the cut. The original field of potential inductees consisted of 113 total nominees. In early January, the list of 26 semifinalists will be cut down to 15. And on January 31st, the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015 will be announced.
As for the five Rams that made the semifinalist list, the four that were on the “Greatest Show on Turf” also happen to be on the ballot for the first time. The other was a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Each one, just like the other 21 potential inductees, all have good cases going for them to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.
First, there is linebacker Kevin Greene. Greene was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the 13th pick in the 5th round of the 1985 Draft. He has been a semifinalist every year since 2007. In a 15-year NFL career, Greene finished with a total of 160 sacks, five interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns. Greene was also a five time Pro Bowl selection, and three-time All-Pro selection.
Then, there is wide receiver Torry Holt. Out of all the Rams players that made the semifinalist field, Holt played the fewest amount of seasons (he played eleven seasons in the NFL). The St. Louis Rams selected him sixth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft, and right away, he made an impact, and continued to do so until he retired in 2009 after short stints with Jacksonville and New England.
Throughout his decade-plus career, Holt broke over ten NFL records, most notably having six consecutive seasons of over 1,300 receiving yards. He finished his career with 920 receptions for 13,382 receiving yards, and 74 touchdowns.
Along with Holt, during the “Greatest Show on Turf”, there probably was not a more well-known wide receiver than “The Reverend” Isaac Bruce. Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft, Bruce was the last remaining L.A Rams player to retire, ending his career in 2010, after spending two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. In 1995, he recorded 119 receptions, an NFL record for a player under 25 years old.
One of his most notable receptions came in Super Bowl XXXIV. With the game tied at 16 late in the 4th quarter, Bruce caught a 73-yard pass and ran all the way to the end zone, giving the Rams the 23-16 lead, and after the historic stop on defense, the Rams only Super Bowl title to date.
Bruce is fourth all-time in receiving yards, with 15,208 yards, and 1,024 career receptions. His #80 jersey has been retired by the Rams organization.
From 1997-2008 for the Rams (and in 2009 for the Bears), there was not a more critical member of the offensive line than Orlando Pace. St. Louis selected him with the first overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. The cornerstone and anchor of the offensive line, the Rams passed for over 3000 yards in all 12 of his seasons with the Rams (seven different quarterbacks doing so), and seven of his seasons consisted of blocking for a 1,000 yard rusher.
Injuries plagued him near the end of his career, and despite that, Pace had started 154 consecutive games during his career, was a five time All-Pro, and seven time Pro Bowl selection.
Last, but not least, there’s quarterback Kurt Warner.
Warner’s story and journey to the NFL is renowned across the NFL. From stocking shelves in an Iowa store, to throwing touchdowns in the NFL, it’s considered by many to be one of the greatest success stories in NFL history.
In 1998, Warner spent the year behind both Tony Banks and Steve Bono, with minimal reps during a game.
In 1999, the Rams brought in Trent Green to fix the struggling quarterback position. However, early on in the preseason, Green suffered a torn ACL, and ended up being out for the year.
Warner was thrust into the starting role, and the rest, as they say, is history.
He set a Super Bowl record, throwing for 414 yards in Super Bowl XXXIV, and owns the three highest passing totals in the Super Bowl.
With Faulk, Bruce, Holt, among others at his arsenal, and help from Pace, Timmermann, and the rest of the Rams’ offensive line, the Warner-led Rams torched defenses on a weekly basis, set a record for scoring 500+ points in three straight seasons (1999-2001). It is anticipated by many that Warner will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but that remains to be seen.
Throughout his 12-year career, Warner threw for 32,344 yards, 208 touchdowns, 128 interceptions, and a cumulative passer rating of 93.7. As an NFL starter, his record was 67-49. Including the CFL and AFL, he went 104-63 in his career.
He also had a notable tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, forming a formidable tandem with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald as he had done with Bruce many years prior. The Arizona Cardinals made their first Super Bowl appearance with Warner at the helm, but ultimately fell short against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Another former Rams player, Jerome Bettis, is also once again on the Hall of Fame semifinalist ballot. Bettis is one of the league’s all-time leading rushers, rushing for 13,662 in his 13-year career, with three of those seasons being spent with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams.
Greene, Holt, Bruce, Pace, and Warner, along with the other 21 semifinalists, have all made an impact on the game of football, whether for one team or multiple teams. It remains to be seen who will become a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but each one of them would be a welcome addition to be part of football history forever.