Isaac Bruce and the Hall of Fame

It's a good thing the Pro Football Hall of Fame requires its voters to wait five years after players' retirement before considering them for election.

The time allows for greater perspective and more careful deliberation.

My first year as a Hall of Fame voter taught me the importance of the time spent deliberating the various candidates' worthiness. The testimony for New Orleans Saints great Rickey Jackson was particularly persuasive. I had gone into the room unsure whether I would vote for him, only to emerge feeling great about his election.

The case for Rams great Isaac Bruce might be similarly persuasive. I'd like to throw it open for discussion here. Fellow Hall of Fame voter Bernie Miklasz represents the St. Louis market, so he would be in line to present Bruce's case when the time comes.

"Yes, I believe Isaac Bruce is a Hall of Famer," Miklasz tweeted Monday. "So many big catches in big games and has the bulk stats. Also: great leader."

Statistical inflation at the receiver position makes it harder to differentiate players by the numbers. The quality of Bruce's receptions will be key in evaluating his candidacy. Some will ask whether Bruce was even the best wide receiver on his team. Bruce also wasn't as prolific finding the end zone as some other elite receivers.

Miklasz's point about Bruce being a great leader could be important in differentiating Bruce from candidates at a position known for producing players with reputations for selfishness. But Bruce will still have a tough time breaking through a logjam at the position.

Andre Reed was the only receiver other than Jerry Rice to make the list of 10 finalists earlier this year. Cris Carter and Tim Brown made the final 15. Cliff Branch's candidacy was eliminated earlier. Reed, Carter, Brown and Branch will be back in the conversation when voters convene in 2011. Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Torry Holt could be part of the discussion by the time voters seriously consider Bruce.

Bruce would benefit if voters decided to push through a few receivers in the next few years. It's tougher to break through when other great players at a position are siphoning off votes.

All-time NFL Reception Leaders