LOS ANGELES -- Right around this time last year, former Rams coach Mike Martz made headlines by saying it was "out-and-out ridiculous" for Terrell Owens to be a Hall of Fame finalist over two of his former receivers, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
It's all happening again.
Bruce was recently named a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the first time, joining Owens, who is among the final 15 for the second year in a row. However, Holt did not make the cut. On Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl, the 48-person Selection Committee will reveal a maximum of eight Hall of Famers for the 2017 class. And it seems likely that Owens will get in while Bruce, and Holt, are again left out.
Martz believes that eventually all three will be Hall of Famers.
Last year's comments, told to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, weren't necessarily made because he believed Bruce and Holt were more deserving than Owens, Martz said in a recent phone conversation.
"We were talking about T.O., but there was very little mention of these other two guys, and I thought that was incredibly wrong," Martz said. "Just from a productivity standpoint, the production of both of those guys, and the achievements that they posted, and a couple of Super Bowl [appearances], and were key factors in winning a Super Bowl -- I just felt like they had been dismissed. And that T.O. was [perceived to be] at another level ahead of these guys, which to me is absolutely ludicrous. He obviously is a very important football player and probably deserves to get in. But to not talk about those guys and talk about T.O., I think, was wrong."
Bruce, a four-time Pro Bowler, ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards (15,208), 12th in receiving touchdowns (91) and 13th in catches (1,024). He led the NFL in receiving yards in 1996 and was named second-team All-Pro in 1999, a season that finished with a game-winning, 73-yard touchdown catch in Super Bowl XXXIV. Holt, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who was named first-team All-Pro in 2003, holds NFL records for most seasons with 90 catches and 1,300 receiving yards, marks he hit six times each. He finished his career with 920 catches for 13,382 yards and 74 touchdowns.
Owens, however, was first-team All-Pro on five occasions and finished with 15,934 receiving yards (second all-time), 153 receiving touchdowns (third) and 1,078 catches (eighth).
Owens' off-field antics might have been the only thing that kept him from enshrinement last year, issues that were never attached to Bruce or Holt.
"None of those guys had a self-promotion bone in their body," said Martz, who coached Bruce and Holt together from 1999 to 2005, first as offensive coordinator and then as head coach. "And St. Louis, too, it's a one-newspaper town. It's in that area, T.V.-wise, where it's not a big market. These guys do it in New York or Los Angeles, and I think that there's a lot of attention on it. They never sought attention. They just played. I always felt like both of them were kind of poster boys for what you're looking for in the National Football League. They're unselfish people who play hard and are one of the big reasons why you win games. I think they're good role models, and I think that's very important."