This morning former St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, and future Hall of Famer, Isaac Bruce took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us about his foundation––the Issac Bruce Foundation.
Isaac, 40, began the foundation in 2006 and since then has fed over 2,500 families, had more than 3,800 kids participate in his foundation’s free football clinic, donated over 1,000 autographs to other charities for raffles and auctions, donated over 1,500 books to underprivileged students and given out over 700 NFL tickets to reward student athletes for their work in both the community and classroom.
His annual youth football clinics, hosted each summer, provide kids the opportunity to work on their football abilities, sportsmanship and teamwork skills while helping them build their self-esteem on and off the field. The camp is open to the public and held each summer at Rams Park. Registration forms are available on both Isaac’s website and his foundation’s Facebook page (I put the link to both pages at the bottom of this article) in the spring.
We were fortunate enough to get Isaac on the phone to talk to us about what he and his foundation have been up to, and he also gave us some insight on Rams training camp and goals he has for himself. Here’s the interview:
All-Out Blitz: Hey Isaac, thanks for taking the time to do this for us.
Isaac Bruce: No problem, thanks for having me.
AOB: You began your foundation, The Isaac Bruce Foundation, in 2006. What was it that made you start your foundation while you were still playing in the National Football League?
IB: It’s something that’s dear to my heart. We focus on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and education and I thought, if it’s working so well for me, why not broadcast it from the mountain top? I thought a foundation was the best way to do that.
AOB: Is there one thing you and your foundation prides itself on most, or do you try to focus on everything as a whole?
IB: Well, mostly as a whole, but we’re very pleased that over the years we’ve fed about 2,500 families with our partnership Feed the Families and had 3,800 kids participate in our free football clinic so that’s very dear to my heart. Any time we get a chance to help out the kids we get pretty excited about what we present for them.
AOB: You were born in Fort Lauderdale, FL but you’ve kept your foundation around the St. Louis area. What was it about Missouri that has kept you there after your playing days?
IB: Well I had a lot of success in St. Louis and while I was here I kinda knew people, and people knew me. The here itself is kinda like a second home to me. I’ve lived 13 years of my life here and I became an adopted son of St. Louis. I thought it was just right to start the foundation here.
AOB: Do you have any long-term goals for either yourself, or your foundation?
IB: Without a doubt. You know, one of my goals is to become an NFL owner. Another one is just to have the foundation here and solidify it here in St. Louis and branching out to other communities where I’ve spent time in, like Fort Lauderdale, and possibly new places. So I think those are basically my long-term goals for the foundation.
AOB: Have you taken any steps to becoming an owner yet, or do you see that as something that will happen further on down the road?
IB: Yeah, I’m doing a lot. First of all, I’m believing it already. So that’s the main part of it. And I take time to talk to owners and see how they carry themselves and things that they do, how they speak. I figure out where the owner’s meetings will be during the off-season and I pretend I’m packing a bag and getting ready to go.
AOB: What’s one thing you’d tell kids who are looking to become an NFL player?
IB: First create an identity for yourself. If you’re a football player, get an identity. Visit that identity, believe it, speak it. I think there’ll be many opportunities for people to try and pull you away from what you believe and what you do as a football player. And you have to have some things already set. Never allow anyone to pull you off your foundation. If you continually have that––because you’re gonna have some good days and some bad days––and you’re consistent with following your identity, you’ll be successful.
AOB: You were at Rams training camp this past week, we saw that you gave St. Louis’ wideouts a ‘private session’, most notably rookie WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Could you take us inside the session during Rams camp, and tell us what you guys talked about?
IB: Well they were having some questions about releasing off the line of scrimmage and I thought since, you know, I had one of the best coaches teach me how to get off the line of scrimmage, and the teammates I played with were great, that I could help them out. Az (Bruce’s former Rams teammate Az-Zahir Hakim) used his speed and ability, and just his know-how, to get off the line, so some of the stuff I was teaching them was really just what was taught to me. Just use what I have, always have a plan when I’m faced with press coverage. So that was the main thing I wanted to get over to those guys, just to help build their confidence.
AOB: After seeing them, and the team as a whole, in action this week how do you think they’re looking so far in camp?
IB: Well the initial progress is good, but right now it’s just Rams vs. Rams. So you’re gonna have some good days and some not-so-good days. So you’ll have a chance to get a real estimation of what the team can be once these pre-season games start. You’re gonna get some different kind of energy, some different coverages you haven’t gone against and some coaches who haven’t schemed against you, so you’ll really get a chance to see what these guys can do against some different competition. Probably Thursday.
AOB: With the Hall of Fame induction this past weekend, I feel that I have to ask you this: You’re two years away from eligibility, have you thought about it at all since retirement?
IB: Oh yeah, I think about it every day that I’m a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Just to see a guy go in like Cris, who put in a lot of work in the NFL for 16 years, very productive regular and postseason play. He just stood out. It was great to see Warren Sapp go in, I’ve had many battles against him. Larry Allen is a tremendous guy, tremendous offensive lineman. He was skilled, athletic, could do a whole lot of stuff a lot of people couldn’t do. So just to see the whole ceremony was really nice, and I think the guys truly deserve it. It was a great class.
AOB: Were you in attendance for the ceremony in Canton on Saturday?
IB: No, I’ve only been to Canton once. That was a couple years ago when Marshall (his former St. Louis teammate) went in. But I always make sure I watch it on television. Especially when a person goes in that played the same position as me. You know, I kinda wanna hear what he was thinking, his career situation, the people he thanked. I always make sure I go back and listen to it.
AOB: Speaking of Marshall, I guess you try to keep in touch your former teammates from the Greatest Show on Turf offense (1999 Super Bowl champion Rams team)?
IB: Yeah we do a pretty good job of that. We hook up a couple times during the off-season. Marshall had his golf tournament in St. Louis that we participate in. You know, the guys are living their lives right now but when we get together it’s all fun and games.
AOB: Alright, I think that’s about all we have for you today, Isaac. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us.
In addition to the countless projects he’s been working on to provide for underprivileged kids, families in need of food and rewarding hard-working student athletes in the area, Isaac’s foundation has also donated more than a quarter million dollars in grants and scholarships to kids looking to further their education.
Prior to starting up his foundation, Bruce turned in a 16-year Hall of Fame-worthy career, which included four Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pro selections, eight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards and a Super Bowl championship. Though he finished his career in San Francisco in 2008 and 2009, after the start-up of his foundation, Bruce returned to the St. Louis area post-retirement in 2010. Bruce still ranks in the top 10 for all-time receptions (1,024), receiving yards (15,208) and touchdown receptions (91).
Bruce is very busy with his foundation’s work and his personal long-term goal of becoming an NFL owner, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s in the football spotlight once again––he’s sure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio once eligible for entry.
The Isaac Bruce Foundation is hosting the Gridiron Gala on Friday September 27, 2013 at 7 pm (central time) at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis. It will feature music by Nikko Smith, entertainment by speed painter Michael Ostaski, food, drinks and live/silent auctions featuring unique memorabilia, experiences and trips. Isaac will be joined by current and former St. Louis Rams players in addition to other celebrities, and the event will raise money for the Isaac Bruce Foundation.
More information about the Gridiron Gala, and Isaac Bruce’s Foundation can be found at the following places: