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Commentary: An unforgettable weekend in Canton

5 On Your Side Sports Director Frank Cusumano shares his reflections on one of the most memorable weekends in his career.

CANTON, Ohio — St. Louis Rams legend Isaac Bruce will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night. He is among a 28-member class that includes some of the greatest to have ever played.

And as Bruce prepares to make his speech, 5 On Your Side Sports Director Frank Cusumano shares his reflections on covering Bruce and being in Canton for one of the most memorable weekends of his career.

Isaac Bruce

Isaac Bruce said he is not nervous at all about tonight’s speech. I guess if you can make the game-winning catch in Super Bowl 34, nothing should really rattle you. 

His presenter will be Tony Wylie, a former Rams P.R. staffer. Wylie actually worked for the Titans when the Rams won their Super Bowl. After the game, Tony came into the Rams locker room and hugged Isaac and let him know how happy he was for him. 

Isaac’s brother, Sam, will be on the stage and pulling the cloth off the bust. Fitting, the Reverend has always been a man of the cloth. Tonight after the ceremony, Isaac and his family will go to the museum and see the bust put in its proper place.

After we finished up with him today, Bruce said: “Was that good, Frank? That was our 1001 interviews.” 

He may have been exaggerating a little but not by much. I remember being in Anaheim in 1995. It was the first-ever St. Louis Rams minicamp. Yes, they held it in California. 

Head coach Rich Brooks told me that the single most impressive player was a skinny second-year wide receiver named Isaac Bruce. Brooks was right: more than 1,000 catches, 15,000 yards, and 91 touchdowns. 

However, for me, it was about Isaac, the person. You never had to worry about him getting into trouble. His faith was too strong, he was too good a person and he was just genuinely a nice fellow. I feel really blessed to have gotten to cover his entire career and to get to know the man. 

I told my bosses that I needed to be in Canton to cover this. It’s an expensive thing to travel and we don’t do it as often. They agreed and I really appreciated it. I won’t forget this weekend for the rest of my career.

RELATED: Isaac Bruce will take his place in Hall of Fame as part of historic 28-member class

A Rams Reunion

Dick Vermeil, Mike Martz, John Ramsdell, Jay Zygmunt, Ricky Proehl, Will Witherspoon, Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Roland Williams are among those in attendance. 

The man who could be most responsible for Bruce becoming a Hall of Famer is Mike Martz. Martz was his receivers coach, his offensive coordinator and his head coach. If Mike hadn't shown up in St. Louis, I wonder if there really would have been a Greatest Show on Turf. Martz told me that he views Isaac as “Our fourth son.”

Vermeil discovered the fountain of youth. The man is 84 years of age. He looks like he’s 54 and he is as sharp as a 44-year-old. His wine business in Napa is thriving. You know doctors say it’s a good idea for your health to have one glass per day. Maybe it’s working. 

It’s big a weekend for the Coach. He not only has Isaac going in but also his star receiver from the Eagles, Harold Carmichael. Now it’s time for Vermeil to go in. He won the Coach of the Year award twice. He took two miserable franchises to the Super Bowl and won one of them. 

He went to have a nice run in Kansas City. The man has 120 career NFL victories. There are very few people who know Dick Vermeil who don’t respect his impact in the NFL. Put him in. I heard he has some growing support.

Joe Buck 

How about Joe Buck! He and his father Jack are now the only father-son combo play-by-play broadcasters in the Hall of Fame. Joe told me that during an average week, he dreams about being with his father four times. All fathers and all sons should dream about having a relationship like that. I don’t know for sure but I think we would have a slightly better country if sons and fathers loved each other in a similar fashion.

RELATED: 'I'm tethered to my dad, and thank God': Joe Buck joining dad with Pro Football Hall of Fame honor

Living Legends

For me, the coolest part of the weekend is the Gold Jacket Ceremony. On Friday, about 80 of these living legends were on hand for this special event. You look one way and you see Michael Irvin. You look this way and you see Dan Marino. 

So last night, all the players after the ceremony are being ushered onto the charter buses. About 10 fans were pleading with Roger Staubach to sign autographs. Roger’s wife is telling him to get on the bus. Roger signs the autographs. His wife just shook her head. I love Roger Staubach.

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