St. Louis may never again have an NFL team, but the city’s football history can’t be erased.
This is evident on the league’s latest crop of Hall of Fame finalists, with Greatest Show on Turf vets Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce both in the field of 15. This is Warner’s third time as a finalist and Bruce’s first.
And while Bernie Miklasz was still enjoying vacation time Wednesday, the longtime Hall voter was kind enough to join his own morning show to discuss this year’s finalists. Bernie believes one of the two will make Canton this go-round.
“I believe [Warner] would’ve made it last year were it not for the presence of Brett Favre who took the quarterback vote,” Bernie told Anthony Stalter and Michael Young. “It’s not supposed to turn into a position battle, but when you only have five spots…It’s kind of hard psychologically for people to put two quarterbacks in.
“I think even Kurt understood Brett Favre was going to kind of eclipse everything and everybody…But now I think it’s Kurt’s turn,” he added. “There’s no other quarterback on the ballot. There’s not going to be a Hall-worthy quarterback on the ballot for a while. And he had one of the truly unique careers in NFL history.”
Warner’s position may help him with this year’s cut, but Bruce’s may be what holds him back a while.
“I think [Bruce is] a real long shot this year,” Bernie said. “I don’t want people to think I don’t believe he’s a Hall of Famer. I absolutely do.
“I’m just aware of the pragmatic nature of this thing where there’s so many wide receivers and they tend to cancel each other out. When Isaac Bruce retired, he was second in the league in history for receiving yards to Jerry Rice. Think about that.
“He was also fifth in catches and he was ninth in touchdowns. That was at the time he retired…He also made big plays in the postseason. This guy averaged like 17.5 yards-per-catch in the postseason. Had four touchdowns in nine games and look at what he did in the  postseason…He made big play after big play after big play. He’ll get there eventually.”
And the guy dropping those dimes for Bruce? He happened to help resurrect two franchises fresh off arena football, NFL Europe, and grocery-bagging stints.
“[Warner] didn’t raise the Titanic. He raised two titanics. The Rams were the losingest team in the 90s in the NFL until he got there and he took them to the Super Bowl and won it. The Arizona Cardinals had won one postseason game since 1947 before Kurt led them on that Super Bowl run.
“He’s got all kinds of postseason records, Super Bowl records…He’s a two-time MVP, Super Bowl MVP…I think he’s absolutely a Hall of Famer.”
Is ‘Air Coryell’ due for Canton?
Warner and Bruce may be most fresh in STL’s sports memory, but they’re not the only ones with local roots who could make the Hall this time. Don Coryell, head coach of the 1970s “Cardiac Cards” teams, is on the ballot for the fourth time.
While Coryell went just 3-6 in postseason games, the coach posted a 111-83 NFL record and was the first coach to win 100-plus games in both college and the pros. But Coryell is most known for his offensive innovations. How many coaches can say defense were created to stop them?
“I would put him on a very short list of the most influential offensive coaches in the history of the league,” Bernie said. “The nickel defense was invented to stop Don Coryell.
“Some of my fellow selectors have a hard time separating his record, especially in the postseason where his teams never got anything done…from the true value of his career, which was that of an innovator and a teacher and someone who took the passing game to a whole new level.
“People need to refocus why he’s a Hall of Famer. It isn’t the wins and losses as much as it is the impact on not only the contemporary time when he coached, but also on the future. The stuff teams are doing now all came from Don Coryell.”
Bernie’s entire interview on his own show can be found below.