Isaac Bruce doesn't care for Conan O'Brien and still thinks that Martin Lawrence is the funniest guy on the planet.
Isaac Bruce likes Prince, is enjoying retirement in South Florida and still trains 3 days a week and has had 4 people name babies after him, including one family from England.
And not one of these things was easily shared by Mr. Bruce.
Let's back up...
This week Isaac Bruce was in St. Louis to visit SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and present a check for $10,000 to the hospital on behalf of Procter & Gamble. During his visit, SB Nation tagged along... well, because we were asked.
And when you have a chance to play Santa with one of the most beloved football players to ever strap it on in St. Louis? You just go to see what happens.
We all know Ike. Or at least we know about Ike. He's the St. Louis Rams' all time leading receiver. A Super Bowl hero. A deeply religious man who credits his escape from a life-threatening car accident to his decision to let go of the wheel and call out to Jesus.
If you hear someone talking bad about Isaac Bruce, that person is insane. Walk them to the nearest police station or hospital and have them committed. The dude has a reputation for extreme humility, and it's well-deserved. From humbly deflecting credit to Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk during his glory days to his selfless tutoring of young wideouts in San Francisco in his twilight, and everything personally and professionally in between, Bruce has never craved the spotlight.
In fact, how many commercials do you remember him in? Endorsements? Right. I can't think of any either.
So when I walked into the room Isaac was hanging out in before his Santa duties started, It really wasn't a surprise when he was sitting quietly in the corner, waiting for some instruction on how he could help.
Soon we were off on a mini-tour of the hospital facilities. Ever-observant, he listened patiently to administrators tell him all about their facility. He nodded politely and injected a 'wow' or 'that's cool' when appropriate. Other than noting that the 49ers have tons of Guitar Hero contests in their locker room, Mr. Bruce observed.
Just like he always did.
He noticed the kid in 3012 that lit up at the brief glance of one his favorite players and circled back later to take a picture. He overheard another child telling his mom about playing basketball and then was able to strike up a conversation about the Miami Heat with a truly overwhelmed young man.
He noted that Kurt's Corner- a wing of the hospital akin to a teenage playroom - needed to have something from him in one of the memorabilia cases. Upon inspection, it's true. He's one of the few 'Greatest Show On Turf' players not encased for eternal glory in the room.
The player they call the Reverend was at his best this day. Dropping by rooms with gifts. Doting on young kids that had no idea who he was. Making the years of the ones who did with a personal conversation, often acting more nervous than they were. He shrugged off pleas to come back to the Rams to help Bradford lead the Rams to the playoffs with typical humbleness, noting that after 14 weeks, he wouldn't be much help.
In short, Ike was awesome.
In a world where it's easy to be cynical and ask questions about why I was there if he was just doing this for the common good—I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that Isaac Bruce is one of the few former professional athletes who could have cared less if I were there or not.
In fact, several times he tried to hand me gifts to hold or asked for suggestions on which room to go to before I had to remind him that I was here to cover him.
He was more concerned about coverage of a different kind... making sure that all the kids that wanted to see him, did.