“‘Surprised’ isn’t the word,” said Martz, who coached the rams from 2000 to ’05. “You can’t print how I felt when T.O. leapfrogged those two. That’s just plain out-and-out ridiculous.”
Both Bruce and Holt failed to make it onto the final ballot for the second year in a row. Owens earned a spot as a finalist in his first year of eligibility, which Martz credited to his showboating persona.
“Had they promoted themselves, which was contrary to everything we were about, they’d probably get in without an issue,” Martz said. “Had they pulled a T.O., they’re probably get in without an issue. That’s just not who we were.
“If they big-timed it and did all that dumb stuff, they’d probably get in earlier. I think they’ll eventually get in. I don’t think that’s an issue, but it’s tragic that people think of them like that. If Marvin Harrison gets in, how could they not get in?”
Owens retired in 2010 after 15 NFL seasons. His 15,934 receiving yards rank second all-time among NFL receivers, while his 1,078 receptions rank sixth and his 153 touchdowns rank third.
Bruce played 14 seasons of his 16-year career in St. Louis, and logged a career total of 15,208 yards (fourth all-time) on 1,024 receptions (ninth) with 91 touchdowns (11th). Holt spent 10 of 11 NFL seasons with the Rams, posting 13,382 career yards (14th) on 920 receptions (19th) with 74 touchdowns (29th). Both players won the Super Bowl with the Rams during the 1999 season.
- Erin Flynn