Through hard work and perseverance, Bruce Reimers earned the distinction as one of Iowa State’s greatest offensive linemen. Overcoming injuries throughout the majority of his Cyclone career, Reimers emerged as one of the top linemen in the country as a senior, turning his success into an outstanding 10-year NFL career.
ISU head coach Earle Bruce recruited Reimers as a defensive tackle after an impressive prep career at Humboldt High School in Humboldt, Iowa, but Donnie Duncan took over coaching duties for Reimers’ freshman season (1979). The Cyclone was in on eight tackles as an interior defensive lineman in his initial campaign.
Reimers was injured early in his second season (1980) and eventually was granted a medical redshirt. Duncan began to see promise in Reimers’ large frame, as the 6-7, 275-pound giant started to put on muscle and weight, prompting a switch to the offensive line for his sophomore year (1981). He started all 11 games at guard that season, as the Cyclones peaked at No. 11 in the Associated Press polls. Reimers helped pave the way for All-American running back Dwayne Crutchfield, who ran for 1,189 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Off-season knee surgery forced Reimers to miss spring drills in 1982, but he was ready for action in the fall, starting all 11 games at left guard as a junior.
Reimers again had off-season knee surgery, his third at ISU, which forced him to miss spring practice prior to his senior season in 1983. The Cyclones had another new coach in Jim Criner, but offensive line coach Jim Williams, who had been coaching the men in the trenches since 1977, remained on staff. Reimers credited Williams for developing him as a top-notch lineman.
Reimers’ bad luck continued, however. He tore scar tissue in two-a-day practices and then stretched ligaments before the first game, forcing him to miss the first four outings. The Cyclone offense floundered in his absence, gaining just 174 yards on the ground through four games. When he returned at the start of Big Eight play, the Cyclones became a high-octane offense. ISU averaged 276.1 yards of offense without Reimers, but improved to 379.3 ypg of total offense with him in the lineup.
By season’s end, Reimers’ presence on the line helped All-Big Eight quarterback and future ISU Hall of Famer David Archer break virtually all of ISU’s single-season passing records. Despite missing four games, Reimers still was named First-Team All-Big Eight. He was invited to play in the 1983 Senior Bowl and was given the Arthur Floyd Scott Award as the team’s best offensive lineman.
Reimers always dreamed of playing professional football, but was fully aware his chances were slim after racking up a slew of injuries at ISU. The Cincinnati Bengals were impressed enough to draft him in the eighth round of the 1984 NFL Draft, giving him a glimmer of hope.
Reimers fought the odds and made the Bengal roster, playing in 15 games as a rookie. Two years later (1986) he received some starts, and by 1988, he was anchoring the line on one of the best teams in the AFC. In 1989, Reimers started all 15 games he appeared in at left guard as the Bengals, behind quarterback Boomer Esiason and running back Ickey Woods, made the Super Bowl. Reimers was the starting left guard for Cincinnati in its Super Bowl appearance, falling in the closing moments to San Francisco in one of the most memorable Super Bowls in history.
He played two more years in Cincinnati before being traded to Tampa Bay in 1992, where he started all 16 games. He ended his NFL career after one more season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993. In all, Reimers played in 10 NFL seasons, recording 90 starts on the offensive line.
Reimers moved back to Humboldt, where he owns and operates a farm and is an assistant football coach for Humboldt High School. He was inducted into the Iowa High School Football Hall of Fame.