It was officially announced today that 2014 Hall Of Fame inductee Derrick Brooks will be honored by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 14 when the Bucs host the St. Louis Rams. Brooks will become the sixth member of the Buccaneers’ Ring Of Honor and become only the third player to have his number retired, joining fellow Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon and Warren Sapp.
In typical Derrick Brooks fashion, he credited his teammates for the honor that was being bestowed upon him. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Brooks always understood the importance of sharing it. He is the franchise leader in tackles with 2,198, selected to 11 straight Pro Bowls, a winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, the same year he hoisted the lone Lombardi trophy in Buccaneer history.
He credited coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith with instilling in him and his teammates the value of learning, a skill that was instrumental in the turnaround of the franchise. He credited Hardy Nickerson with being the veteran leader in the linebackers’ room that showed him how to be a professional and how to improve. He credited his college coaches for leading him in the right direction. As modest and humbled as anyone could ever be, but that’s how Derrick Brooks is.
He was the leader that showed you the way, not told you. “I’m gonna be the one to grab a shovel and start digging,” he said. “I’m not gonna ask you to do it. I’m gonna start and hopefully you will follow my lead.” He not only lead on the field, but in the community, as well. He started “Brooks’ Bunch”, a youth scholarship foundation and charity. He is also co-founder of the Brooks-Debartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa, a college preparatory school for grades 9-12. As much of a leader as Brooks was on the field, his impact off the field has been even greater.
When asked about his number retirement, Brooks said “To have my number retired is extremely special. It’ll probably hit me on September 14th against St. Louis. No one has worn it since I left, but to know no one will wear it again is very special.” And with as selective as the Buccaneers have been about number retirement, it truly is a special honor for the greatest player in Buccaneers history.
A Hall of Famer, a legend in Tampa Bay, one of the greatest players and people to ever put on an NFL helmet. Derrick Brooks epitomizes everything a team looks for in their marquee star. Derrick Brooks will be the face of the Buccaneers for years to come. And in the words of the NFL fans’ favorite United Way commercial, “Who’s our favorite player?” You, Mr. Brooks.