HOF Profile: Derrick Brooks

derrick_brooksThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a storied history and but it has been storied for all of the wrong reasons. The start of the franchise came during the 1976 expansion as they came in at the same time as the Seattle Seahawks. The Bucs made an immediate impact when they chose their uniforms with a bright orange, some would say creamsicle, colour jersey. The new bright colours did not help them to get any wins as their first year ended with the worst record in NFL history, a failure that lasted until 2008, going 0-14. The Bucs improved slightly through their first years but they quickly became the loveable losers of the NFL. They got to the playoffs for the first time in 1979 when they started a brief time near the top of the league. The accomplishments did not last though as they made the playoffs in 1982 in the wild card but did not see the playoffs for another 14 seasons and did not even see a winning season in those 14 years. The Bucs first section of their history was not a good one as limited playoff appearances were the only highlights through most of the start of their franchise. They remained a team that just couldn’t find the winning touch for years and they continued to look for ways to turn the team around but could not find it. That was until 1995 when the Bucs went on a completely new path that changed the course of the franchise. That year the Bucs saw two first round picks in 1995 and they made the decisions that changes the team. First they drafted Defensive Tackle Warren Sapp from Miami. Sapp gave the Bucs a solid anchor on the defensive line for years to come. With the 28th pick in the draft the Buccaneers only added to that anchor on the line. They drafted linebacker Derrick Brooks from Florida State with their second draft pick and immediately changed the attitude and face of the franchise. Together Sapp and Brooks gave the Bucs an edge to their team and made them a defensive first team. The effects were seen immediately making the playoffs in 1997 and eventually winning the Super Bowl in 2002. The addition of both of these players changed everything in Tampa and Brooks will join his partner in crime for his efforts and will earn a bust in Canton.

Brooks was an almost can’t miss prospect coming out of the NCAA especially when he became a linebacker in his second year. After playing safety in his freshman year Brooks moved closer to the line becoming a linebacker, a move that would pay off for Brooks and the Seminoles. He made the All-ACC team three times, a First Team All-American 2 times, and helped the ‘Noles to the 19993 National Championship. He entered the draft likely hoping that he did not end up in Tampa where the tradition of losing did not suit him. That is where he went with the 28th pick and from then he had his work cut out for him to be one of the guys to turn the franchise around. With Sapp in front of him the Bucs immediately had a devastating defence with an extremely rough attitude. Sapp and Brooks led the way in helping the team build a massive chip on their shoulder and from then on the Bucs became a feared team rather than the joke of the NFL. Brooks led on the field as well where he did not miss a game the entire time he played and became one of the most consistent linebackers in the NFL. His tenacious attitude on the field and ability to see plays helped him become a player nobody wanted to run towards. His hall of fame campaign was solidified at Super Bowl XXXVII when he had a key interceptions that solidified the Buccaneers win that officially capped off the turnaround. Brooks was a key part of a defence that many considered to be one of the best all-time and along with Sapp terrified offences throughout his career. Now he will take his rightful place beside his counterpart on the line and the only person happier than Brooks may just be that partner who went into the hall of fame in 2013.


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