Derrick Brooks Tampa Bay Buccaneers
"Character, teamwork, hard work, perseverance, greatness, success, failures, motivation, humility. Those are things that this game has really taught me.”
Linebacker Derrick Brooks
, a four-year letterman and three-time All-American choice at Florida State, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 28th overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft. He was tabbed by the team to shore up a porous defense which had struggled for nearly 15 years. Brooks never missed a game during his 14-season career in which he established himself as the cornerstone for what was considered one of the NFL’s best defenses for a decade.
Brooks earned a starting position in training camp of his rookie year and started all but three games that season. The three non-starts came when the Bucs opened with extra defensive backs against run-and-shoot teams. He never missed a start for the remainder of his 224-game NFL career. Brooks earned All-Rookie honors after he finished second on the team with 80 tackles.
In 1997, Brooks led the Buccaneers to their first postseason appearance since 1981. He topped the team with 182 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 10 passes defensed to earn the first of his 11 Pro Bowl selections.
With Brooks entrenched as the defensive anchor, the Bucs led the NFL in total defense twice (2002 and 2005) and topped the NFC five times (1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007) during the linebacker’s career.
Brooks was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 when he again led Tampa Bay with 173 tackles, registered a career-high five interceptions (three of which were returned for TDs), 15 passes defensed, one fumble recovery, and one sack. He was a major contributor in the Bucs’ victory in Super Bowl XXXVII where he had three tackles, one pass defensed, and one interception returned 44 yards for a TD against the Oakland Raiders.
Brooks was a six-time All-Pro choice, named All-NFC eight times, and selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.