Derrick Brooks Enshrinement speech
Pro Football Hall of Fame Field
August 2, 2014
First of all, I give honor to God for having us here on this grandest of grandest stages. I stand here so humble to be amongst all of this greatness. And tonight I guess for the first time in my life I get a chance to sit back and enjoy some of the successes of my individual career in the ultimate team game.
We just unveiled that bust, it just realized to me that, man, this is what it's all about. There is no higher place to go in this game, and I thank you guys. I tell you now, I promise you, now that I'm a part of this team, it's going to be a better team because I'm going to work my butt off to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame better now that I am a part of.
Again, I want to thank Decalon for that wonderful introduction. You did a fabulous job. I'm so proud of you, son, and this day is just as big a part of you as it is me.
I'll take a moment now as I start my thank you letter to say thank you to Pensacola, Florida and everybody that came up here from Pensacola. We are definitely in the house. Thank you to all our Tampa Bay fans that traveled from Tampa. Thank you, guys.
Next, I'll move along and thank my beautiful wife, Carol. I can't say nothing new in front of all these people that I've said before, but three words, I love you. And my other three kids, my son Darius, Brianna, and Dania, thank you, guys. I love you, and I'm very proud to be your father.
I want to take this time to thank a few other members of my family that's been here. I can't say all your guys' name, but I want you guys to stand up and take your bow because without your support I would not be here today. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Derrick Brooks family. You guys stand up and take your bow. Thank you.
To my brothers, Anthony, John, Mitch, all my family from Cleveland, I love you guys. Uncle Robert, thank you. Again, this day is all about you guys. I love you too.
When you hear all these things that are being said about you, man, I tell you what, it's hard to be humble. You know your greatness here, your greatness there, you never missed a game. But I tell you what, I always will be a very humble man, and that's because of three people in my life that are no longer here today in person. But these three people meant the world to me starting off with my grandmother Martha Brooks. The patriarch in our family. This lady held it down on the east side of Pensacola, believe me.
Next, I'll start with my stepfather, AJ Mitchell. This man through a sixth grade education worked his butt off to provide for our family. He's a man of very few words, but when he spoke, he spoke loudly. I tell you, Dad, as you're looking down upon us, I thank you for whipping me in front of my fifth grade class to get my life together because I think about it. If you didn't love me enough to whip me, no telling where I was going to be.
Next, I can't thank this lady enough. Geraldine Brooks Mitchell. The lessons that this lady taught me. She's a very special athlete in her own right. She was pregnant with me her senior year in high school, and as she graduated high school, she wasn't able to go and pursue her career in college as a basketball player, but she supported me in no other way possible that words can explain. This lady was the number one tailgater. I tell you what, from Pee Wee League all the way to Tampa Bay, nobody partied harder than Geraldine Brooks Mitchell.
I allow her spirit to always stand upon me. She taught me this lesson. Never toot your own horne because you're making one sound. But if everybody else is talking about you, that sound is forever. You got me to do all the talking at the party, you just shut up and go do what you got to do. So, mom, I know you're not here, but thank you. And I know you and my dad are enjoying this time in heaven. I miss you both.
The lessons, as I said before, they always taught me to think about others. Guys, I want to take you through my football journey in Pensacola, Florida, with a few thank yous. It started on the field with the Baby Rattlers on the east side of 12th and Booby Street. And the Baby Rattlers, we were bad, especially when Emmitt left the Motor Grove team on the west side we really became bad. We got all our revenge, trust me. But as coaches there at the Baby Rattlers really taught me how to work hard. I want to take a moment to thank, first of all, David Sinkfield. This man is a very special man. Next Coach John Harris, Danny Williams, and TC Williams, thank you, guys. You guys set a foundation of hard work in me that I continued to build on. My next step in my football journey took me to Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida. Home of the Wildcats. I'd like to thank Jimmy Nichols who before becoming my head coach was Emmitt Smith's offensive coordinator. I want to thank you, Coach Nichols for pushing me to be the "Emmitt Smith of defense." Thank you, Coach Nichols.
Next, I saw him as I was walking in here. I want to thank Steve Williams. Steve tried to damper my high school baseball career, and I thank you Coach, for sitting me on the bench for every game even though you knew I was the best player (laughing). I appreciate you getting my mind focused on football and with my mother's support. So Coach Williams, I thank you for benching me in baseball even though you knew I was a really good player.
Coach David Wilson, there is so much, Coach, I could say. But you and your wife Tammy, it boils down to thank you. Thank you for your guidance, and more importantly, thank you for your lifelong friendship. You guys mean the world to me.
Two more people I'd like to thank from Pensacola, Washington were two principals. First being Sherman Robertson and Elvin McCorvey. These two young men as I like to call them, set a standard for me to get me to understand that I was in a position to be a role model, and I had to take that responsibility with a great deal of seriousness and all my decisions mattered. So I thank Mr. Robertson and Mr. McCorvey for talking to me about life beyond the grounds of Booker T. Washington High School in my decision making.
For the next leg of my journey I didn't have to go far, but I went to Florida State University. That's right. The 2013 national champions Florida State Seminoles. Man, when I think about this the other day, as far as the state of Florida, I'm the only player that's sitting here to play his entire career in the state of Florida, from Pee Wee, to college, to pro, to where I live now.
So that gives me a moment to thank all of Florida. Guys, Florida is a great place to live, it's just not a great place to visit. It's more than just the beaches of South Beach and Miami. It's about Pensacola, Florida, tonight.
To my FSU family, all my relationships there. I'd like to start off with thanking Billy Riordan, my team mom. Thank you for helping me transition into college. We all know you bleed garnet and gold, thank you very much. She used to say she was my mother's sister she didn't know about.
Next I'd like to thank my roommate, Devon Bush. My first room, holding it down in the 202. Thank you, man. We pushed each other to be the best, and I thank you for your friendship now.
Bobby Bowden, the best ever in my book, to coach college football. You not only taught us about the gridiron, but you taught us about keeping our priorities in order. Coach Bowden, I know you're watching. Thank you. You had the best halftime speeches I've ever heard whenever the defense and the team was leading, you'd come in and say defense, if they don't score, we win. And we go out and play. Thank you, Coach Bowden.
Next, a very special man. Not only of myself, but you heard about him a few years ago with Deion Sanders, Coach Mickey Andrews. Man, you talk about mental toughness. You talk about game through strain, pain is temporary, hard work is forever. Coach Andrews, I'd like to thank you for every gasser, every stadium, let's just say every motivational speech that wasn't a positive. I'd like to thank you for that mental toughness.
My linebacker coach my first two years, Wally Burrow, I'd like to thank you for instilling in me to believe in the triangle read. I teach it today to my son. Thank you, and trust my instincts.
Jim Gladden, you taught me about being consistent, and football is a bottom line business, either you make the play or you don't. Coach, I'd like to think I made the play throughout my career. And to laugh at yourself while doing it. Thank you, Coach Gladden.
For all my Florida State teammates, I know some of you guys are here with us, and together last night, you guys please take a stand and be honored by this crowd. All of you stand up. Henry, Rob, Sean, JD, T Buck, I love you guys, man. Class of '91.
So far I told you guys people that have been part of my career, but tonight I'm here because of what I did in the pros, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Believe me, all these guys I just told you about played a big role in my success of getting into the league. But now as I turn the page, I'd like to continue my thank you letter with people that influenced me and was a big part of why I'm here today.
First off, I'd like to recognize our first Hall of Famer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first ever draft pick, the late, great, Mr. Lee Roy Selmon. Leroy set a standard back in 1996 as the first draft pick and to be inducted into our rookie year in 1995. We're just trying to walk the path that he set for us today.
Next I'd like to recognize the organization's second Hall of Famer. My draft classmate of 1995, my roommate, my teammate, Mr. Personality like no other. I wouldn't trade you in for another brother, my man, Warren Sapp. Doom. People don't understand how we so opposite but yet we're still the same. We get along, and I simply tell them, it's not their business. It's God's. I love you, man, and I you know I wouldn't be standing here without you. Thank you Warren. It can be very, very intimidating when your head coach has two second year players, calls you in his office and tells you he expects you to be the Joe Greene and Jack Ham of this defense. It can be very intimidating. But Warren and I looked at each other and accepted that challenge. We asked how many Pro Bowls did they go to. Coach Dungy gave us a number, and we said let's go get it. And who knew we would be here today as Hall of Famers and their teammates, man. It's a beautiful journey.
Warren, we did have some great guys along the way. We didn't do it by ourselves. I want to take a moment to recognize some special teammates that are here today. I can't say everybody's name, but I'm going to call out a few that meant a lot. Starting out with Mike Alstott, A train. Mike, I appreciate the hard work, man, behind the scenes, lifting weights, running each other, challenging each other before dark, before everybody got in the building. I appreciate it, Mike, and I appreciate your friendship today.
Next, I'd like to thank the right foot of Martin Grammatica. Without Martin, there were a lot of games we won 9 3, 6 2, 12 9, and Martine kicked a 52 yard field goal. So Martin Grammatica, I know you're home watching, man, thank you for that right foot.
Next, I'd like to thank Brian Kelly. BK, we held it down, man. We had some hand signals that none of the coaches knew about, and they always asked us on Monday what we were doing, and we just said trust us. We made a lot of plays in that cover two, man, so thank you, BK for your friendship. Thank you for traveling here today.
Next I'd like to thank my man, Jeff Gooch. Jeff Gooch, I value your friendship, man more than anything. It's a privilege I get to work with you now in our current roles side by side. Thank you for your support.
Next I'd like to move on to Mr. Longevity, as I like to call him, Ronde Barber. Ronde, I thank you for a lot. We made a lot of plays together, and you just hung around just long enough to break most of my Buccaneer records, but that's all right. Hopefully in a few short years your consistency will be rewarded. So, Ronde, I want to thank you.
Another special teammate, the man with the most exotic, the most weirdest, but yet the most elegant vocabulary I've ever heard, Simeon Rice. Simeon, you're one of the best if not thee best pass rushers of my generation. I just want to thank you for choosing Tampa when you were a free agent to make our defense complete. Thank you, Simeon.
Next, I'd like to thank two of my linebackers that were in the room with me with Ricky. These two young men set the professional stage for me, and many of you guys probably competed against them, but Hardy Nickerson, and Lonnie Marts. Can't say enough about what you guys did in helping turn our franchise around and teaching us hard work in the persistence of winning. Still today, Hardy, as you can see, I'm still taking notes.
Speaking of the best, John Lynch. JL, I can't count the hours we put in perfecting this defense. From spacing, to keys, to knowing landmarks, fit drills, you name it. We did it. Trust me, man, as Warren and I, you'll be here next year delivering your own speech. Thank you, John.
Buccaneers, thank you to all of the support staff that was an instrumental part, particularly my faith. Doug Gilcrist, thank you. Harvey Brown, thank you for keeping me accountable in my walk. Now for all my Buccaneer teammates that traveled up from Tampa, it's your time to stand and get recognized, because I appreciate my relationship with you all. Please stand up and let me bow and salute you guys. Take a stand.
My thank yous continue now as I want to thank our owner, the late great Malcolm Glazer. Thank you, Mr. Glazer. Thank you for buying our team in 1995 and not moving us away from Florida. I want to thank particularly his wife Linda, Joe, Bryan, Ed, my appreciation and my gratefulness goes out to you guys, and I truly, truly cherish my relationship with your family. Thank you for providing the resources to help turn our franchise around, and again, we're going to stand back and continue to be relevant.
I want to next thank our two general managers that I played for, Bruce Allen, Rich McKay, thank you guys. I want to thank you for your leadership and the personnel department during our early years with the Bucs led by Jerry Angelo, and represented today by Mr. Tim Ruskell. Thank you, guys. I must say on behalf of my family, it was a pleasure doing business with you guys.
I certainly want to thank my head coaches. First, Sam Wyche, Tony Dungy, my mentor and my friend. Coach, I love you, man. So much of what we do today as grown men are lessons that you taught us. But it all boils down to these four years, no excuses, no explanations. Thank you, Coach Dungy.
Last I want to thank my last head coach, Jon Gruden. Coach, I know you're watching. Thank you, Coach. You were a guy that never slept. You motivated us. Man, you challenged us not only to be good, but be great, be a story, be global. I thank you for challenging me to be the best and be comfortable with being the greatest and letting everybody know. Thank you for trusting me with the leadership of this team. When we got there, we talked about world championships, but we didn't believe.
But Coach Gruden, you got us to believe that we could be world champions if we just scored touchdowns. And we scored the nine touchdowns that you wanted and this Super Bowl ring sitting here today represented it. Thank you, Coach Gruden.
My linebacker coaches, as I move along, I want to thank you guys. Starting with Maxie Baughan and current Coach Smith. Coach, I love you. You and your family mean the world to me. Joe Barry, Gus Bradley. All four of you guys had me becoming the player that's standing here today that's worthy of winning this gold jacket. You guys take a piece of this Hall of Fame with you. Rod Marinelli, Mike Tomlin, Rich Bissacia, my life coach, Herm Edwards. I thank you guys for influencing me.
And finally, Monte Kiffin, my defensive coordinator 13 of my 14 years. I want to thank you, Monte, for putting a lot of trust in me to run your defense. As I think about it, I was on the field for 99% of your snaps. I promise you I'm going to hit you up for that vacation real, real soon. Man, this game has taught me to believe in relationships and trust in everybody that I just talked about. My relationship with you guys is genuine. I want to thank you for allowing me to be part of it.
Now to talk about who I am, the man Derrick Brooks that stands before you as a servant leader. As I said before, as a servant leader I just want to do the best I can to make something better than it is when I come in touch with it. And I'm going to work to do that. So working to do that as a servant leader, I try to practice a few principles starting with patience. I try to be patient in my journey knowing that God has blessed the mission that I'm upon as a servant leader I want to exhibit kindness. I want to be kind and treat people how I want to be treated.
Thirdly, I want to be committed. I want you guys to know when the Bucs drafted me, I gave them my commitment and gave them my all. And part of that commitment as a servant leader stands before you today. Finally, as a servant leader, I want to go about it with a great deal of humility. Because I believe, as my mother taught me, it's never, never in a position to toot your own horn, because humility as I once learned is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Someone also taught me that most people will forget what you say. Some will forget what you do. But no one will ever forget how you made them feel. Guys that played with me, ladies and gentlemen, as I go into this Hall of Fame, I want you guys to know that I'm going to do my best to make the Hall of Fame better because God has blessed me to be a part of it. Thank you.