Better late than never.
After unceremoniously parting with their Future first-ballot Hall of Famer, one of the cogs that brought a championship and relevance to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 18 months earlier, the Buccaneers finally stepped up yesterday and gave the retiring Derrick Brooks the warm and celebrated send-off the man has so warmly deserved.
I was listening on 620 AM, not knowing exactly what to expect. Have there been any deep wounds created over the last year and a half? Would the Buccaneers give a mia culpa for the messy manner in which he was jettisoned like garbage with the rest of the mass exodus of the 2009 veterans? Hell, would things be awkward? It was immediately apparent that they wouldn't be.
After the local media spun some yarns of great Derrick Brooks moments, Gene Deckerhoff stepped to the mic and got things started with a brief but heartwarming introduction for the player he's called and followed for the better parts of two decades....which immediately set an amicable tone. After watching (for me, hearing) a short video highlight clip, Bryan Glazer stepped up to speak. He talked about Derrick's 11 Pro Bowls, Derrick's loyalty and the rarity for one player in today's game to stick with one team, the impact he's made and the icon he's become in the Tampa Bay community, and Derrick's ironclad place in the Buccaneer Ring of Honor.
Derrick then stepped up to the mic and talked not about his greatness and accomplishments, but about playing in the creamsicles and taking pride in helping turn around the franchise. He thanked his players. He thanked his coaches. He answered questions and gave a little bit of insight into the mind of one of the greatest of all-time. Most importantly, he said he wanted to make his kids and wife proud to say he is their father and husband.
All in all, it was a feel-good day for one of the greatest to ever play the game and the Buccaneer organzation. At a time when a young Buccaneer team is looking towards a brighter future, it's nice to see the Buccaneers still remember a huge part of their past.