Derrick Brooks enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame today as part of the very impressive Class of 2014. He'll get to don the golden jacket for the first time alongside Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams. He'll also join Warren Sapp and the later, great Lee Roy Selmon as part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Hall of Fame.*
Derrick Brooks entered the NFL as a first-round pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995, drafted in the same round and class as fellow Hall of Famer and teammate Warren Sapp. Together, those two players would define the Bucs' next decade of unprecedented success. They'd turn into the cornerstones of one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL.
Brooks became the ultimate weakside linebacker in the ultimate defensive scheme of the late 1990s and early 2000s: the Tampa 2. The Florida State product had the speed, insight and intelligence to produce down after down, as steady and ferocious a tackler as the Bucs had seen, but also one of the best players at producing game-changing plays. No season would define that more than the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl-winning year, when Brooks managed five total touchdowns, including the game-sealing touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders.
Bucs would eventually stay with the Bucs for fourteen seasons, forced to say goodbye in the Great Veteran Purge of 2009. It's only in that final year that his play dropped off, and he remained and remains the standard at his position. He's the player every weakside linebacker aspires to be, and the person none of them can be.
Brooks was more than just a great player to the Buccaneers, though. He was a locker-room leader and a force in the community. He was without fault on and off the field -- a consummate professional who represented his team and community perfectly.
Who's our favorite player? Mr. Derrick Brooks!
Elected to 11 Pro Bowls.
Five-time First-Team AP All-Pro, four-time Second-Team AP All-Pro
2002 Defensive Player of the Year
Selected to the 2000s All-Decade Team
2000 Walter Payton Man of the Year
2003 "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year
2003 Bart Starr Man of the Year
#55 retired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions, 7 touchdowns and 1,715 tackles.
Never missed a game in his fourteen-year career.
How to watch
When? Saturday, August 2nd, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where? Canton, Ohio
TV station? NFL Network
* Steve Young is another Buccaneer in the Hall of Fame, but we don't really count him as a Buc.