Tampa Bay Area’s Favorite Adopted SonGene Clemons, FBGP Analyst _______________________________________
Derrick Brooks may have been a Pensacola Florida product when he decided to attend Florida State University, but when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him in 1995, he became the Tampa Bay Area’s favorite adopted son.
From the moment he put on the number 55 anybody who watched him knew there was something more to him than just his spectacular play. He was quiet and humble off the field and carried himself with a sense of nobility. On the field he was explosive. All of the discussions about his size quickly disappeared as he made play after play. With Brooks as its leader, the Buccaneers’ would eventually boast one of the best defenses of all time.
Tonight Brooks will officially be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in doing so, the quiet, reserved “team first” linebacker will do something that before this weekend he has rarely seen the value in doing, talk about himself. “I have to pay respect to the honor of Derrick Brooks Hall of Famer,” Brooks responded when asked if it was difficult to talk about himself, “Even though it’s not my character.”
Brooks is not approaching tonight as the culmination of his life but merely a launching point for his next adventures. “My journey as a human being and my time here I don’t want to waste it,” Brooks noted about his new designation as a hall of famer, “I’m trying to use this most valuable resource to get the maximum amount of productivity.”
A successful transition from the field has always been predicated on a player’s ability to refocus their competitive spirit and Brooks has been successful in that endeavor. He has been involved in several charities including his own Derrick Brooks Charities, he’s volunteered his time to help whomever he could, he is currently the president of the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football Team, and in 2005 in congress with the DeBartolo Family Foundation he opened his very own charter school, Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School.
Over the past nine year BDCHS has become one of the educational bright lights in the Tampa Bay area and is a blueprint on how to run a charter school. While other charter schools run by former athletes have been met with scrutiny and scandal, BDCHS has avoided such pitfalls. Brooks gives his thoughts, “We work our butts off! We make no excuses; make no explanations, we work! We are all about those kids, day in and day out.”
Now that he is a member, Brooks has a new mission. He is dedicated to making the Hall of Fame the best it could ever be. Not a small task but a task that he is definitely ready to undertake. You can add it to his already full plate; like everything else in his life, whether it is fatherhood, career, or charity work he will rise to the top. The cream always though.