"I'm right behind him, just as we played," Brooks said in the Tampa Bay Times.
Brooks is the third Buccaneer to receive pro football’s highest honor, joining Sapp and Lee Roy Selmon (1995) in the hallowed hall.
Brooks never missed a game at linebacker during his stellar 14-year NFL career, all with the Bucs. His accolades and achievements are many. He earned All-Rookie honors; was elected to 11 Pro Bowls; he was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and was named All-Pro six times and All-NFC eight times. In addition, he was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He retired in 2008.
With Brooks anchoring a notoriously stingy defense, the Bucs led the NFL in total defense twice (2002 and 2005) and led the NFC five years (1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007).
“Nobody was more instinctive than Derrick Brooks,” Gruden said. “He almost knew the routes that were coming before they happened. You couple that with tremendous playing speed. The great players, they have a knack for making impact plays in tough situations. That’s what Brooks did.”
A determined and focused leader throughout his career, Brooks said he never enjoyed his playing career as much as he should have.
"Did I ever take the time during to enjoy my career? And I would simply say no because I was so into our franchise being turned around and being relevant," Brooks said. "Maybe now I get a chance to do it because I can't do anything else in terms of football. Now that I'm in the Hall, I may take time to do it. I probably have not taken the time to smell the roses of my career, and I'm going to do the best I can."
Brooks and his fellow Class of 2014 enshrinees –Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Bills receiver Andre Reed, Cardinals safety Aeneas Williams and two senior candidates, Raiders punter Ray Guy and Falcons defensive end Claude Humphrey—will be formally enshrined into the Hall of Fame tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
Always of interest are the names of the presenters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees on their special day. Brooks selected his son Decalon to represent all of his children.
“My first preference was having all of my kids say something but I had to pick just one,” Brooks said in in an NFL press release. “Since Decalon started playing football, I’ve always been directly involved with him, and now he gets a chance to be directly involved with me. I am anxious to see what he says representing his brothers and sisters.”
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Tags: Buccaneers, Derrick Brooks, Football, Jon Gruden, Lee Roy Selmon, NFL, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Times, Warren Sapp