Derrick Brooks is my favorite Buccaneer. Always has been.

Like many of you, I grew up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs were born in 1976. I came around one year later in ’77. The first game I ever went to was in 1984, the late great Lee Roy Selmon’s last year. That was my first chance at seeing a living legend on the gridiron. Over a decade later, I finally got to see another.

When I first saw Derrick Brooks play for the Bucs in 1995, I knew we had someone special. Under Hardy Nickerson’s tutelage, DB would become one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. He just seemed faster than everybody else. What I remember most about that Buccaneers’ defense was that there seemed to be 11 guys that made every tackle and Brooks was always the first to get there.

Derrick Brooks was the best tackler I had ever seen. Not the best hitter, the best tackler. Always textbook. Always precise. Always got the job done. While some linebackers were known for blasting guys, Brooks would just put his shoulder into your waist, wrap up and take you to the ground. It wasn’t always flashy, but it always worked.

Derrick Brooks wasn’t just a great football player. He taught other players to be great. That’s what separates the men from the boys in sports. He taught guys how to be football players on the field and on the street. He along with Warren Sapp, John Lynch and others were responsible for changing the culture of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They refused to accept their history and later they make their own.

Is Derrick Brooks the greatest Tampa Bay Buccaneer of all time? Yes.

While many regard Selmon as the greatest, I’ll go with Brooks for this reason. Selmon will always be the first Buc to get into the Hall of Fame, but it took him 6 years. Brooks, along with Sapp, got in on their first try. So then who’s a better Buc? Brooks or Sapp? Warren Sapp redefined how defensive tackle is played in the NFL and I could see how one could argue for him, but Brooks played his entire career here and I think there is something to be said for that.

There aren’t many Cal Ripken’s or Derek Jeter’s left in sports. Derrick Brooks is one of those guys. He’s one of our guys. And now he is in the Hall Of Fame.

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