Bucs to put Brooks in Ring of Honor, retire No. 55
TAMPA -- Linebacker Derrick Brooks, the humble, quiet "soul" of the Bucs' Super Bowl champions, was proudly announced as the next inductee into the Bucs' Ring of Honor, also getting his No. 55 jersey retired during ceremonies on Sept. 14.
Brooks, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer, called the honors the "worst-kept secret," but something he would never take for granted, showing his humility again in thanking all the coaches and teammates who made his success possible, going back to his roots growing up in Pensacola.
"(I) thank you guys for giving me an opportunity to live out a dream," Brooks said to the Glazer family for drafting him in 1995 after a standout career at Florida State.
Brooks, 41, will follow the same path that defensive tackle Warren Sapp did a year ago -- first-ballot Hall of Famer, then the Ring of Honor and jersey retirement. His ceremonies will come during the Bucs' second game of the season, against the St. Louis Rams.
The Bucs' Bryan Glazer introduced Brooks as the leader of the franchise's Super Bowl champs, reminding that his ongoing work off the field with charities and the high school that bears his name is much more impressive than what he accomplished in a helmet and pads.
"Warren was the heart of our defense, and today's inductee .. was the soul that propelled us to our world championship in 2002," Glazer said. "On any given Sunday, Derrick was easily the best athlete on the field. ... He was a perfect fit for Tony Dungy's dominant defensive system."
Brooks will be the sixth member of he team's Ring of Honor, joining former coach John McKay and players Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber and Sapp. He will be just the third player to have his jersey number retired, joining Sapp's No. 99 and Selmon's No. 63.
"It's extremely special," Brooks said. "No one has worn it since I left, but to know it's a part of the franchise history is a tremendous honor. ... Every time something goes on in that stadium, they'll see that number and get a piece of you. That represents something. It's more about the legacy of 55."
Brooks' first head coach, Tony Dungy, was in attendance for Tuesday's announcement, as was his linebackers coach, current Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, along with several former teammates.
"Without you guys, I wouldn't be standing here," Brooks said. "I hope I did my best to really make you celebrate and be proud to call me your teammate. For those that actually looked at me as a leader, I hope I didn't disappoint you. I tried to do it the right way, show up day in and day out, and let my performance send a message."