Ex-FSU teammate Jones saw greatness early in Brooks
Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks and Seahawks tackle Walter Jones, whose playing careers at Florida State overlapped 20 years ago, are just the second pair of college teammates to be first-ballot inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame together.
The only other pair? The University of San Francisco's Gino Marchetti and Ollie Matson in 1972. And while Jones and Brooks played their NFL careers at opposite corners of the country, meeting only five times, Jones has fond memories of his old teammate.
"He's been great for a long time," Jones said. "When I was coming out of high school, you had Charlie Ward making plays, but if you really go back and look at that team, Derrick Brooks was the face of the team. He was doing the same thing he did in the pros -- owned the defense, made sure everybody was in the right position and made plays when he had to make plays."
Jones said what he liked about Brooks, both in college and throughout his NFL career, was a constant awareness of the game, an ability to not only recognize the right place to be but the ability to execute once in the right position.
"You saw from college that he understood what was happening at all times," Jones said. "He watched everything and was a true student of the game."
The Bucs and Seahawks came into the NFL as sister franchises in 1976, and both now have three players in the Hall of Fame -- the Bucs have Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Brooks, while Seattle has receiver Steve Largent, defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy and Jones.