John Madden: Brooks was key to Tampa 2 defense
CANTON, Ohio -- When 60-plus Hall of Famers gathered in front of the Hall of Fame for their annual reunion photo, Derrick Brooks sat in the front row with this year's class, all wearing the same blue polo shirts.
In the back row was John Madden, 78, who got to know Brooks as part of the Monday Night Football broadcast crew, but appreciated his greatness as a Hall of Fame coach who won a Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1976.
"When you studied the Tampa 2 as an analyst, different teams did it different ways, but Tampa Bay did it better than anyone else," Madden said. "When you studied it, you saw they had the Mike, the middle linebacker, real deep. As a coach, you think 'How do they take care of the area that guy just left?' The answer was Derrick Brooks."
Madden said other defenses have tried to use the Tampa 2 scheme, and the reason they haven't found as much success is the absence of a linebacker that can fill that versatile role that Brooks held.
"Derrick Brooks took care of everything. He was the eraser on that defense," he said. "Other people tried to copy the defense, but they didn't have the Derrick Brooks piece. He was just a great player, so smart. That whole Tampa 2, they say it was this guy or that thing. To me, it was Derrick Brooks."