There were no public tears Thursday. Derrick Brooks handled the news conference on his retirement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the grace and professionalism reflected in his play on the field and his involvement in the community. In an era that could use more role models inside and outside sports, he is an exceptional one who has represented Tampa Bay well.
Brooks' contributions on the field are told in numbers: 14 years with one team, the team record for tackles, a Super Bowl victory, a Pro Bowl selection 11 times. This is an NFL star who never made the news for the wrong reasons. His work ethic and his personal values only made him more popular.
The football statistics are for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brooks' impact on the Tampa Bay community is immeasurable. From the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa to his charity to his efforts helping teens graduate from high school and attend college, he is a positive influence on countless area families. As a member of the board of trustees at Florida State University, his alma mater, his impact reaches even further.
The news conference was a formality. Brooks was let go by the Bucs in February 2009 and did not play last season. But at 37 years old, he is not retiring from public life. He is plenty busy, and his contributions to the Tampa Bay community continue to inspire and set an example for others.