TAMPA — Linebacker Derrick Brooks, the humble, quiet "soul" of the Bucs' Super Bowl champions, is the next inductee into the team's 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. He showed his humility again Tuesday 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," he said to the Glazer family, who made him their first draft pick in 1995 after his standout career at Florida State.
Brooks 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 second game of the season, against the Rams.
Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer introduced Brooks as the leader of the franchise's Super Bowl champs while emphasizing 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.
Brooks, 41, will be the sixth member of the Ring of Honor that includes former coach John McKay and players Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles and Paul Gruber. He will be the third player to have his jersey number retired, joining Sapp's No. 99 and Selmon's No. 63.
"It's extremely special," said Brooks, who retired after the 2008 season. "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."
His first coach, Tony Dungy, attended Tuesday's announcement, as did 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."