TAMPA — Nearly 20 months after he played his last NFL game, linebacker Derrick Brooks announced his retirement on his website Wednesday.
The 11-time Pro Bowl player, who spent his career in Tampa Bay, never ruled out playing for another team last season after the Bucs released him Feb. 25, 2009, as part of a five-player purge of veterans by general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris.
"This is my official retirement announcement," Brooks said on derrickbrooks.tv, his online video website.
The Bucs will hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at One Buc Place.
Brooks, 37, played 14 seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, including 10 in a row. He was named the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2002, the season that culminated in the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII victory over the Raiders. He ranks as the team's all-time tackles leader with 2,196.
But Brooks was blindsided by his release as part of a purge that included running back Warrick Dunn. Morris and Dominik took a lot of backlash for their decision to release arguably the franchise's most popular player.
"It wasn't a factor that you had any hurt feelings or that he felt disgraced," Morris said. "It was more about losing a family member and having somebody walk away from something he loved and something he could do, and I had to the be the person to tell him he couldn't do it for us anymore."
Brooks strongly considered continuing his career last season and worked out for the Saints, an NFC South rival who went onto win the Super Bowl. He also talked with the Bears.
In the end, he started working as an NFL expert for ESPN2's First Take and as a commentator on Sirius NFL Radio.
"I am absolutely ecstatic that Derrick Brooks never played in another uniform," Morris said. "Not to take away from what he wanted to do or maybe wanted to continue to play … I still don't like seeing John Lynch in a Broncos uniform, or (Warren) Sapp in a Raiders uniform. To not go watch (No.) 55 play for anybody else but Pros vs. Joes, it's a phenomenal thing."
Bucs players reacted to the news with the respect he always commanded in the locker room.
"He was kind of the face of Tampa Bay, I think," linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "You've got Lee Roy Selmon and Derrick Brooks, they're probably the two biggest guys when you think of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You couldn't have a better career as a linebacker than what he had. It's probably a countdown to when he gets the call to go to Canton (to the Hall of Fame), obviously."
Brooks used his two-minute website speech to thank the Bucs' fans, coaches and players, his family and the Glazer family, which bought the franchise in 1995, the year Brooks was drafted in the first round from Florida State.
"I want to thank all the coaches, starting with the head coaches: Sam Wyche, Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy," Brooks said. "You guys meant a lot to me. Your leadership affects me and what I do on a daily basis, and that's competing to be the best.
"I'd personally like to thank Warren Sapp. You mean a lot, my friend. Words can't explain the gratitude, how fun it was to play behind you. John Lynch, knowing you had my back in that secondary. Ronde Barber, my Cover Two buddy. You redefined the defense by playing in space. Simeon Rice, one of the best at going and getting the quarterback, I love you to death, not for just what you do on the field, but how you challenge me mentally to be the best, and your thought process. It was fun.
"Again, the Glazers, we came here together in 1995. I thank you for investing in this football team and turning it into a winner. I wish you tremendous success moving forward. And last, but not least, I thank my family."