Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronde Barber recalls a Derrick Brooks near miss

CANTON, Ohio — You'll hear much this weekend about the fact that Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks never missed a game in his 14-year NFL career. Teammate Ronde Barber (left) saw that toughness throughout Brooks' career, and said the closest Brooks came to sitting out was self-inflicted from, of all things, dry ice. He remembers a plane ride — the records suggest it was 2008, after a game at Atlanta in the last month of Brooks' final season — and Brooks had a rib injury. The ice applied after the game had melted, and Brooks sought relief from the dry ice used to keep cold the ice cream served to players on the flight. "He took one of those dry-ice packets and put it up on his ribs and he fell asleep," Barber said. "Half an hour later, it was stuck to him, like freezer burn on his skin. I was sitting next to him, and he had this massive skin patch off, and he almost missed the game because of the dry-ice burn. Of course, he didn't."

The presenter

Brooks' oldest son, 15-year-old Decalon, will be the presenter during tonight's enshrinement. Following a group picture of the returning Hall of Famers and the Class of 2014 Friday, Decalon said he was surprised, but honored. "At first I was like, man, I can't do that,'' said Decalon, whose presentation will be shown via video, though he will join his father on stage for the unveiling of his Hall of Fame bust. "That's too nervous for me. It's a great honor to present him and going up there to unveil the bust with him. It's going to be great experience with all the Hall of Famers coming back.''

The mastermind

Former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan only played against Brooks four times, but as they enter the Hall together, he said: "Watching him with the Bucs and being on the other sideline is like, 'There's freaking Derrick Brooks,' and nobody gets anything past Derrick Brooks. We had some tough games. … We're out there banging on Mike Alstott and they're banging down on Tiki Barber. It was just such tough, defensive battles, and he was the leader of all that. He was the mastermind. He made sure (Warren) Sapp and (John) Lynch and everybody's where they needed to be. He was the ultimate field general."

Face to face

Brooks and Warren Sapp, who were drafted by the Bucs in 1995, earned defensive player of the year honors and won Super Bowl XXXVII, are teammates again. "He was the last in of his class at (No.) 280 and I'm the first in of my class at 281," Brooks said. "So everything we've done thus far we've been able to accomplish as teammates and to say that we are in the highest honor you can in terms of football, we are still teammates. Not a lot of guys can say that who came in the same draft class."

Madden an early fan

John Madden, 78, a Hall of Fame coach who won a Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1976, got to know Brooks as part of the Monday Night Football broadcast crew. "When you studied the Tampa 2 as an analyst, different teams did it different ways, but Tampa Bay did it better than anyone else,'' he 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."

All-everything

Tom Jackson, known to this generation as part of ESPN's NFL team, spent 14 years as a linebacker with the Broncos. He came to know Brooks during his brief time as an NFL analyst there and said what made him special was his ability to excel at everything a linebacker is asked to do. "It's not often that you find a linebacker who can do everything," said Jackson, 63, who was a rookie in 1973, the year Brooks was born. "It's even rare that you find a linebacker who does everything really, really well. That's what separates Derrick from everybody else. He's great at all of it. Great coverage guy, great tackler, great hands, great in space. Biggest in the biggest games."

FSU makes it a double

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 together. The other pair? The University of San Francisco's Gino Marchetti and Ollie Matson in 1972.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

 
Comments
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Updated: 10 hours ago
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Published: 05/23/18
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Published: 05/23/18
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Published: 05/23/18
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Published: 05/22/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Published: 05/22/18
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Published: 05/22/18
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Published: 05/22/18