Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers hail the courage of Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan

Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan, chatting with the Bucs’ Ronde Barber, lost both legs in Afghanistan but walks on prosthetics now.


Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan, chatting with the Bucs’ Ronde Barber, lost both legs in Afghanistan but walks on prosthetics now.


Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan has visited NFL teams before. He has met celebrities and had his inspirational story told to national television audiences.

But at Bucs practice Wednesday afternoon, Brennan experienced a first; he signed an autograph for a pro football player.

Brennan, a 25-year-old Riverview resident, lost both his legs and nearly died while serving in Afghanistan in May 2008, when a bomb exploded under a Humvee he was traveling in. He also suffered an acute brain injury, which put him in a coma for three weeks. Given little chance to live, Brennan recovered and now works at U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, where he helps the military learn from his experience.

On Wednesday, Veterans Day, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik introduced his special guest to the team at the end of practice, and players got to thank Brennan. Center Jeff Faine, who has had relatives serve in three wars, went even further. He pulled off his right knee brace, which has an American flag on it, and asked Brennan to sign it.

"I never thought I'd ever do anything like that," Brennan said. "It's a whole different world. It meant a great deal. That he really did appreciate it that much, and he really thinks about my story, to have me sign."

In conjunction with Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay — a nonprofit group that improves living conditions for people in need — the Bucs will help with the cost of renovating Brennan's home (about $12,000 market value) to make it more accessible and flexible to his needs, including enlarging the bathroom. Brennan has learned to walk on two prosthetic legs.

Dominik told the players after practice, "Here's a guy who knows a lot about the C-word, courage."

Brennan grew up in New Jersey and always thought about joining the military. The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, sealed the deal. He applied to just one school, the Citadel, which he attended before getting sent to Afghanistan in March 2008. Brennan joined the 101st Airborne, the division immortalized in the television miniseries Band of Brothers.

Brennan said he remembers everything leading up to the explosion but nothing from the three months that followed. Brennan had a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung and a shattered femur in his leg. Both legs had to be amputated. But Brennan said the fact that three others died that day "is the hardest thing I have to deal with."

He was in a coma at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and had to have several surgeries to avoid infection. He showed his first significant movement in June 2008, when Gen. David Petraeus, then the top U.S. commander in Iraq, visited and uttered the division's motto "Currahee," a Cherokee word meaning "we stand alone."

"It snapped me back into it," Brennan said. "I was always a big military guy. That was the main focus in my life, and it still is."

Brennan said he plans to teach ROTC at the Citadel and continue to serve as long as he can. "To me, I don't feel like I've given enough," he said. "I can always give more. I want to be a soldier the rest of my life."

The Bucs players appeared visibly moved by Brennan's visit, and all signed a ball for him. A Notre Dame fan, Brennan was thrilled when former Irish receiver Maurice Stovall gave him his jersey the day before on a visit to his home.

For Dominik, whose brother and father served in the Navy, the visit hit home.

"Today is a chance to think about all the freedoms we've been granted," Dominik said. "You don't understand the fact that less than 1 percent of our country actually volunteers for our country, yet 99 percent of us sometimes take for granted what they've done. Today is one of those days where we need to say, 'Thank you.' "

Tampa Bay Buccaneers hail the courage of Army 1st Lt. Brian Brennan 11/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play


    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans


    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.