Bucs to induct Derrick Brooks into Ring of Honor
MAY 06, 2014 5:51p ET
The team formally announced Tuesday that the nine-time All-Pro linebacker who led the Bucs to their only Super Bowl title 11 seasons ago will also have his No. 55 jersey retired during a ceremony at halftime of a home game against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 14.
Brooks was the 28th player selected in the 1995 NFL draft and teamed with Tampa Bay's other first-round pick that year - Hall of Famer Warren Sapp - to form the foundation of a dominant defense that helped transform a struggling franchise once jokingly called the ''Yucs'' into a perennial playoff contender.
''If Warren was the heart of our defense, then today's inductee, Derrick Brooks, was the soul that propelled us to our world championship in 2002,'' Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said.
''On any given Sunday, Derrick easily was the best athlete on the field,'' Glazer added. ''There was no tight end he could not cover, no quarterback he could not chase down for a sack and no running back he could not tackle in the open field.''
Brooks, who'll enter the pro football Hall of Fame in August, joins Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber and Sapp in having his name displayed in the Ring of Honor, which was created in 2009 at Raymond James Stadium.
Selmon, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995, and Sapp, enshrined in Canton a year ago, are the only other players to have their jerseys retired by the Buccaneers.
The 11-time Pro Bowl selection recalled Tuesday how when Tony Dungy arrived in Tampa in 1996 - Brooks' second pro season - the former Bucs coach challenged him and Sapp to become the best players they could be by striving to do for Tampa Bay what eventual Hall of Famers Joe Greene and Jack Ham did for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.
''We took it to heart,'' Brooks said, adding that someone had suggested to him that the Bucs' decision to induct him into the Ring of Honor was one of ''worst-kept'' secrets in town because it comes the same year he joined Sapp as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
''I don't look at it that way. As I told Mr. Glazer, you don't take anything for granted. You don't make any assumptions,'' Brooks said. ''Today is a very important day in my life. To have my number retired is extremely special, too.''
Brooks didn't miss a game in 14 pro seasons, ending his career with a stretch of 208 consecutive regular-season starts, tied for the 10th-longest streak in NFL history, His 10 consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 1997 to 2007 tied for the second-longest by a linebacker in league history.