Man, what to say about Derrick Brooks? There is almost too much to attempt to fit on one page, but here goes nothing. Brooks is the Buccaneers’ best player of all-time, narrowly edging out Lee Roy Selmon, who was just mentioned. The most accomplished player ever doesn’t always translate to being the best player, but in Brook’s case, it does.
Drafted late in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft, the Florida State University product got to stay close to home. Brooks spent his entire 14-season NFL career with the Buccaneers, setting numerous franchise records in the process. Brooks holds franchise records in tackles with more than 1,200 total tackles (estimated since tackles is a recent statistic) and forced fumbles with 24.
In Tampa Bay history, Brooks has the second most games played and games started with 224 and 221 respectively. He only trails cornerback Ronde Barber in both categories. He also holds a league record at outside linebacker with 208 consecutive starts. Obviously, staying healthy and on the field was a hallmark of Brooks’ career and a big reason behind his success, and the success of the team as a whole.
Brooks was a member and huge factor in the 2002 season, earning All-Pro honors and winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, en route to winning the Super Bowl. In his 14 seasons, Brooks was named to the Pro Bowl a remarkable 11 times, and was named to an All-Pro team (First or Second-Team) an astonishing nine times.
However, the most meaningful award Brooks received came in 2000, when he was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. An incredible player on the field, Brooks is an even better person off of it. Fittingly, his retired No. 55 jersey is proudly displayed at Raymond James Stadium. There will never be another Derrick Brooks, and it is only fair that he is the greatest player of all-time in Buccaneers football history.