TAMPA - Linebacker Derrick Brooks, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, is scheduled to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field on Wednesday during a game between the Cubs and Brewers.
That's right, sing!
"I've wanted to do that since I was a little boy watching Harry Caray," Brooks said. "I think most of the guys are going to be watching WGN (the cable channel scheduled to air the game at 2 p.m.) more than anything."
Not known for his crooning skills in the locker room, Brooks said he has not taken singing lessons and is more concerned with the words.
"I'm going to prepare before I go there. I just don't want to stumble," Brooks said. "It doesn't matter to me how I sound or if I get drowned out. I just don't want to forget the words. This is probably the only (public) singing I would ever do."
Brooks will be in Chicago with 29 children from the Tampa Boys and Girls Clubs as part of an 11-day tour of major cities and universities. The Brooks Bunch tour, which leaves Tampa today, also is scheduled to visit the Julliard School of Arts in New York, Loyola University in Chicago, Spellman and Morehouse colleges in Atlanta and Florida State and Florida A&M in Tallahassee.
STARTING OVER: Starting this week, Bucs coach Jon Gruden, his coaching staff and players are on vacation until July 18, when they are due to report to Lake Buena Vista for training camp. Gruden said his team might use the time to revel in its Super Bowl victory but must accept that once back, the 48-21 victory against the Raiders is history.
"You are only as good as your last victory, and fortunately, we have been able to enjoy Super Bowl XXXVII for a long time," Gruden said. "But now we don't have any wins. None. Zero. So we have to start from ground zero."
COMPETITION RULES: With two extra weeks of training camp and an extra preseason game, the Aug.2 American Bowl against the Jets in Japan, the Bucs need all 90 or so players on the roster. Having too many players, Gruden said, is never a problem when the goal is to make everyone earn a roster spot.
"What we want is as competitive a roster as we can," he said. "We think we have done that through the draft. The acquisition of Chris Simms and Jim Miller makes the quarterback position very exciting. We added three linemen in the draft, and we have gone out and brought in Thomas Jones and Terry Kirby to bolster the backfield. Some of our depth concerns we had last year, we think we have addressed."
PUT IT IN A BOTTLE: He has had few moments worthy of the highlight reel in his first three years in the league, but Jones, acquired from the Cardinals for receiver Marquise Walker, can hang his hat on one performance.
Herushed for 174 yards on 24 carries in Arizona's 24-13 victory at Seattle in Week 2 last season.
"I actually had room to run," Jones said. "I could get in the open field and utilize my vision and utilize my ability to make guys miss in the open field. That's what I haven't really had much of in Arizona, is the opportunity to get in the open field and do my thing."
BUCS BITS: Former Gator and Bucs receiver Reidel Anthony has returned to Tampa after a stint with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League did not work out. ... Among those on hand to collect Super Bowl rings at last weekend's private party were safety Dexter Jackson (Arizona), linebacker Al Singleton (Dallas) and left tackle Lomas Brown (free agent), who have left the team.