CLAIM TO FAME: The former Florida State standout has forged arguably the most decorated career in Tampa Bay sports history. The seven time Pro Bowl selectee and the NFL's 2002 Defensive Player of the Year has started 128 consecutive games for the Bucs, most among active players. But while Brooks was an instrumental leader of a defense that led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title at the end of the 2002 season, it is his accomplishments off the field that distinguish him. Shortly after joining the Bucs he formed the Brooks Bunch, a group of 20-plus youngsters from the Ybor City and Belmont Heights Boys and Girls clubs, and the group has evolved into far more than free tickets to home games. With a goal of inspiring children to educate their minds and pursue their dreams, Brooks has taken his group on field trips to South Africa, the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C. In the previous offseason he took the group on a tour of college campuses in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Tallahassee. Married to Carol and the father of three, Brooks also is owner of Freedom Financial Mortgage, has done charitable work with the March of Dimes and D.A.R.E. and last offseason developed Derrick Brooks Charities. He is a member of the FSU Board of Trustees and of the NFL's diversity committee. The winner of many awards, Brooks was the co-recipient of the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2000 and last month won the 2003 Bart Starr Award.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "He's definitely made a heck of an impression on me and made me want to get involved in the community the way he's tried to reach out to kids. He knows what kind of influence he has, and he has made the most of that opportunity. He has the platform and he takes advantage of that. The thing that gives him the desire is his heart and passion, and those won't ever come to an end." - Bucs linebacker Shelton Quarles.
DID YOU KNOW: On the day of his first Pop Warner football sign-up, Brooks was so intimidated he asked his dad to take him home. "I think when you're facing something for the first time, you're unsure. In some instances fear can be a good thing. In this instance it was a bad thing. I was intimidated," Brooks said. "That encompasses who I am in the Brooks Bunch. I want to prepare these kids for the unknown." Brooks played baseball that year and returned to Pop Warner the next season.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW: With three years left on his deal, Brooks remains a key part of the Bucs' hopes to return to the top. He enters his 10th season as the clear starter linebacker, and though he is getting up in years there is no eminent sign his career is near the end.
WORDS TO LIVE BY: "That's simple. "Put God first in all you do. And treat others the way you want them to treat you.' It's the mission statement for my foundation. Everything you do in life, you can bring it up under that umbrella."