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By all appearances, Brooks a busy man

[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Derrick Brooks spends some time with Bucs community relations/media coordinator Jenny Townley to go over his schedule.

By DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001


TAMPA -- It's 10:42 Friday morning and Derrick Brooks has been waiting in this hotel lobby for 20 minutes when he's told to cool his heels for another hour. He takes the news graciously, but he is not pleased.

"Man, I could have slept some more," he says, a little uncomfortable in a gray suit and tie, even though it's custom-made and looks as expensive as it probably is.

It isn't helping his patience that his mobile phone is ringing off the hook. He had four voicemail messages on it when he turned it on this morning. And he has had six calls so far.

One is from a buddy asking about playing golf. Two are from family members. Another is from someone asking for Super Bowl tickets.

Derrick just laughs at that one.

It's not long before his phone rings again (he keeps the ringer on vibrate to keep from disturbing anyone). This one is important. It's his mother in Pensacola and she's calling because she needs something.

New tires.

Derrick tells her he'll take care it, then calls the tire store in Pensacola and arranges everything, including paying the bill with a credit card number the store has on file.

"That's my mom, man," he says. "You've got to take care of your mom."

Derrick is having plenty of fun this Super Bowl week, but Friday he is having to handle all sorts of business, from personal appearances to news conferences to meetings with his agent. Not to mention buying tires for his mom.

"Before the day is over, this thing is probably going to ring 50 times," he says, still waiting impatiently at the Marriott Waterside, where he will attend two news conferences, the latter to accept the NFL's Man of the Year award for his continued work with children.

"I'm used to it," he says of his phone's constant ringing. "I've been doing this for a long time. Sometimes it wears you out."

With a call volume like he has, his monthly mobile phone bill could be obscene. But Brooks doesn't know what it is because he gets free calls through an endorsement deal with Sprint.

"It's not free," he says. "Nothing is free. There's no free lunch. That's one of the first economic lessons I learned in this business. I don't get these calls free. I work for it (by making appearances, appearing in advertisements, etc.)."

I stand corrected.

His phone rings twice more before the first news conference, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual state of the league address. Everyone is asked to turn off their mobile phones as a courtesy. Derrick gladly obliges.

Before he heads to the front of the room, an NFL official informs him he is getting two extra Super Bowl tickets for being named Man of the Year.

"Good," he says, "I can give them to my cousins."

When the news conference is over, he checks his phone and discovers he has seven voicemail messages.

As he walks from one news conference to the other, the phone is glued to his ear. As he waits at the podium for the news conference to begin, his mother calls again. This time it's about a doctor's appointment.

When he finishes the news conference, he is eager to leave so he can get home and change clothes before his next personal appearance, an autograph session at the K-Mart near Raymond James Stadium. "I don't want to have to go there in this," he says of his suit.

He is scheduled to sit down and do two on-location radio interviews, but he politely skips them so he'll have a little time to himself before the autograph gig.

After that, he has an appearance for DirecTV at 6 p.m., a dinner with his agent at Sacks Seafood Grill (owned by teammate Chidi Ahanotu), and then the NFL Players' Premiere Party at the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

Somewhere in there he'll find time to relax, run a few errands and enjoy himself.

Oh, and also make sure mom gets her new tires.

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