TAMPA, Fla. -- The hiring of Lovie Smith as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has drawn positive reviews just about everywhere.
That’s only going to be enhanced by the weighty words you’re about to hear from Derrick Brooks. As you know, Brooks was one of the best players in franchise history and was a team leader during Tampa Bay’s glory days. Smith was Brooks’ linebackers coach for six years. Brooks said Smith’s hiring is a major step for a franchise that has lost some of its luster in recent years.
“It’s exciting because, for five years, I’ve just sat back and watched it disappear," Brooks said Tuesday. “The Glazers are not immune to this criticism. But I just sat back and looked from afar and just watched something I felt my teammates and I put a lot of effort into building, watch it just kind of slip away. Now, I think with Lovie coming back here, now you’re starting to build it again. I think the community will start to trust the organization and make an investment into the team again."
Brooks, a finalist for this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class, said Smith is the perfect coach for the Buccaneers.
“They got it right this time," Brooks said. “For where this organization is right now, I really believe he’s the right man at the right time. He brings a calming spirit and a consistent spirit that’s going to energize the entire staff. Not just the football side, but the business side and the whole community. With this type of environment, you can create that buzz for the community and they’ll want to spend money with the Bucs again. I’m excited about that. Just since he’s been hired, I’ve had so many people tell me that they’re going to get back on board.
Smith worked as an assistant coach under former Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy. The two frequently are compared, and some see Smith as a Dungy clone. Brooks said that perception isn’t accurate.
“Faith, family and football, that’s where they’re alike," Brooks said. “They’re alike in their consistency. But they’re different in how they go about doing it. I think they’re also different because Lovie has a lot more experience than coach Dungy had coming in here in 1996. Lovie’s getting a more talented team than what coach Dungy got in 1996. Lovie brings the experience of how to run a team and all those ancillary things from his time as the head coach in Chicago that Tony didn’t have in 1996. So the expectations on Lovie are a lot higher than what they were in 1996."