Derrick Brooks and Buccaneers build bridge

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Derrick Brooks retirement announcement just ended a few minutes ago. It was lengthy (deservedly so) as accolades flowed from all directions and Brooks talked at length. But let’s cut straight to the chase.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brooks both did what they had to do. They made things right for their pasts and their presents. Their futures?

“I don’t know,’’ Brooks said when asked about the next step in the process. “We’ll move on from here.’’

That’s important just to hear that Brooks and the Buccaneers are moving forward. Kind of like the one between Tampa and St. Petersburg, there is a bridge between the Buccaneers and the best player in franchise history.

Like I said yesterday, the Buccaneers need Brooks on their side right now, perhaps more than they ever needed him as a player. They didn’t need another “Curse of Doug Williams’’ and another feud that went on for decades.

This one went on for 18 months. Brooks had his feelings hurt when the Buccaneers released him just after coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik took over. The Bucs didn’t handle that situation very well. Truth be told, Brooks wasn’t exactly flawless in handling things either. This whole thing could have been worked out by both sides long ago. Instead, it took 18 months.

All that really matters now is that there’s an official truce. The Bucs went out of their way with a spectacular ceremony, and team co-chairman Bryan Glazer put one in the upper deck when he referred to Brooks as "such a symbol of what we want our franchise to be on and off the field."

When Brooks got his turn, he never put on any airs or implied that he was thrilled by how his departure from the team came down. There was no official “I forgive you’’ or anything close to that from Brooks. There was no announcement by the Bucs that they were adding Brooks to the coaching staff or giving him some exotic title in the front office.

But just making this ceremonial move was a big step for both sides. Brooks said he’s not interested in coaching anything beyond his son’s youth league team. Although there have been rumblings about a career in politics -- and Brooks didn’t totally rule that out for the future -- he said that’s not what he wants at this point.

He’s doing some broadcasting work. He’s staying active in his various charity work. That’s all great. But the most important thing Brooks can do going forward is just continue being Derrick Brooks.

There wasn’t a more fitting quote Thursday than the one sent down from New York, and we’ll end it with that.

“Derrick Brooks exemplified the best of the NFL, a true class act both on and off the field,’’ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He will be remembered as one of the greatest players in Buccaneers history. But even more important is the type of man Derrick represents -- his leadership and integrity have few peers.’’