Buccaneers to honor Derrick Brooks

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will retire Derrick Brooks' No. 55 jersey and induct the soon-to-be Hall of Fame linebacker into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime of the Sept. 14 home game against the St. Louis Rams.

Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer announced the team's plan Tuesday to honor Brooks. That's the same treatment the Bucs gave Warren Sapp last year when he, like Brooks, was a first-ballot choice for the Hall of Fame.

Sapp and Brooks, who were drafted together in 1995, were instrumental in turning the Buccaneers from a laughingstock into a consistent winner.

"If Warren was the heart of our defense, Derrick Brooks was the soul that propelled us to our Super Bowl championship in 2002," Glazer said.

Brooks was a leader throughout his career, and dozens of former teammates showed up for Tuesday's announcement.

"I tried to do it the right way," Brooks said. "Show up, day in and day out and really let my performance send a message. I always said I'm the guy that's going to grab the shovel and start digging and not ask anyone else to dig."

Brooks, who currently works as the president of the Arena League's Tampa Bay Storm, was selected to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls, was the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2002 season and a co-recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in the 2000 season.

Brooks will join Sapp and Lee Roy Selmon as the only players in franchise history to have their numbers retired.

"I guess it will probably hit me Sept. 14 against the Rams when I see the number up there," Brooks said. "No one has worn it since I left. But to know that it's part of this franchise's history is a tremendous honor.

"I've had the opportunity to have my number retired in high school and college, but this is a little different for me because it's about every time that something goes on in that stadium and they see that number up there, they get a piece of me."

Brooks will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.