Derrick Brooks: A Most Valuable Person
Sept. 6, 2003
By Chuck Walsh, FSU Sports Information
Take a look at Derrick Brooks' long list of accomplishments and you'll likely get the impression that if he never picked up a football or put on a pair of shoulder pads, the former Florida State All-American would be successful in any other endeavor he would have selected.
He could be the CEO of a successful company, a member of the Board of Trustees at one of the largest public universities in the nation, a sports radio talk show host or one of the most civic-minded people you could ever meet. He could also donate much of his spare time to any number of charitable organizations throughout the state of Florida.
Or he could do all of that and more and still be one of the top players in the National Football League.
Brooks was instrumental in leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl championship in 2003. He has played in six consecutive Pro Bowls, has earned All-Pro honors in each of the last four years, is the all-time leading tackler in Buccaneer history and is the only linebacker in NFL history to have returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the same season. The 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is recognized as the league's best linebacker.
As a collegian, Brooks was a two-time consensus All-American who helped lead Florida State to its first national championship in 1993. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior as the Seminoles' defense led the league in every defensive category. Brooks was inducted into the FSU Athletic Hall of Fame and to the Seminoles' All-Time team in 2000. In addition, he won an NCAA post-graduate scholarship and earned Academic All-America honors. He earned his bachelor's degree in three years and a master's degree in 1999.
"Derrick Brooks would stand out in a crowd even if he were not an NFL All-Pro," said FSU President Dr. T.K. Wetherell. "Derrick has more than the means to do the deed - he has the character."
The character Wetherell is referring to is the inner resolve that has made Brooks one of the most caring and giving people one would ever want to know.
He credits his success to his parents, especially his mother, and their encouragement and support while he was growing up.
"Their influence can't be put into words," Brooks said of his parents. "I have chosen to show their influence through my actions in life."
Brooks focuses his charitable endeavors on children. He has done considerable work with the March of Dimes, D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and the Audley Evan Center, an after-school youth program in the Tampa area. This past summer he returned to his roots as he brought the Brooks Bunch on a two-day tour of Florida State with the purpose emphasizing the importance of education.
The visit by the Brooks Bunch to Florida State was the final stop of an 11-day tour of several U.S. cities and college campuses during the months of June and July. Brooks and 29 members of the Tampa Boys and Girls Clubs traveled to New York City, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta during their odyssey.
One of the annual goals of Brooks' Bunch is to help prepare the students in the group for life after high school. Bringing the students to Florida State gave Brooks a chance not only to introduce the students to one of the nation's top colleges, but also display his pride for the university. While on campus, the students received a tour of the Seminoles' football facility with tailback Greg Jones and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and also watched the team's 2002 highlight video.
"I think it is an obligation to give back and try to make life better for someone," said Brooks who counts family, football and community responsibilities as three of the most important aspects of his life. "Each event ranks No. 1 in that area of my life."
Brooks sponsors educational field trips annually to reward children from the Boys & Girls Clubs who have exhibited hard work, earned good grades and displayed exemplary behavior in the classroom. The 2003 & Beyond trip marked the sixth such trip made by Brooks' Bunch. Past trips have included tours of the western United States, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Ft. Lauderdale.
"I strive to be the best I can be both on and off the field," Brooks said. "I want to be the best I can be and I don't want to waste God's gifts for my life."
Brooks certainly has not let any of his God-given gifts go to waste. He is the chairman of a burgeoning mortgage company, is serving his first term on the Florida State University Board of Trustees, hosts a weekly radio show on Tampa's WDAE Thursday nights during the NFL season and is the loving father to a daughter, Brianna Monai, and two sons, Derrick, Jr. and Darius Dewan.
With all of the ways he has found to utilize his gifts, Brooks values his roots which continue to grow in Tallahassee.
"Florida State helped me grow from a boy into a man," Brooks said. "It taught me the value of loyalty, friendship, family and winning. Success is contagious. We were the best and it was fun to show it. We worked hard to stay at the top. Now I can use my FSU lessons to be the best man I can. Representing the garnet and gold never, never gets old."