Earlier this year, former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp was elected the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining legendary defensive end Lee Roy Selmon to become the second Tampa Bay player to be given the esteemed honor.
On Saturday that list grew by one more as standout Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot attempt.
Brook was a first-round draft pick of the Buccaneers in 1995 after a stellar college career playing for Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles. In his rookie season, Brooks started 13 of 16 games, and after that, never left the starting lineup through his career.
During his Buccaneers career Brooks made the Pro Bowl 11 times, was a nine-time All-Pro, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and a Walter Payton Man of the Year winner in 2000.
Brooks led the Buccaneers to their only NFL championship, a 48-21 victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season,and had a key pick-six in that game to clinch the win. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Brooks is widely regarded as the prototype weakside linebacker for the Tampa 2 scheme in which he played. Statistically, Brooks ended his playing career with 224 games played and 221 starts, 1,715 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions and seven touchdowns.
Brooks was the only former Buccaneer to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year as legendary coach Tony Dungy and strong safety John Lynch did not make the cut this year. Dungy, who coached the Buccaneers from 1996-2001, brought stability and respectability to a franchise that was mired in mediocrity for more than a decade. The Buccaneers went 6-10 in Dungy’s first season, which was his only losing season as a head coach, and the following year saw Tampa Bay make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Dungy led Tampa Bay to the playoffs four times in his six seasons, including the NFC Championship Game in 1999.
Dungy was fired by the Buccaneers after their second consecutive playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dungy was immediately hired by the Colts and coached seven seasons in Indianapolis. In 2006, he led his team to a Super Bowl victory. Dungy became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl.
Dungy retired to work for NBC Sports after the 2008 season and finished his coaching career with a 139-69 record.
Lynch joined the Buccaneers as a third-round selection from Stanford in 1993 and played with Tampa Bay until 2003. Known as one of the most feared hitters in league history, Lynch’s resume includes nine Pro Bowls, four-time All-Pro selections and the 2000 NFL Defensive Back of the Year.
After his release by the Buccaneers after the 2003 season due to a shoulder injury, Lynch played four more seasons for the Denver Broncos. For his NFL career, the former Stanford star recorded 1,058 tackles, 13 sacks and 26 interceptions.
Brooks joins former Oakland punter Ray Guy, former Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones, former Buffalo wide receiver, former Arizona and St. Louis defensive back Aeneas Williams, former Atlanta and Philadelphia defensive end Claude Humphrey and former NY Giants defensive end Michael Strahan as the newest class of Hall of Famers.
The Class of 2014 will be officially enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio as the main event of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Annual Enshrinement Festival Celebration.
– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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