Considering the man’s pedigree, it’s probably not wise to doubt him.
Considering his good health, it’s probably just as smart to avoid the second guess.
No one can be blamed for thinking that linebacker Derrick Brooks is on the NFL pier getting ready to watch the sun set on his remarkable career. But Brooks, who turns 34 this offseason, sees it another way. And considering everything we know about him, who are we judge.
“I’m long from done,” Brooks said in a candid moment on Wednesday. “I’m still having fun. I love what I’m doing. God has blessed me way beyond this green grass. I’m long from done!”
I buy it. Perhaps you should too.
Don’t we owe it to him to believe when he says his career isn’t over?
Shouldn’t we believe when he says that this isn’t going to be the way things finish – not with so many losses, so many painful moments?
Aren’t we obligated, in some small way, to accept that failing to be voted to the Pro Bowl team for the first time in nine seasons just doesn’t seem right. Not for a man who at the Combine was told by the Cardinals that he would have to play safety, before going out and creating the prototype for the weakside linebacker.
Sure, the Hawaii hiatus hurts. I’m guessing it’s like getting up in the morning and having that cup of coffee every day for nine years. Then, all of a sudden, someone else has your mug.
Talk about disorienting!
“Yeah, it bothered me. Of course, I haven’t been in this situation for a long time,” he said. “Not taking anything away from the guys who made it, I felt that despite the lack of success our team has had, I have kept my play up at a high level.
“Of course, there have been (frustrations). I’m not going to stand here and say otherwise. I’m kind of embarrassed because they said one game I was on the sideline and they showed my face without my helmet and my face said it all. Normally, I have my helmet on. Those things happen.”
So, rethink casting aspersions that the Pro Bowl snub is a sign of the end. Brooks is perfectly clear about that.
“Yeah, well when you’re losing, people think that way,” Brooks said. “But to me, anyone who thinks that way, is a quitter. They are not winners.”
Truth is, you’ve thought that way. I’ve thought that way, too. I’ve wondered how much longer he has and how much more he can do?
But either Brooks is the world’s best salesman, or he is firmly convinced that he will play a critical role in the revitalization of the team he helped build.
Here’s some evidence, after going 5-11 in 2004, Brooks was adamant that things would turn around. In 2005, they were 11-5 and made the playoffs. The renovation will start with leadership.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and about a different way of leading,” he said. “I think I probably have had more energy during this time than any and you’d think it would be the other way around. When you’re winning, you’re all energetic, and everything is going the way you want it.
“It’s more challenging. You’ve got to dig deep to get people to believe in the same things you want them to believe in when you’re winning. Especially when they haven’t won. People want the proof in the pudding. You say these things and they say, ‘Well, why aren’t we winning?’ I try to go about doing things by being me, leading by example and providing more energy outwardly than in the past.”
Knowing the way Brooks is often seen walking around the locker room with a briefcase, you wouldn’t be shocked to know he already has a plan for 2007.
“I think the one thing I want us to do is wipe the season clean as of Jan. 2,” he said “Wipe it clean, and start thinking about our synergy. From the owners, all the way down to the guys allocated to the NFL Europe. We have to get this city going in terms of football again. It’s not going to happen over night. It’s going to take some work. Once the season’s over, we have to go to work.
“I know how I’m going to do it. I’m going to look back and write down everything that I have learned in terms of myself, and about the team. Secondly, I have to go and pray over the answers. And then I’m going to go out and have some fun and bring some energy back to work this offseason. A concentrated effort to have fun. It’s not necessarily about having something to prove. Once you line up, we all have something to prove. But, bring some fun back to here, because everyone is going to be so down.”
Remarkably, after 11 losses, countless moments of dismay, a spot as a first alternate, a pending 34th birthday, a city eager to see change and a league of brimming young talent, Brooks says he is bubbling over with enthusiasm, for now and 2007.
“It’s partly because we have a young team,” he said. “When I think no one is looking, I turn around, someone is looking.”
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