Copyright 2007

In this week’s Bucs Shots, Pewter Report editor-in-chief Jim Flynn sounds off on message board Itchalot’s take on challenging the media to track down the truth regarding linebacker Derrick Brooks and whether the 2007 season is going to be his final one in Tampa Bay.

Pewter Report – You Should Be Tracking Down The Truth About Brooks – Posted On July 7, 2007 by Itchalot

The underlying assumption of the future linebackers article that was posted on a few weeks ago is that there is a good chance that this is Derrick Brooks' last year. Of course, that’s’not news. And yet it’s not news. It should be. Brooks is the best player ever to put on a Bucs uniform, and yet nobody seems to want to talk about the issue.

Shouldn't this be the year for the fans to give Derrick Brooks the sendoff he deserves? Does he want that? Or does he want to be like Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order? Just put your stuff in a box and walk out.

I was wrong when I said last year that fullback Mike Alstott was getting all the attention for what people thought was his swan song year, when it very well could be the last year for Brooks as well and he wasn't getting any of the attention that Alstott was getting. Yes I was wrong. There's a first time for everything. But here we are again.

This year I am saying the same thing. And the odds are much more in my favor. This time we know for sure it’s Alstott's last year. Will he get all the attention that Derrick Brooks deserves? Will Brooks be listening to all the fanfare for Alstott, while in his heart the best Buccaneer ever known is walking unnoticed down the same path?

Brooks may want to be Lennie Briscoe, but even so I think that we will all look back at this year as a travesty of justice if Brooks doesn't get his due while Alstott is getting his.

Can this travesty be avoided? I don't know. But I know that if Pewter Report and other media don't do everything they can to track down answers to this issue, even to the point of annoying Brooks a little, then they will be just as guilty as the fans for letting this happen.

Jim Flynn’s response to Itchalot’s post

Itchalot – You bring up some interesting points, but I'm afraid it's a little more complicated than that.

The media can inquire through the player and/or other sources until they’re blue in the face about whether that player will retire, but unless the player wants to acknowledge it, there’s a strong chance you will receive a “I’m just focused on this season and helping our team win” type of answer.

Players rarely come out and announce their retirement before or during their final season. New York Giants running back Tiki Barber was an exception, not the norm.

Behind closed doors, we've heard from several people that have suggested Brooks gave retirement some consideration during the offseason to not believe he'll hang up his helmet in a year or two. He’s 34 years old and past his prime.

However, Brooks still is a 10-time Pro Bowler and the leader of the defense. For what he might be losing in speed he can still make up for mentally.

Based on what we know and what people have told us on and off the record, we believe 2007 will be Derrick Brooks' last season with the Bucs, but we haven't said that it will be on his terms. Even if Brooks, who is under contract with the Bucs through the 2009 season, wants to continue playing, he might have to suit up for another team in 2008.

That’s because Brooks will be 35 next April and the team signed Cato June during the offseason. Although June is working primarily at strongside linebacker right now, he did take a significant amount of reps on the weak side during Brooks’ absence due to his mother’s unfortunate passing. The Bucs believe June or rookie LB Adam Hayward could prove to be successors to Brooks. Jamie Winborn, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2008, could also be a successor to Brooks if the team re-signs him.

If Brooks and/or fullback Mike Alstott came out and announced that this was going to be their last season in the NFL, they each would deserve and receive a separate send-off. They've certainly earned it. But until they announce it publicly, everyone’s hands are tied. People have been speculating for years that Alstott will retire, but he’s still playing. Send-offs lose their luster when the player fails to actually retire.

A lot of people don't mention this, but notice how the Bucs have not given out jersey numbers 47 or 99? I'm pretty sure the Bucs have something special planned for 47, 99, 40 and 55 once they've all called it a career.

Brooks has been an advocate for the Bucs implementing a Hall of Fame for the organization. This is speculation on my part, but I’m wondering if the Bucs might actually decide to unveil their plans for this once John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Brooks and Alstott retire. That would certainly be a nice way to kick off the Bucs Hall of Fame. Of course, Lee Roy Selmon would probably be inducted with this group as well.

I believe the Bucs will give these players the send-off they deserve, but it might not be in their final game as Bucs. That's because unless the player gives advanced notice that he is going to retire, it would be kind of silly to give a send-off to a player just to find out they are playing for the Bucs again the following season.

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