Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brooks: 'Tampa Will Always Be My Home'
TAMPA - Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks entered One Buc Place wearing a baby blue Nike jumpsuit, not the red and pewter most are used to him adorning. Brooks addressed the media this morning about his recent release by Tampa Bay and said he respected the organization's decision. He also said he wants to play for another team next season under the right circumstance. "You always wish the process will be different than what it is, but at the end of the day, I've always said our owners and leaders make decisions," Brooks said. "I respect the change and decision Coach [Raheem] Morris wants to go." Brooks, 35, an 11-time Pro Bowler, was at the news conference with his wife and daughter and expressed his appreciation to Tampa Bay's fans and the organization.He did not criticize Morris, who was promoted to head coach in January, or team ownership. However, Brooks did say the news was shocking and he has reached out to other former players who have been in similar situations. "I had more questions than answers when I received the news," Brooks said. "Some of the questions will never be answered. You just have to deal with it over time." Brooks said he planned to play this season, but it would have to be the right situation for him. He added he has options available that do not involve football. However, when asked whether he still had a burning desire to play football this season, Brooks did not emphatically declare he would continue his NFL career. "Again, at this time of the year I'm always fueling the tank back up to go, so my body is in that mood," Brooks said. "Again, until something happens and I decide that's not what I want to do, then that's what I will prepare myself to do. As I prepare, if those options start to look more like a reality, then I'll pursue them. If not, then I won't." Brooks added that even if he plays for another team, his heart will remain in Tampa. "I'm always here. You never leave the relationships," Brooks said. "That's why I say my approach as a human being is always about relationships first. Those never leave, and they'll always be here, if that decision is made to play elsewhere. The things that are set in place here that God has allowed has nothing to do with football. That's why I said it'll always be here, and Tampa will always be my home." Although Brooks could be bitter about the end of his Tampa Bay playing career, he did view his situation as a learning experience for children who look up to him. "I always tell them that God put me in this position for a reason. And again, I'm going to be a leader in this situation just like I am in all my challenges," Brooks said. "I look at it with the three P's: prayer, perspective and purpose. That's how I look at this situation and see where God takes me next. "It's going to be up here because I see a bigger situation than myself, and people outside of this sports arena and the struggles that some of my fellow citizens are going through, I want to be someone they can look to and say, 'Look at him and how Derrick carries himself and give me motivation to keep on going and keep on moving forward.' " Early this morning, speaking to ESPN's "NFL Live," Brooks said it will take a situation much to his liking to get him back on the field next year. "I do [want to continue playing]," Brooks said. "But we'll see what the interest is out there and what the options are that come along with it. We'll see what teams call and look at it with my family. If there's one I'm comfortable with I'll move forward. If not, I won't." Brooks also confirmed what Morris and new general manager Mark Dominik said on Wednesday: that his release was based on a desire to give younger players a chance to play more. "My situation had nothing to do with money," he said. "Coach Morris and Mark Dominik told me it was more about wanting to give the younger guys an opportunity to step forward. Whether I agree or disagree at the end of the day that's the direction they want to go in and I wish 'em well."
Reporter Anwar S. Richardson can be reached at (813) 259-8425.