Tonight, I guess for the first time in my life, I get the chance to sit back and enjoy some of the success of my individual career in the ultimate team game. When we just unveiled that bust, I realized this is what it’s all about, there’s no higher place to go in this game and I thank you guys. I promise you, now that I’m a part of this team, it’s going to be a better team because I’m going to work my butt off to make the Pro Football Hall of fame better now that I’m a part of it.
I am and will be a very humble man, and that’s because of three people in my life who are no longer here today in person, but these three people meant the world to me. Starting off with my grandmother, Martha Brooks. Our matriarch in our family. This lady held it down on the east side of Pensacola, believe me.
Next, my stepfather A.J. Mitchell. This man, through a sixth-grade education, worked his butt off to provide for our family. He’s a man of very few words, but when he spoke, he spoke loudly. And I’ll tell you, Dad, as you’re looking down upon us, I thank you for whipping me in front of my fifth-grade class to get my life together. Because if you didn’t love me enough to whip me, no telling where I was going to be.
Next, I can’t thank this lady enough: Geraldine Brooks-Mitchell. T...She supported me in no way possible that words can explain. This woman was the No. 1 tailgater. From pee-wee league all the way to Tampa Bay, nobody partied harder than Geraldine Brooks-Mitchell. ...She taught me this lesson: ‘Don’t let me ever hear you toot your own horn, because it makes one sound. But if everybody else is talking about you, that sound is forever. You’ve got me to do all the talking, so you just shut up and go do what you’ve got to do.’
I would like to recognize our first Hall of Famer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first ever draft pick, the late, great Mr. Lee Roy Selmon. ...Lee Roy set the standard, and we are just trying to walk the path that he set for us.
Next, I’d like to recognize the organization’s second Hall of Famer, my draft classmate of ‘95, my roommate, my teammate, Mr. Personality like no other, but I wouldn’t trade you in for another brother, my man, Warren Sapp. Doom, people don’t understand how we’re so opposite, but yet we’re so the same. We get along, and I simply tell them it’s not their business, it’s God’s. I love you and you know I wouldn’t be standing here without you.
I certainly want to thank my head coaches. First, Sam Wyche. Tony Dungy, my mentor, my friend. Coach, I love you, man. So much of what we do today as grown men are lessons you taught us with these four words: No excuses, no explanations. Next, I want to thank my last head coach, Jon Gruden. Coach, I know you’re watching. You were a guy who never slept. You motivated us. Man, you challenged us, not only to be good, to be great, be historic, be global. ...When we got there, we talked about world championships but we didn’t believe. Coach Gruden got us to believe that we could be world champions if we just scored touchdowns. By God, we scored the nine touchdowns you wanted. And this Super Bowl ring represents it.
And now, to talk to you about who I am - the man Derrick Brooks who stands before you as a servant leader. As a servant leader, I just want to do the best I can to make something better than it is when I come in touch with it. I’m going to work to do that. ...Community, as I once learned, is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Someone also taught me, that most people will forget what you say, some will forget what you do, but no one will ever forget how you made them feel. And guys that played with me, ladies and gentleman, as I go into this Hall of Fame, I want you to know that I’m going to do my best to make the Hall of Fame better because God has blessed me to be a part of it. Thank you.