TAMPA — With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appearing to lend his support, the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School kicked off a multimillion dollar campaign for an athletic complex Friday with a fundraising breakfast.
Also attending the event at the Hilton Tampa Downtown were new Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Derrick Brooks, former San Francisco 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, and new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht.
“It's an honor to be here this morning,'' Goodell said. “When Derrick called, it was easy. As long as I could get there, I was going to be here. I'm proud of what both Derrick and Eddie have done. They are Hall of Famers in my opinion — one that's in and one that will be in. We have two people here who have made their communities better.''
In 2007, Brooks and DeBartolo joined forces as founders of a no-tuition charter school, whose enrollment has grown from 172 students to 430, with a waiting list for ninth and 10th grades.
The school has ambitious plans to build an athletic facility to house a program that features 14 sports for boys and girls.
“I'm so proud of what Derrick did on the field,'' Goodell said, “but more importantly, what he's done off the field. Serving the needs of this charter school is extraordinary, and his commitment to it is what you'd expect from Derrick Brooks — excellence.''
Brooks, a perennial Pro Bowl linebacker who played his entire 14-year NFL career with the Bucs, is the president of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.
“He's obviously a very busy man, but I'd take him any day,'' Goodell said when asked if he is recruiting Brooks to serve the NFL in some capacity. “I'm proud of him and I'd team up with him anywhere.''
The Bay area hasn't served as Super Bowl host since 2009 and Goodell assured the region's business leaders that the league's showcase event will return to Raymond James Stadium.
“I am convinced there will be another Super Bowl in Tampa,'' Goodell said. “The only question is when. Super Bowls have become very competitive, but this community has always done a great job with Super Bowls. You've got great ownership in the Glazer family, a great stadium and a great community. That's a winning formula for me and we will clearly be back here. Here's the bad news: I don't have a vote.''
With the league's popularity at an all-time high, Goodell said there is strong support for a proposal to add two additional teams to the playoff field.
“We have 12 teams out of 32 that make our playoffs now,'' he said. “This would only take us up to 14. The competitiveness of our league, that's the difference to me. It's not just adding two more teams that didn't have a chance to proceed in the playoffs, that wouldn't be something that we're interested in. I think what we're seeing now is such a competitive league that a team that got in on the 13th or 14th spot has a chance to win it all.”
The league will discuss the proposal at a May 20 meeting in Atlanta, where it could come up for a vote among owners.
Goodell also said that DeBartolo, a Tampa resident, would be welcomed back to the league as a potential owner. Under DeBartolo from 1977 to 1998, the 49ers won five Super Bowls. He gave up control to his sister after he was implicated in the corruption case of then-Louisiana Gov. Eddie Edwards.
“We've talked about it,'' Goodell said. “Eddie did a lot for the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers. He's someone who has had a lot of success, on and off the field.''