NFL Hall of Fame inductee Derrick Brooks is preparing to accept the most prestigious honor in the league. He took some time to speak with the media about his career, his future, and what he’s thankful for.
In about ten days you’re going to have to make the speech of your life, how much work are you putting in?
“I think first off, I like to try to keep the same mindset for this as a speech that would touch others but I don’t want to put pressure on myself…for me, I just want to get up there and obviously thank people that were a big influence on my career and my life and at the same time, leave with a message of who derrick brooks is today and who derrick brooks will be moving forward…I like to speak from the heart…probably much of my speech will be from the heart because that’s who I am.”
You’ve talked over the years about your mom’s influence. What have you carried with you the most?
“My mom has really stressed to treat people how I want to be treated and she always wanted me to have an attitude of humility. She wanted me to always have a humble approach in life.”
“My mom always did what she could to help others. We always had to run errands for her friends who couldn’t do it themselves. In a small way, that was my humble beginning to set my attitude to help make life better for somebody else.”
A Detroit Lions rookie said that you are his all-time favorite linebacker. What does that mean to be recognized like that?
“It feels great. It’s a testament that I can play in any situation…from special teams to defensive plays, I had my knack of doing it and I was asked to cover more than I did in terms of rushing but I played my game so that I excelled in a lot of areas.”
What are you most proud of with your “Brooks Bunch” foundation?
“The bigger picture is that I’m extremely humbled to say that I changed the life of one child. Obviously, every one of these kids has a story about how this program changed their lives and those are the stories that I celebrate. The general theme of our foundation is that we changed the life of one child–whether its one or one thousand–that’s what I’m most proud of. I thank God that football gave me that stage to stand on to help the community.”
What was your son’s reaction when you asked him to present you?
“My son was shocked and he smiled. I had to tell all four of them that my plan was to have all four of them say something but the process is that only one could speak so I told him that since he;s my oldest son, I wanted him to take the first shot…my kids had their huddle up to talk about it and we really got him comfortable with the idea. I would say that by remembering how shy his smile was, he;s happy to do it. He;ll probaly be nervous but we’ll get him through it.
Do you see qualities of yourself in your oldest son that plays football?
“The same rules apply to him that did with my dad and me and that’s to go 100% all the time and if you make a mistake, go full speed, and have fun! I’m proud of him. I don’t wan’t to make comparisons because that’s not fair. He’s doing this because that’s what he wants to do and I want to support him as a father. he has a different skill set and I want him to max out on his own abilities. Last week at Florida State I watched him and I felt good. He has this opportunity that I never had–to go to a Florida State football camp, to breathe that air and go through moments that I’ve been through. I really enjoyed that last week. We had a chance to spend quality time together there. My son and I are totally opposites. My son is more reserved than me.”
How did you feel walking into camp when you went through it?
“Coach Dungy’s system allowed me to play to the best of my abilities. I’ll always say that players play the game, the system doesn’t. The system puts you in a position to play to the game.”
Is Coach Dungy be treated fairly for his Michael Sam comments?
“I reserve the right to say, since I haven’t talked to coach, the essence of what this comment was made or the context of his comment…There are so many angles to go with this but I generally feel that he’s saying what 31 other teams are probably saying because they didn’t draft him for whatever reason, he was just saying that if he were a head coach, this is how he would approach the situation. I’m in no position to judge that because I haven’t spoken to him…reading the comments on the surface, I would simply make that remark.”
Brooks will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday August 2nd at 7:00 PM.