Thursday, February 26, 2009

Whatever. Derrick doesn't NEED the Bucs.

I can't believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Derrick Brooks, along with four other "old" players: Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Cato June.

Derrick Brooks is arguably the best Buc ever, and inarguably one of the best. Guy's been to the Pro-Bowl eleven times. He's on the Florida State University board, for chrissakes! He's not only a fantastic football player, he's a nice guy to boot. Not that something like character matters in the NFL, but still. Damn.

Full disclosure: I went to FSU with Derrick Brooks, as in we had classes together. Not as in, he ever knew of my existence. But it was well-known that he was a good guy then, too. So I'm totally biased here.

Brooks has been a shining example of what a pro athlete should look like, and this is how he's treated. Booted out the door, no explanation, no warning.

"Right now, like all of you guys, I'm just trying to get a feel for it all, trying to come to grips with it," Brooks told ESPN by telephone. "I don't even know what to think."

I can't blame this on new head coach Raheem Morris (as much as I'd like to; who the hell is this guy? Oh, he's the former assistant coach); he's too new to have made this decision. It has to be the owners. Four of the five guys let go were over 30 and the other guy is 29 - they made it really clear that they're looking to give the younger players more field time. But at the team's expense?

Derrick Brooks has been with the Bucs since 1995 - since he left Florida State. Fourteen years, people. And let's not forget - two Super Bowls. TWO.

He founded Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, a charter school in Tampa, and created "Brooks Bunch," a group for disadvantaged kids that he takes on trips like Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He's served on the FSU board since 2003.

Of course, fellow FSU alum Warrick Dunn also deserves some praise. This dude gives away houses! Dunn founded "Homes for the Holidays," where he helps single parents buy houses and donates furniture, food and accessories for the home.

These firings come on the heels of the Jacksonville Jaguars firing their cornerstone player "Fragile" Fred Taylor (a former Gator, thank you very much - I try to keep it balanced) after eleven years. He also made it clear he wanted to stay, but the Jags said "no thanks."

Say what you will, this is the end of an era for the NFL.

I, for one, will have a hard time getting fired up about either the Jags (my former hometown team) or the Bucs (I've loved b/c of all their Seminoles). I may be done with pro football for a while.

Of course, I've got a spring and summer to change my mind, but it will never be same without Derrick.

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