Who do you think of when you consider the top linebackers of the 2000s?
But former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks deserves to be in that conversation as well, which is why he was selected alongside the aforementioned duo as the three linebackers on the First Team of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team in January 2010.
The Pensacola, FL native, who finished his playing days in 2008 and officially retired in 2010 following a 14-year career with the Buccaneers, actually has better numbers than Urlacher in just one more season — although Urlacher played in 42 less games due to multiple injuries, while Brooks never missed a single game and started all but three of the 224 career games he played in.
That durability is something that doesn’t come along very often in football, what with the wear and tear that the game takes on a player’s body. And given that Tampa Bay could always count on Brooks to anchor its defense, it’s easy to see why the franchise enjoyed four division championships and one Super Bowl championship during the big man’s tenure — and hasn’t come close to either since No. 55 left.
Just like Lewis and Urlacher, Brooks will forever be linked with one team, which is a huge accomplishment in itself. Add in 1,698 tackles (1,283 solo), 13.5 sacks, 25 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles, and you’ve got the recipe for a 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
With that said, congratulations to Warren Sapp, Curley Culp and Dave Robinson, who each made their mark on the defensive side of the ball and will be a part of the seven-man class that will be enshrined this weekend in Canton, OH.
And get ready to welcome Brooks into the fold in 2014. He’s much too deserving to be left out.