Who’s My Favorite Player?

Mr. Derrick Brooks.

Unfortunately, he was cut yesterday afternoon by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with the likes of four other notable veterans, including Cato June, Ike Hilliard, Joey Galloway, and Warrick Dunn. This day will mark the end of an era for the Buccaneers, as the final pieces of the “old school” Bucs (Brooks and Dunn) make their exits from the organization. (We all know that Ronde’s skill has been non-existant for a few seasons now, so his exit was in the past)

What is the team left with? Many see shambles and a humbling very sub .500 season in the immediate future. While others feel that this was a necessary, inevitable decision, and perhaps evidence of gut-wrenching dedication to establishing a new foundation to the team.

I’m with the latter group. I love these veteran players. While injuries surely resulted in the gradual phasing out of Galloway from the offense this past season, he presented a deep threat that had never been a daunting part of the Buccaneer offense in recent memory. (See: Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony = fail.) We can only hope that we continue to continued production from Antonio Bryant to fill this void.

Losing Hilliard is monumental as well. I don’t know if we have a replacement in the fold as of yet. He was, for the years he was here, our best 3rd down receiver. As one post said on the Tampa Tribune website, he was the only one with the “stones” to go over the middle AND actually catch the ball. Yet he too faced a similar phasing out as Galloway.

And let’s not forget how June had to learn the SLB position. While he didn’t emerge as the anticipated defensive force we had hoped, he was still a solid at the position. He’ll be a big signing this off season for another team looking to fill a WLB vacancy.

And then, Brooks and Dunn. Future Hall of Famers. Class acts all around. Now out of a job.

They will be remembered for their abilities on the field. But for many families and children in the bay area, these two men directly affected their lives by education. Dunn is known for his Homes for the Holidays campaign, giving a family in need a much deserved home. Brooks’ Bunch, Derrick’s foundation, goes on special trips each summer, one of which included a trip to Africa. Not to mention that these individuals are men of outstanding character and a genuinely positive influence in the sports world.

Everyone will be missed, and while I do not agree with the way DB55 was treated, this is the direction the Bucs need to take. Teams are consistently getting faster and offenses more creative and able to counter the signature Tampa 2. While defense has been what the team has always hung its hat on, it’s become nothing but a fragile reputation. Heck, I feel that at times we’ve overachieved in recent seasons on defense, given the age and (in)experience. Losing a leader like this is never easy. It will be time for players like Barrett Ruud and other incumbents to take over and grow together, much like how (oh so long ago) the young, newly drafted Brooks, Sapp and the rest of our young defense developed into one of the greatest of all time.

It can happen again. The only difference this time is that we’ve been spoiled by the taste of success, and now it is expected. I guess 20 or so losing season can make anyone desperate to never want to be that bad again. Let’s wait for how Dominik, Morris, and the Glazers approach the offseason and the draft before we write off the season, staff, and administration. We can denounce the treatment of one of our most iconic players. It was a classless, irreverant move, and Derrick Brooks (and even Warrick Dunn) deserves much better.

So to Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn: Thanks for making the lives of others that much brighter, whether it was through on-field excellence or a passionate dedication to the community. You both will be missed.

And of course we can’t have a Derrick Brooks post without showing of the greatest United Way commercial of all time.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser