Every time LB Derrick Brooks makes another tackle on Sunday, hurricane victims in Pensacola will reap the benefits
"This is personal," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks.
A devastating series of hurricanes has affected nearly every citizen of Florida over the past six weeks; the most recent storm, Hurricane Ivan, ransacked Pensacola, Brooks's hometown, just days ago.
Brooks is fighting back.
Derrick Brooks Charities and the Buccaneers have organized a program to collect monetary donations prior to this Sunday's game between Tampa Bay and Seattle at Raymond James Stadium. There will be collection points for monetary donations at each of the four entry gates and the two club entrances to the stadium, which will open at 2:05 p.m. The collection points will be staffed by members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneer Cheerleaders.
"I feel like I'm Pensacola's son and now I have to reach back to my city again," said Brooks. "Hopefully we can get this community in Tampa on board to help [with the] efforts to help bring our city back to where it needs to be. It's going to take some time to get there, so I'm just going to do my small part to help our city get back to a thriving community."
The program won't end at kickoff. In addition to the monies collected at the stadium gates, Derrick Brooks Charities will donate $1,000 for each tackle Brooks makes during the game. In addition, the Pro Bowl linebacker plans to organize additional support from his teammates.
"I'm bringing it to our team, my teammates – we are going to try to do all we can," said Brooks. "And we are asking fans that come to the game on Sunday if you can leave a dollar, or leave a quarter, leave something in an effort to help us build."
Fans who make a donation will have the opportunity to fill out a form for a prize drawing. Randomly-selected winners will receive Buccaneer merchandise autographed by Brooks.
A former prep star at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Brooks has been shaken by the stories and pictures coming out of his hometown. Though thankful that the lives of his mother and friends were spared, he is aware that it will take an enormous amount of time and effort to overcome the effects of Ivan.
"It's not good, to be honest with you," said Brooks. "I've seen the pictures and I've gotten the stories that you guys are not getting. In terms of a lot of elderly families that I know, [they] have lost everything. It's very hard, to be honest with you, and it's very stressful. That's what really got me going in this project, not just this week, but continuing on and doing everything I can through my foundation to raise funds to help out our community in Pensacola. The pictures don't tell the story of what that storm did to our town. It's very tragic."