Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brooks Goes Back to School

Buccaneers star LB Derrick Brooks visited Mary Bryant Elementary as part of the NFL’s “Take a Player to School” program, helping to spread a league-wide message about the importance of education

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Derrick Brooks takes questions from the third graders at Mary Bryant Elementary during his visit

It was a raffle unlike any other.

Madison White, an eight-year-old third grader at Mary Bryant Elementary, placed her name in a fishbowl at a Bay area JC Penney department store, thereby putting her and her school in the running for the National Football League's "Take a Player to School" sweepstakes.

When the time came to choose a winner, White's name was pulled, making her the recipient of a remarkable prize: Derrick Brooks!

Because Madison's name was pulled, Mary Bryant Elementary won a visit by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Pro Bowl linebacker on Tuesday, with the excited third-grader as his host. Talk about an impressive Show-and-Tell presentation.

The league-wide "Take a Player to School" program is a tool for the NFL to encourage children to stay in school and become involved in after-school programs. At all 32 NFL cities around the country, players were using their Tuesday day off to visit the winning schools and spread their shared message.

White, who arrived at school in a stretch limo, welcomed Brooks to Mary Bryant bright and early on the morning of November 15. The two then went to the principal's office where Brooks met White's family and signed footballs for the school.

The entire third-grade class gathered in the auditorium so that White could introduce Brooks to her classmates. Brooks then addressed the students, during which time he stressed the importance of education. He made sure the students understood that education is the foundation for life, and he shared with them four simple things he wanted them to remember from his visit.

"Now repeat after me," Brooks said to the students. "Stay in school. Respect my teachers. Listen to my teachers. Root for the Bucs!"

The students enthusiastically repeated each phrase. Brooks then shared a story he often uses when asked about his childhood education. Growing up, Brooks always made good grades, but he often goofed around and was considered the class clown. One day during fifth grade, after he had ignored his father's warnings to straighten up, his dad paid him a visit in his classroom. Brooks' father spanked him right there in front of his entire class, and Brooks was never the class clown again.

After finishing his story, Brooks took questions from the kids. He told them that he initially played baseball as a youngster and that he plans to spend more time with his family and play more golf after retiring from football.

Brooks presented White with a Buccaneers football and a jersey that proclaimed her a "#1 Fan." Each of White's classmates received a football, along with additional prizes from the NFL and JC Penney.

The students of Mary Bryant Elementary were able to learn some valuable lessons from Brooks during his visit, which made it more than worthwhile for the NFL star.

"I am very grateful I was able to come out here and have kids listen to a couple words of encouragement," said Brooks. "I know how much I looked up to my teachers and how much effect they had on my life."

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