LB Derrick Brooks had answers for Buc fans on Friday
Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a lot of things: all pro-caliber linebacker, multiple degree-holder, first-rate philanthropist, and more. He's even a budding broadcaster, having tried his hand at both radio and television commentating.
So Brooks was a natural in front of the camera on Friday as he answered a list of 20 questions involving the Buccaneers, their Sunday matchup with Minnesota and the 2000 season. What made this interview unique is that all of the questions posed to Brooks came directly from Buccaneer fans, who had used Buccaneers.com to submit their queries.
Brooks was the latest Buccaneer figure to participate in a series of interviews called 'Your Turn'. Having already grilled such high-profile Bucs as Rich McKay, Tony Dungy, Les Steckel, Shaun King and John Lynch, Tampa Bay fans got a chance on Friday to bounce a few issues off of Brooks.
The full transcript of the first half of that interview is below. To watch the video of the interview, please click here.
Moderator: It is Friday, October 27, 2000, just two days before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the undefeated Minnesota Vikings in Raymond James Stadium. Taking a few minutes out from his preparations for that game today to be with us is three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Of course, you're well on your way to a fourth Pro Bowl, probably, as the leading vote-getter at your position in the NFC.
Derrick Brooks: I didn't know that.
Moderator: It just came out yesterday. That adds to the point I was about to make, that many observers consider you to simply be the best outside linebacker in the league. Thanks for taking some time to be with us today.
Derrick Brooks: No problem.
Moderator: What we have here is an interview series called 'Your Turn.' We call it that, because all the questions you're going to hear were sent in by Buccaneer fans using our web site. We received about 1,300 questions over the course of a few weeks…we're not going to make you answer all of them. We picked 20 that we think make up a representative sample, so if you're ready, we'll dive right in.
Derrick Brooks: Let's speak to the fans.
John from Tampa, Florida: How do you plan to stop Stephen Davis of the Redskins if you meet them in the playoffs?
Derrick Brooks: We do want to get a chance to play them again. I think the thing with Stephen Davis is, you've got to hit him early and you've got to hit him often. He's an excellent back, a very tough runner, but our defense usually has success against him once we continue to pound him.
Of course, we hit him well the first time, but he got out of there for one long run. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to play him again.
Sherrod from Dallas, Texas: Why, when you're playing a team like the Minnesota Vikings, or anyone with a mobile QB, doesn't the defense blitz more?
Derrick Brooks: Different quarterbacks, different offenses allow you to do different things. We do have some things up for Daunte this week, and I'm quite sure we don't want to do too much outside of the norm. If our defensive line rushes well, we should contain him okay.
Ashley from Long Beach, California: What do find to be the most fun part of your duties, the blitz, where you get to charge in and do damage, or the pass defense?
Derrick Brooks: By our scheme, I don't blitz a lot, so I enjoy playing the pass. It gives me a chance to get some interceptions and hopefully score my first touchdown.
Moderator: Along those lines, can you explain to the fans why you don't blitz that much?
Derrick Brooks: In our defensive scheme, the other two linebackers, our middle linebacker and our strongside linebacker, are used more in the blitz package. Our scheme is set up to use me more in the pass coverage. But there are some blitzes that are up that I do come, but we don't want to give away too much to the other team. I do blitz, but most of the time I'm in pass coverage.
Jo from Union Springs, Alabama: What would you consider to be the best hit you've ever made and who was the on the receiving end?
Derrick Brooks: Probably in high school. Way back then, in the first quarter of the game, I came across and hit this running back – well, he was actually playing quarterback. I forget his name, but I hit him - it was against our rivals – and he popped the ball up in the air and we scored the first touchdown and went on to defeat those guys, which we hadn't beaten since I'd been to high school. So it was probably that one.
Moderator: It must have been a good hit if it's still your best one.
Derrick Brooks: Oh, yeah.
Dennis from Tampa, Florida: I was wondering if you ever wanted to be on a different team or play a different sport.
Derrick Brooks: No, I'm satisfied being here in Tampa, especially since we've turned things around. I feel a little involvement here to be part of the formula that turns this franchise around from a losing franchise to a winning one. So I'm happy where I'm at and I have no desire to play anywhere else.
Rachel from Sebring, Florida: Do you still think Bucs can make to the Super Bowl or even make it to the playoffs?
Derrick Brooks: Right now, we just want to get a win. I think once we get that first win out of the way this week, things will start falling our way. We have to keep our goals short term now, from week to week.
Ed from St. Petersburg, Florida: I am a fan of both Florida State and the Bucs. Could you compare Monte Kiffin and Mickey Andrews. Who is the most intense when the game gets going?
Derrick Brooks: I think they both bring intensity to the game. They're alike in a lot of ways, but they're different in some. I think Mickey has a tough job. He has young men, young boys, playing for him that he develops into players, whereas Monte has guys that have been in college that he has to develop into pros.
Those are differences, but the ways they approach the game are very similar. They've been around football a lot and they have a lot to share with their players. And they both care about their players. I think that's a quality that I've had the fortune of playing for with two defensive coordinators.
Keven from Tampa: What makes the Bucs' defensive scheme so successful against high powered offenses like St. Louis and Minnesota?
Derrick Brooks: I think we do a good job of mixing our zone blitzes, our two-deep and our man-to-man. We do a good job of mixing it up, and we try to simplify things, make them as simple as possible so that we can go out and execute the defense.
Desmond from Orlando, Florida: Derrick, I have been watching you play since FSU. You are the best linebacker ever. What advice do you give to younger linebackers looking to hone their skills to compete at the college (and hopefully pro) level game?
Derrick Brooks: One thing I always do is stress to young athletes to build their foundation in education. You never know when your last snap is going to be, so always have that foundation to fall back on if things don't go according to your plan.
As far as football goes, I just encourage them to start lifting weights, start doing agility drills now, while you're young. I wish I would have done that a little bit sooner, but I think it all worked out okay. And then, just study football. Start becoming a student of the game and realize why you want to play the position. Then you'll start to realize how to play the position.
I always encourage kids to keep their heads up. Never go into a tackle with your head down, because that can cause a serious injury. Unfortunately, a kid died in high school just making a routine tackle. Just keep your head up when you're going in to make a tackle.
Moderator: And our coaches teach that you can actually hit through the player a little harder that way.
Derrick Brooks: You want to see what you hit. If you can see it, then you can position your body, whether you want to use either shoulder or your face. Sometimes it's a simple grab. You don't have to knock everybody out to make a play.
Timmy from Bartow, Florida: What is the difference between a "strongside" linebacker and a "weakside" linebacker?
Derrick Brooks: Strongside usually means it's the linebacker that's going to the strength of the offensive formation. The weakside usually lines up on the weak side, the one-receiver side of the offensive formation. Sometimes offenses flip the formation, so the linebackers flip. So I think that's the difference in our terminology. We use the strongside to mean the strong side of the offensive formation and weakside means the weak side of the formation.
Moderator: So you won't always be on the right or left side.
Derrick Brooks: No, I can be either right or left depending on where the offense is.