It's happening to
He always knew it would happen, and he's prepared himself for a career after football as well as anyone can, but it's happening too fast, and he's not really ready to go. He can't believe he's in his 17th week of unemployment after being cut by the Bucs, and no team in the NFL has offered him a chance to sign, even for relative pennies.
I'm stunned by it, quite frankly. I don't care if the guy gets wheeled into a locker room with two broken legs. Derrick Brooks is a football player's football player, one of the best students of the game I've ever seen. He keeps voluminous notes, he watches hours of tape on days off, he calls his coaches after midnight in the off-season to brainstorm. (True story. Ask the new Seattle defensive coordinator,
I understand an NFL team is going to employ between six and eight linebackers, usually, depending on whether the team runs a 3-4 or 4-3, and I understand that Brooks isn't going to be an every-down player at 36. So the book says if you're going to have a linebacker playing 20 snaps a game, he'd better play a huge role on special teams. And Brooks, at his age, wouldn't be the kamikaze type you'd want out there. So it comes down to this: An NFL coach would have to keep one fewer special-teams demon in exchange for having one of the best leaders in the league. And that's why Brooks sits home in Florida today, waiting for the phone to ring.
But there might be something else.
"I'll tell you the real reason,'' his friend
"The game's different now. Look at
I have heard that Collins went out of his way last year to try to help Young when the struggling quarterback was having his quasi-breakdown. Young had no interest. Maybe Sapp's on to something. If he is, it's a sad commentary on the kids of the NFL. I remember being in Tampa last year to do
Brooks told me he wants to play one more year. His gut feeling is he'll get picked up. His agent,
"I'll tell you how committed I am to play, and playing well,'' said Brooks. "I was hurt most of last year. First time in 14 years I've been hurt, and I played hurt. It affected me, obviously. But I wanted to play well so badly this year that I skipped the Pro Bowl after the season, and the day after our season ended, the day after we lost to Oakland in the last game, at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, I was in the trainers' room doing my rehab work on my hamstring. I didn't want to have any setbacks by playing in the Pro Bowl.''
When new coach
The fall. That's when Brooks hopes he's playing. Somewhere.
"The reality in this game is we're all going to walk into work one day and be told, 'You're out of a job.' '' he said. "I don't think it's my time yet.''
It's not up to him. For someone who always controlled his own fate with his effort and his play, that's the hardest part.
Four other notes as we head into the dead period when most teams closed up shop and rest prior to camps opening in late July:
"With all due respect, after we win I definitely will not be stomping on any towels. That's just utter disrespect ... A proud organization, the Steelers Nation. But I'm not too worried about it.''
Cushing will open at strongside linebacker, next to tackling machine
"When he's been out here in shorts without a live rush he's made very good decisions, thrown an accurate ball and hasn't turned the ball over. But his foot speed is not very good. He's slow getting to the launch point and he's got a very slow and long delivery. So you have to weigh that. Sure he's been completing a lot of passes, but will he be able to get the ball out?"
"I just told him that unless he's picking up my mortgage for the month of July and August, he can't stay. He's not living for free. I don't need another kid around the house."
"Damn! I almost got caught texting!''
"It took 30 minutes with a blow dryer to make my shoes wearable this morning. They smell like dogs.''
This week's sign the Green Bay Packers miss
This week's sign that the Green Bay Packers don't miss Brett Favre: Only 192 season tickets in the entire building were not renewed after a 6-10 season, the first one with Favre not under center in 17 years.
OK, I'm out for four weeks after tomorrow's mailbag column. I wanted to give notice about the Tweetups I'll be doing, and where they will be happening, between now and the start of the season. (Define, Tweetup, you say. All right. It's a meeting between me and fans -- or non-fans planning to pelt me with tomatoes -- at which you can ask me whatever you want to ask, or at which we can just commune. I don't know. I've never done one. We'll see how they go.) The schedule:
• There will be a Boston Tweetup after my training camp tour ends in late August or early September. Not sure of the date or site yet.
One last thing: Why the minor-league venues? We wanted to do them in public places with easy access for fans. We'll see how these meetings go, and if they work in places like this, we'll do some more. If only three or four people show up, we'll have them on my back deck in the future.
1. I think the most amazing thing I've heard in the past month, and I've confirmed it with someone close to
2. I think the most worrisome thing about that previous note is what it says about what in tarnation the Detroit Lions have been doing for the past decade. No weight program that receivers had to live by during the season, and out of season? That is downright ridiculous.
3. I think I know I'm late on this one, and I've opined on it in other forums, but I don't think this is a good sign for
4. I think whether Favre has agreed to a contract or not -- and profootballtalk.com reported Sunday night he may well have done so -- there is universal agreement among those close to Favre that the money is either done or absolutely not going to be a problem. Favre's playing for Minnesota if his right arm feels OK by month's end.
5. I think the Bengals, as woebegone as they've been, can be models for something: doing what they said they'd do. Over and over in the past two years, owner
6. I think
7. I think I owe a bit of clarification to the contract I quasi-ripped in this space last week, the five-year, $47.5-million deal signed by quarterback
8. I think what impresses me about the first United Football League draft is how many players there are out there trying to resuscitate their careers. Look at the Orlando roster:
9. I think as I head off on a short break before hitting the training-camp trail, I'd like to wish
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The "V'' on the side of so many caps at the U.S. Open, including the hat of
b. So I went to the first round of the U.S. Open, the rain-shortened day. (Wait. Weren't all the days rain-shortened?) An observation from a golfing neophyte: I stood 10 feet behind Tiger Woods at the teebox on the 389-yard par-four second hole and watch him line up, address the ball and hit a shot on the hole, which has a slight dogleg left. The idea is to get the ball far out on the fairway, but not too far because then it'd be in the low rough, and if you can, get it to draw a bit to the left so you'll have a shorter shot to the green. I had a perfect view, from exactly behind Woods, and Woods' shot looked absolutely straight as it gathered lift and flew into the distance. Then, near its height, the ball started ever-so-slightly curving left. And it dropped left a bit, landing maybe 150 yards from the hole, in position for Woods to par it, which he did.
My point is not that Woods made a textbook shot. My point is that of eight threesomes we saw, there was only one shot that wasn't very good or better than Woods' out of 24 golfers. I'm talking guys the casual fan has barely heard of --
d. Four-game lead, Boston. Do not get cocky. The Rays are coming. The Yanks are the Yanks.
e. Uncle. Uncle! The first day of summer brought weather more like the first day of spring in the northeast -- heavy mist, fog, 58ish degrees, strong winds. I thought I moved to Boston, but apparently the truck brought our stuff to some combo platter of Seattle and Juneau.
f. Coffeenerdness: I'm in coffee nirvana when Equator Coffee is being served. Check it out. San Rafael, Calif.-based, and good and dark. Try the Zulu blend.
g. I don't know who
h. I do, however, know good books. Or at least one good book. Remember my review last week for the Bataan Death March spellbinder,
i. The column will be off for the next four Mondays, but I want you to look for some surprise MMQB authors over the next four weeks. Who? That's a surprise. You'll have to log on each Monday to learn. I'll be back Monday, July 27, the day before I leave for my training-camp jaunt.