In the video that played before the bust of Derrick Brooks was unveiled, his son Decalon said that Brooks wanted to be an insurance salesman when he was growing up because he wanted to wear a suit and collect money.
He ended up wearing a different uniform, pocketed plenty of cash, a Super Bowl win, and now a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And as Brooks joined the football immortals in Canton, Brooks vowed to do what he can to elevate the group.
“Now that I’m part of this team, it’s gonna be a better team,” Brooks said. “Because I’m gonna work my butt off to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame a better team.”
Brooks thanked an exhaustive and comprehensive list of those who helped him, from his youth through college through adulthood. He also thanked the entire state of Florida, given that he spent his full football career, from pee-wee through pro, in the Sunshine State.
One of the most unlikely expresses of appreciation went to kicker Martin Gramatica, who Brooks said helped deliver victory in plenty of close, low-scoring games with the three-pointers from his right foot.
The long list of players who received a mention from Brooks included defensive end Simeon Rice, whose career numbers and achievements suggest that he should get more serious consideration for a spot in Canton.
“You’re one of the best if not the best pass rushers of my generation,” Brooks said of Rice.
That’s a far more diplomatic way of saying what teammate Warren Sapp has said in the past — that Rice is more worthy of being in the Hall of Fame than Michael Strahan.
It was a long speech, and Brooks acknowledged it; “When you go first you can take your time.”
Brooks deserves to take as much time as he wants, doing whatever he wants and however he wants.