Mr. Derrick Brooks Speaks

June 3rd, 2009

Former Bucs great and future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks made an appearance on Sirius NFL Radio’s “The Blitz” Wednesday afternoon with co-hosts Adam Schein and Solomon Wilcots. Most of the conversation was about Brooks’ involvement with the NFLPA.

Solomon Wilcots: I know you are doing a lot of things with the NFLPA. Tell me about your involvement.

Derrick Brooks: I was openly involved in finding a new director. DeMaurice Smith won the election. Most importantly, I’m working to get a CBA agreement. What has transpired since is to help him transition into his office in a variety of roles. One is for him to travel around to teams so they can see the voice and give him time to share his vision. Then, to re-assemble the staff. He’s taking one thing at a time, one need at a time. There’s a little bit of change in the business. It’s not business as usual as in the past history. There are a few platforms and things he wasn’t to move forward in his vision and one of those is to repair relationships that were damaged.

Adam Schein: What relationships were damaged and what advice are you giving DeMaurice Smith?

DB: Our retired players and the relationship have gone to different levels. The much older retired players have issues versus the issues of the recently retired players. We need to identify the players with issues. For some it’s a medical need, others pensions, others licensing rights. The message I am getting out is, let someone bring all of those issues together. We have so many factions of retired players. There’s no one voice. There is one [group] in a geographical area pitted against another group. There’s no common voice amongst them. Once we get them organized we can start attacking the issues at hand. We need to try to find what is common and establishing an alumni group. Right now it’s so easy to do that with no credibility. We’re trying to bring credibility. If you do [what it takes to meet established guidelines then] you are a credible group. Right now, there are so many things out there we’re trying to figure out where to start.

SW: What do you see as more of a priority of issues with current players today?

DB: I think the first thing is, what every one needs to understand, players care about others than ourselves. It’s important for us that we care about the people who work in the stadiums. The common laborers. Those jobs on Sundays, we care about them. We care about the people who fill up the stadium. People need to understand it’s not about us, it’s bigger than us. As for retired players, we care about them. If the CBA is not done, benefits are not paid. It’s offending that people say the players do not care. Just because we publicly are not saying that does not mean we don’t care.

Second, speaking about what is important, a rookie salary cap, we have nothing to do with how teams draft. We are not in the war room. The owners decide who, where and what players get drafted. They decide what they get paid. We don’t; the owners decide. So how is that an issue for us? Why talk about that? Let’s talk about what does affect the CBA. Share the financial information. If you are losing money lets see how you are losing money. But the owners won’t open the books. That’s more important. When it comes to negotiations, one group [of owners] is working one way; one group is working another way. The union is trying to be the mediator amongst the owners. We are technically mediators. Those are the things I choose to talk about. The rookie salary cap is not going to get a CBA done.

SW: How can owners reach an agreement amongst themselves with revenue sharing? Don’t they need to get that done before they can get a CBA?

DB: they think the current deal is too much, that the players got too much. The owners all agree on that. But how are we getting too much [a] problem? As business people, they are going to force something because it’s not going to hurt them. They have financial backing from the networks where we play a game or not. We have prepared for the same situation. That’s when we retain dues. Everyone has positioned themselves. When [the owners] hired a lobbyist that worked for the NHL during their lockout, that sends a signal. We realize we are business partners and we have had labor peace and that is the success of the NFL. It’s positive [in the] preliminary talks. All small talk is positive. Nothing I can share with you as negative. Some issues talked about earlier than others. At the end of the day, I have confidence we will get something done so there is not a lockout or an uncapped year.

AS: I hear the intelligence and passion in this. Are you still going to play football again?

DB: (laughs) I’m going to play football. It’s just when I take on an issue I am all in. Whether it’s my high school or my charities or NFLPA issues, I will max out. I have to stay patient. From the word I get from teams, they want to get a good look at others in the OTAs but I am No. 1 on a lot of teams’ lists in case something happens.

AS: Isn’t that disrespect? You were a Pro Bowl player last year even though you were hurt.

DB: (laughs) I don’t know how to take it because I’ve never been in this situation before. I am just not on the itinerary that most teams have. I still work out in the morning. I still have tapes I look at to remain focused. When you are working out by yourself, you learn a lot about yourself. I pushed myself. I needed something to push me. I’m working out now. I do this by myself and I think I am a pretty motivated guy. I learned a little bit about myself about how I am pushing myself. I tell people all the time I am blessed with options. I can continue playing but I have options if I don’t play. I’ll take advantage to the fullest whether it’s playing or if it’s my businesses in Tampa.

AS: Do you have an opportunity to work fulltime with the NFLPA? Does that intrigue you?

DB: You have to ask DeMaurice Smith. Troy Vincent got me involved. The union needed me and I accepted this invitation. Since, I have done that. Mr. Upshaw allowed me to be involved in things other players didn’t have the advantage of. I’m just looking out for our players and our retired players. Currently players are retiring younger. People don’t understand you can be talking to a 28-year old retired player and a 68-year old retired player. Both are retired but both have different needs. It takes time.

AS: Tell us about your first gradation at your high school.

DB: Words can’t describe it. Coach Dungy asked me if this is what I envisioned. I told him it’s way beyond. I was so humbled watching. It hit me as the students received their degrees: You graduated. You started a high school with your name that kids graduated from. Brooks? It’s humbling. I’m more motivated now. All 16 students are going to college.  It still hasn’t hit me. I understand the magnitude of what has [happened]. All the trips to Africa and elsewhere, but to have a graduating class from your own high school? I’m very humbled to see the process through.

One Response to “Mr. Derrick Brooks Speaks”

  1. Chris Says:

    Class act…He will be sorely missed around these parts as a player. Unfortunately, the business side of the game dictates these scenarios where the face of a franchise has to wear a different jersey to end his career. Numbers 63 & 55 are the absolute cornerstones of this franchise!