Looking Back At Derrick Brooks’ Contract Holdout

August 28th, 2019

The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports

As the Bucs head into Big D, members of Cowboys Nation are fearing the unknown.

The start of the regular season is rapidly approaching and they don’t know when, or if, Ezekiel Elliott will be back on the football field. He’s currently in a contract dispute, working out with Marshall Faulk in Cabo and digging in his cleats.

With Jason Garrett on the last year of his contract, there is an urgency in Dallas to make this season special. Rod Marinelli’s defense looks fierce and the Cowboys are a legitimate Super Bowl threat if Elliott and Jerry Jones can come to terms.

Another premier running back, Melvin Gordon of the Chargers, is also using the only leverage he has — withholding his services. Philip Rivers, who turns 38 in December, is staying out of this conflict but he has to know his championship window is closing fast.

It’s a tough spot for teammates of Elliott and Gordon. I can remember a time in Tampa when Buc players weren’t quite sure how to approach the celebrated holdout of a co-worker who had been named to four consecutive Pro Bowls.

Yes, we’re talking about Derrick Brooks.

In many ways, Brooks was the perfect representative for the franchise, but he had seen quite enough by the summer of 2001. He had been promised a new contract by the organization, but he grew increasingly frustrated as GM Rich McKay found enough money to take care of Keyshawn Johnson, John Lynch and Marcus Jones.

Surely, the Bucs weren’t going to take Brooks, the 2000 co-winner of the Walter Payton Award as the NFL’s Man of the Year, for granted.

So when the Bucs reported on July 29, Brooks was a no-show. It was the last thing he wanted to inflict on Tony Dungy, but he felt it was time to make a stand.

Lakeland Ledger reporter Mike Cobb asked Dungy whether everyone was in camp. One player’s absence was excused, Dungy said.

“Derrick Brooks also isn’t here,” Dungy said.

“Is Brooks excused?”


Stand Your Ground

My Tampa Tribune partner, Roy Cummings, sprinted outside and immediately called Brooks. Smart move.

Brooks answered. Dumb move.

Ira Kaufman has a history lesson for Ezekiel Elliott.

Cummings pried a few quotes out of the future Hall of Famer and wrote up a quick story. No one else in the local media that day had any quotes from No. 55.

This was huge news, particularly for a franchise that didn’t have a history of holdouts from marquee players. How long would Brooks remain out of camp?

The answer was 11 days.

A crowd of more than 5,000 Buc fans greeted Brooks upon his return at the University of Tampa, with Warren Sapp leading the cheers.

“The stalemate is over,” Brooks declared that sultry evening. “As long as everybody’s intentions are to get a deal done, we’ll get a deal done.”

Sapp was overjoyed to have his training camp roommate back in the fold.

“The Bucs had to stand their ground,” Sapp said, “and he had to stand his. They’re going to find a way to make it right. All the great organizations do.”

Brooks had two years left on a deal that would pay him $3.25 million in 2001 and $4.7 million in 2002. Less than two weeks after he returned, Brooks received a new four-year deal that satisfied his demands.

“It’s tough, you hear the stories of guys going through it year in and year out, but until you actually go through it you really can’t describe it,” said Brooks, who went on to play eight more seasons.

Elliott and Gordon have each made their stand, seeking more cash and more respect. What Brooks settled for in 2001 seems like pocket change in this new age.

The dollar signs may be different, but the goal remains the same.

Like John, Paul, George and Ringo once decreed:

The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Now give me money
That’s what I want.

The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports, Ira Kaufman, has been covering the NFL since 1979 — nineteen freakin’ seventy-nine –when he became a New York Giants beat writer and left his beloved cat Oscar alone too often. The Ira Kaufman Podcast has become a national treasure, and you can find Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. during football season. Ira also co-hosts TAMPA TWO with Derrick Brooks on The Identity Tampa Bay, and you can watch Ira on the can’t-miss Tailgate Sunday show on FOX-13. Plus, Ira opines on all things sports on BayNews 9 every Monday at 10:30 p.m.

11 Responses to “Looking Back At Derrick Brooks’ Contract Holdout”

  1. StonedBuc Says:

    Should have aigned kwon and cut david

  2. Johnny Says:

    Are “Rock and Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven” Beatles songs too? Much love to you Ira, great piece!

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    i dont get gordon….decent RB but not in the gurley, zeke or bell class…..zeke deserves to be the highest paid RB in the league but his off field issues will hurt him….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  4. Jean Lafitte Says:

    still sounds like greed

  5. SenileSenior Says:

    C’mon, sage, I know you have been around long enough to remember. The Beatles covered an early Motown hit by Barrett Strong – Money (That’s What I Want). [Barry Gordy and Janie Bradford]

    I’m dating myself even more so.

    Got your point! Good article as usual.

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    “a franchise that didn’t have a history of holdouts from marquee players”…

    Come on, we had Errict Rhett holding out just a few years before this, how he is not on your marquee players list?!?!

    Actually thought, for Melvin Gordon, he might do well to look at Errict Rhett’s career since I think they’re both about the same talent of player. Meaning they’re solid running backs, but were never stars, and poor Gordon seems to think he is a star.

  7. taylor Says:

    We need Trent Williams come on bucs

  8. Frank Pillow Says:

    Uh, Ira, what about the Paul Gruber hold out?!?

  9. orlbucfan Says:

    Johnny Says:
    August 28th, 2019 at 12:23 pm
    Are “Rock and Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven” Beatles songs too? Much love to you Ira, great piece!
    No, they are covers of older songs. “Money” is the best song the Beatles recorded live-on-tape. It’s a cover of an old R and B song by Barrett Strong. Ira is showing his age here. Hurricane season is upon us. BAH! FL east coast watching Dorian.

  10. Rod Munch Says:

    Frank – I had totally forgotten about the Paul Gruber holdout. So reading up on this again I see the Raiders had agreed to a trade with the Bucs for multiple picks including a 1st rounder. I wonder what the entire package would have been? Considering McKay would have been the GM in ’94 when they got those picks, there’s no telling what that could have turned in to. I like Gruber, but it’s possible they’d have drafted another tackle at that spot, probably Tre Johnson or went with a WR, probably Isaac Bruce – plus whatever else they’d have gotten. Tre Johnson was a one time pro bowler but apparently was injured quite a bit, but Issac… Man, if you had Issac, Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott and they didn’t have to spend two 1st’s to get Keyshawn… Then again without Gruber they don’t have a LT and that might have tanked what little offense they did have.

    Anyways, good reminder of something I had completely forgotten about.

  11. Razor Ramone Says:

    Those are both Chuck Berry songs that they covered. The true King of Rock and Roll!