Dynasty Step 2

April 23rd, 2020

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Where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?

Ah yes, we were at the scene of the 1995 draft, ushering in a pair of Hall of Famers who would define the swagger and domination of the Tampa 2 defense.

While Warren Sapp was sweating it out in the Big Apple, Derrick Brooks was holed up at his grandmother’s house in his native Pensacola.

“I never really talked to the Bucs prior to them drafting me,” Brooks recalls. “I had a very quick meeting with them at the Super Bowl with Jerry Angelo and Tim Ruskell, no more than 10 minutes. I came away thinking they knew a lot about me.”

Ira Kaufman talks to Rich McKay and others part of the Tampa Bay’s historic draft 25 years ago.

As usual, Brooks’ instincts were correct.

“Derrick played so well at FSU,” says Ruskell. “Before the draft, we didn’t want to overdo it with him and tip our hand. We played it very close to the vest. He didn’t want to play safety in the NFL and It was not a big issue for us where to play him. We had a hell of a grade on him — the guy made every play. He was a once-in-a-lifetime player.”

In a deal that sent two second-round picks to Dallas, the Bucs vaulted back into the opening round at No. 28 and selected arguably the best player in franchise history.

“There were no indications at all that I was on Tampa’s radar,” Brooks says, “I heard Chris Berman say my name before the Bucs even called me. The phone rang and it was Sam Wyche.”

Sapp started only eight games as a rookie, finishing with three sacks. Brooks made the all-rookie team in 1995 as the Bucs went 7-9, despite a 5-2 start. Wyche was fired and an elite defense was born under the tutelage of Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin.

“As a rookie, Warren wasn’t getting along great with the head coach and his position coach,” Ruskell says. “With Derrick, the coaches were using him situationally. Our scouts were pulling out their hair. It wasn’t until Tony’s group came in that we all saw what made us draft those two.”

Sapp and Brooks. Brooks and Sapp. A quarter-century ago, they formed a professional bond that has only grown through the years. They were roommates on the road and together, they took the leadership mantle from Hardy Nickerson and led a franchise out of the darkness.

In 2013, when Sapp learned he was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he broke down during a long embrace with Brooks in New Orleans. “You’re next, you’re next,” he said to Brooks in between sobs.

Gold Jacket since 2014

A year later, Brooks joined his NFL brother in Canton, where their busts face each other.

“For me, many times in many moments you have an immediate reaction and it turns out not to be accurate,” says McKay, who presided over nine Buc drafts. “With Warren, it was obvious he was very smart, very quick. You’re not used to guys being that boastful and you knew he was going to be a handful, but all the right things were important to him. Warren wanted to win and when he got to Tampa, he wasn’t going to put up with the losing anymore.

“Derrick fit into our new emphasis on production, not potential. The Bucs had a history of drafting tall, long and fast prospects. Boy, were they athletic … and they couldn’t play. Derrick Brooks was just a great football player. We knew we needed a trade up to get him and we knew we needed ammunition to get there.”

It all worked out for the Tampa Bay brain trust on a fateful Saturday to cherish and remember. It was the start of something big.

“In 1995, I remember when the draft was over on that Sunday night and I was sitting outside One Buc on the patio,” McKay says. “Tim had a big Beta machine out there and we kept watching tape of Warren and Derrick. At one point during the conversation, we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘This might be the moment this franchise turns.’ ”

Ira with his good friend Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford, Tampa’s first family of Ford. Sean will help you personally in any way he can. It’s the Bill Currie way. Click Ira’s nose to visit BillCurrieFord.com.

13 Responses to “Dynasty Step 2”

  1. Kansas95Buc Says:

    I’ll never get tired of hearing this story and the Chargers game when Sapp got pissed. Working across from the old Chargers stadium gives me chills to this day.

  2. Swampbuc Says:

    Rich McKay, the most overrated turncoat in franchise history. What a buffoon.

  3. Sport Says:

    McKay had his moments. However, being able to conduct business with integrity was lost forever during the bid process for the Bucs.

    In a sealed bid process, he opened the bids and shared it with guess who? The new and current owners! Scum Bag Move!

    No Scruples.

    In BA I Trust!

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Swampbuc Says
    “Rich McKay, the most overrated turncoat in franchise history. What a buffoon.”

    I agree 100%!!!!

    The man buried us in cap issues, then when he knew it would take years to fix, he went to a competitor.

    At least Jason Licht stuck around and fixed his cap issues…within a season.

  5. miken Says:

    How about the Bucs with Sapp on the board and traded down to aquire more picks that eventually landed Brooks. BillBelicheck past on Sappand took a trade with the 49ers, The Jets took Brady TE and the Eagles took workout warrior Mike Mamula… just an amazing day. Jerry angelo and Ruskell should be in the ring of honor. I spoke to Ruskell last year while he built the Appolos and he said Jerry’s idea to get them both! He said Bill with the browns was their top concern but thankfully the 49ers wanted the next jerry rice in JJ stokes.

  6. Darin Says:

    Went to every home game those 2 played. Also all the ones before they arrived. Fair to say they upped the excitement. Now someone get Hardy Nickerson in the Ring!

  7. D-Rome Says:

    Yet according to some Derrick Brooks would have been a backup on another team. LOL! What an absurd take!

  8. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    “There were no indications at all that I was on Tampa’s radar,” Derrick Brooks says, “I heard Chris Berman say my name before the Bucs even called me. The phone rang and it was Sam Wyche.”

    It is about time Sam Wyche gets the credit he deserves. People forget that it was Sam Wyche who drafted both Brooks and Sapp!
    Yet, seldom is this ever mentioned.

  9. miken Says:

    @chris… YEP!!!!!!!! I have heard Jon won with Tony’s players, but no one ever says they were sam’s players. He was building something special but didn’t think much of the newly aquired “franchise qb” in Dilfer who wasn’t a franchise qb. He was a great coach and drafted Lynch, Rhett,brooks, Sapp, Chidi and Harold Bishop in the 3rd round…. who was traded a year later for the Alsot pick. Also, identified Hardy as a must sign. It all work out with him being fired , but he was a damn good coach that started the turnaroun and if it wasn’t for him, things could have been very different.

  10. The Coroner Says:

    Rich McKay 💩

  11. FortMyersDave Says:

    Great article. Yeah, a lot of people forget that Brooks and Sapp were taken when 5 dash 2 Sam was still coach. Given what he had to deal with as far as ownership goes (hint, an old lawyer from Bama who had a preference for loud tangerine sport coats) he actually did a good job with what he had. Also not mentioned is how Sapp slipped in the draft all the way down to the Bucs past Philly and a few other teams due to that persistent rumor that he flunked a weed test. Three HOFers in that first round: Brooks, Sapp, Ty Law. Later on Curtis Martin in round 3 and TO was actually a very late end of draft kind of pick. Not a shabby job by the men in creamsicle back in 95 and you have to say the core of the D started a couple of years earlier when Hardy Nickerson bought in and signed to play for Wyche. RIP Coach Wyche.

  12. Jack Karako Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai – you know that Licht did not follow McKay right?

    At least Jason Licht stuck around and fixed his cap issues…within a season.

    Mark Dominik served as GM 2009-2013.

  13. FortMyersDave Says:

    McKay was run out of One Buc by Gruden. Clash of egos it was inevitable and Malcolm sided with Chuckie. The only prob was the timing, letting him go to the ATL with the Bucs at 7-7 and clinging to playoff hopes and then losing a heart breaker to fall out of contention. McKay should have been made to wait, just like Monte should have been gag ordered until after the 2008 season ended to run his pie hole about going to Knoxville to help his son run the Big Orange into the ground…