Bay Area Blues

Marquis Cooper Derrick Brooks

The past week to 10 days have been a difficult one for residents of the Tampa Bay area. Bucs fans that were already reeling from Derrick Brooks getting cut were also hit with ex-Buc Marquis Cooper being lost at sea. Although it is impossible to compare a person being cut with a person’s death, the way the 2 things went down were both senseless.

Cooper’s ordeal became a nationwide story, but it really hit home here. There was round the clock updates on the local news, and you just kept hoping that a miracle was going to happen. And then a miracle happened, if only there were 3 more miracles to come. Cooper lived not too far from us, and the waters he was fishing are waters we have explored. I would have never gone 50 miles offshore in the boat he was in, nor gone offshore at all with the front that was moving into the area. Cooper was a very experienced fisherman and boater, I’m sure he felt confident. Another NFL player, Corey Smith and friend William Beakley were also never found. It’s a sad story and I feel for their families.

Derrick Brooks was told his services were no longer needed after 14 seasons with the Bucs last week. It’s got every loyal Bucs fan up in arms, asking why? All Brooks did was never miss a game in those 14 seasons and made 11 Pro Bowls. All Pro 9 times, Defensive player of the year, and first ballot Hall of Famer. Oh yeah, he’s a pretty good guy off the field as well. He was the 2000 Walter Payton Man of the Year, which honors a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Brooks also founded the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa, a school founded on the belief that, given the necessary resources and opportunities, every child has the potential to realize his/her dreams.

Fans are livid, it reminds me of when the Skins cut Art Monk. My uncle Mo a lifelong Skins fan, swore he would never root for the Skins again. 15 years later, he’s a Cowboy’s fan sticking to his word. I’ve seen countless fans interviewed stating the same thing, wherever Brooks lands is whom they will root for. Now, even the most loyal Brooks fan knows that he has lost a step (or two.) So it’s not necessarily the cutting of Brooks, it’s how it went down. They told him in the AM they were cutting him, and released it to the media in the afternoon. Why the big rush? They were $40 million dollars under the salary cap at the time. So there was no immediate need to cut salary to sign a free agent. They could have allowed Brooks to quietly talk with other teams to see what his market value may be. If there wasn’t a market, they could have scheduled a press conference for him to announce his retirement with dignity as a member of the Bucs. Instead, Brooks was forced to conduct an interview at the Bucs headquarters wearing a powder blue jumpsuit and requested that no Bucs logos be present. In true Derrick Brook’s style, he said all the right things.

To date the biggest player the Bucs have brought in the offseason is Kellen Winslow. A player that is the exact opposite of Derrick Brooks on and off the field. At this point I have to seriously question the new regime in Tampa Bay.

Cheers and Hail

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