EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Linebacker Keith Brooking hasn’t made a decision about retirement, but he’s realistic enough to know that the choice could be made for him.
“This doesn’t feel like my last game,” Brooking said after the Cowboys’ season ended. “But I’ll be 37 next year. I’m sure people will be just knocking down my door to sign me.”
Brooking, a five-time Pro Bowler with the Atlanta Falcons, punctuated that thought with a frustrated, self-effacing laugh.
Sean Lee’s emergence as a star bumped Brooking into a reserve role this season, the first time since his rookie year in 1998 that he hadn’t been a starter. His three-year deal with the Cowboys is up, as is Bradie James’ contract, and a replacement is waiting in the wings in second-round pick Bruce Carter.
“I feel like I can play and we’ll see how that goes,” Brooking said. “I had a great time here. Obviously, we didn’t finish, we didn’t do what I thought we could do as a football team, but I love these teammates and they mean a lot to me. I met some really good guys here, some friends that hopefully I’ll talk to for a very long time, and I can’t thank the Jones family enough for bringing me here and allowing me to be part of this unbelievable franchise.
“I just wish we could have finished the deal, but we couldn’t do it.”