Greatest Buccaneers: No. 1

My series of the top five players in Tampa Bay history wraps up with No. 1.

By now, it’s no secret that spot is filled by Derrick Brooks.

I also gave Warren Sapp and Lee Roy Selmon, two Hall of Famers, strong consideration for the top spot. Neither of those would have been bad choices. But, in the end, I decided Brooks was the best player in franchise history.

My logic was that Brooks was the most instrumental player in turning the Buccaneers from a laughingstock to a regular playoff contender and, eventually, a Super Bowl champion. Sapp also had plenty to do with that, but I gave the nod to Brooks for several reasons.

Brooks had the longer career in Tampa Bay. He also had more of an impact off the field – and still does. Off-field things don’t count in Hall of Fame voting, but they do in my top five.

Brooks was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2000. He also was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.

Brooks was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in February. He’ll be inducted in August. His resume speaks for itself, but it should include one final line.

Brooks was the best player in Tampa Bay history.