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Thread: Brooks Battling Back
Brooks Battling Back
Monday, August 14, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
Like many NFL journeymen, Jamal Brooks has often been a victim of numbers. Unlike many players with his history, though, the numbers affecting Brooks haven’t always been the 53 players that would make a roster ahead of him.
Brooks has played and played well in the NFL. While with Dallas in 2001, Brooks played in 16 games with one start on the way to posting 21 tackles, a pass defended and 20 special teams tackles.
With that kind of performance, it would seem that Brooks was well on his way to finding a home. Why, then, does Brooks’ travel resume read more like Gulliver’s than a local icon like receiver Isaac Bruce?
“It never was a situation of that I couldn’t play,” Brooks said. “Coaches tell my agent or other coaches that this kid can play. It was a situation of your role. Some places you might have a role, some places you may not have a role.”
Since 2000, Brooks has spent time with New Orleans, the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe, the Cowboys, Cleveland, the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe and now the Rams.
At each of those stops, Brooks has been released or moved on for a different reason. He started with the Saints in the preseason of 2000, playing for then head coach Jim Haslett. He signed with New Orleans as an undrafted rookie free agent after playing collegiately at Hampton.
Brooks was cut in the preseason by the Saints and decided to sign with the Claymores of NFL Europe. He played there in 2001, racking up 42 tackles, three passes defended and 1.5 sacks. Afterward, he moved to Dallas where it seemed he would finally get his shot.
At 6-2, 238 pounds, Brooks is a perfect fit in any 4-3 defense either was a WIL (weakside) or MIC (middle) linebacker. He had his best season that year with the Cowboys as he worked as the main backup at all three positions. Just when it seemed Brooks had found his niche as a backup and special teams dynamo, he fractured his fibula and was put on the Cowboys’ injured reserve list, ending his season.
“Everything was good in Dallas,” Brooks said. “I had an injury that kind of threw me back, but I did well out there.”
By the time he came back, he had lost his spot and was released. Dallas brought him back, but he didn’t last long this time. Brooks was released again and went in search of a team that plays a base 4-3 defense. Dallas was moving toward a 3-4 defense and Brooks didn’t fit as well.
In the offseason, Brooks chose Cleveland where he thought he would be with Butch Davis. Instead, the Browns hired Romeo Crennel, who immediately installed a 3-4 and asked Brooks to gain weight.
“I have played that and played well, but I’m not a typical 3-4 linebacker,” Brooks said. “There’s only so much nickel you can run in a 3-4. So my role there wasn’t exact.”
It would have been easy for Brooks to give up on football at any time during his travels. But that isn’t the type of player or person he is.
He continued to work and got back into shape. Kurt Gouveia, who coached Brooks in Berlin, came to the Rams last year to help out after former linebackers coach Joe Vitt took over head coaching duties.
Soon after, the Rams were plagued by injuries, especially to the linebacking corps. Gouveia began stumping for Brooks to be brought in, but he wasn’t signed until after the Rams made their coaching change and brought Haslett in.
“I am still playing ball so I have to have some type of talent,” Brooks said. “It’s not a situation where, some might people might get down on themselves, (but) I have a degree, I can work, I am smart with my money. So it’s like hey, stay in shape, if you get a shot, you get a shot. It gets to a point where it’s like hey, you are either going to do this or you are not going to do this.”
If nothing else, Brooks’ trials and tribulations have taught him the value of a dollar. He has never been a 16-game player or starter and he has never been to a Pro Bowl. But he isn’t afraid to lean on his business management degree from Hampton.
That degree has come in handy as Brooks has invested his money wisely and is the owner of Brooks and Associates, a real estate business in Greensboro, N.C.
Brooks and his company take some homes, renovate them and sell them at a profit and take others and rent them out. He is currently working on his MBA and doing his best to take care of the money he has.
“I am being smart with my money, that’s the most important thing,” Brooks said. “Everybody can’t make $10 million a year. You have to be smart with what you make.”
Brooks might not be making the big bucks, but he has an excellent shot at earning a nice living this season. Following the release of Trev Faulk just before training camp, Brooks has moved into a backup middle linebacker role.
He played with the second team defense at that spot in the preseason opener and has been there for most of the training camp practices. It’s unclear whether he has that job nailed down or if Brandon Chillar would move into the middle should something happen to starter Will Witherspoon.
Regardless, Brooks believes he can not only make the roster, but contribute this season.
“I look at it like if I do what I have to do regardless of if I make it or not, that’s always been my thing,” Brooks said. “Play well and nobody can say he didn’t make because he can’t play. I might not make it because of numbers or because of other things like fitting the scheme. Honestly, I think I have a challenge that if I play my game, I can not just make the team, but be a factor on the team.”
As Brooks closes in on another crack at the NFL, he has taken what he’s learned in his many travels and applied it to how he goes about his business on a daily basis.
“I guess it puts everything into perspective,” Brooks said. “It makes everything, every practice, every game, every play; you want to be your best. When you are young you are not understanding (of how things work). I have lasted longer than some people that I know that are draft picks. Yeah, I might not have started 16 games in a season or 48 games straight, but I am still playing football and doing something that I love.”
Re: Brooks Battling Back
Brooks looked good vs the Colts, hopefully he can continue his good play in the preseason games that are coming up. Besides his talent he's hungry and that's what we need.......desire.
Re: Brooks Battling Back
We can always use a solid backup. I liked what I saw on Thurs.JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey
Re: Brooks Battling Back
There are a lot of players with the talent to play in the NFl but did not catch on with theright team and the lack of desire (or funding) to keep trying until they realized their dream.
Then we see other players who are borderline and last only a season or 2.. sometimes on the practice squad(s).