By Dory LeBlanc
In August, Tampa Bay fans celebrated only the second Bucs player being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Three months later, they found out the possibilty was alive that they may be celebrating not one inductee in 2014, but possibly three. That possibility just became greater.
Thursday evening, the Hall of Fame finalists for this year were announced and included in the 15 men who were narrowed down from 25 are former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and head coach Tony Dungy, who also won Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts.
Brooks spent his entire 14-year career with the Bucs, and quickly cemented himself, not only as a fan favorite, but as the corner stone of the Dungy-led "Tampa 2" Defense. Brooks started 221 of 224 games, registering 1,715 tackles, 25 interceptions, and 13.5 sacks on his way to a franchise-record 10 consecutive Pro Bowls (11 totals), was named an All-Pro nine times, won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, and of course, was instrumental in the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII win.
But moreso, Brooks the man trumped Brooks the player.
The Florida State graduate earned a Bachelor's Degree in three years while earning Academic All-America honors. Brooks went on to earn his master's degree in 1999 - while still playing football at an elite level and servicing his community.
That service in the community garnered Brooks the 2000 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Safety John Lynch and Head Coach Tony Dungy were also named as finalists.
More details on Lynch and Dungy's careers to come shortly...