(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Derrick Brooks interview please click on the attached audio: Ep 20: A Conversation With Pro Football HOFer Derrick Brooks | The Eye Test for Two | Spreaker)
Derrick Brooks is a Hall-of-Famer linebacker who spent his entire NFL career – all 14 years – with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he’s moved on, and now he’s co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee.
Which puts him in an awkward position.
As a lifelong Florida resident and former Bucs’ star he admits he can’t be neutral for Super Bowl LV. Surprise, surprise: He’s picking the Bucs.
“I’m picking them for all the right reasons,” he said on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast. “My own safety.”
But as co-chair of the Tampa Super Bowl LV Host Committee, he’s rooting for the NFL. Which means he wants the best, fairest, and most competitive game – with no advantages to either side. Considering that the game is in Raymond James Stadium – home of the Bucs – that might be difficult. But that doesn’t mean the host committee won’t try to do what it can to enforce neutrality.
“One thing the Bucs will be losing: I doubt that they’ll let the Bucs fire their cannons if they’re scoring,” said Brooks. “We’ve started to discuss some of these things that I can’t disclose right now, trying to make this as neutral as possible. (But) if there’s going to be unchartered territory, why not this year with everything else that’s going on? So we are trying to make this as neutral as possible.”
Wait a minute. Let’s back up. No cannons following Bucs’ scores? Say it ain’t so.
“They may fire them, but it won’t be after a traditional touchdown score,” said Brooks. “So they’ve got to find out another way to use the cannon.”
Yeesh, there goes one home-field advantage. Then there are the fans themselves. Instead of a packed house, the NFL will allow no more than 22,000 spectators, with 7,500 of them vaccinated health-care workers. That leaves 14,500 to holler for either side, and consider that strike number two.
“But to be honest with you,” said Brooks, “it’s going to be a Buccaneer home game, no matter how you slice it because there are going to be a lot of fans. Now, for the Chiefs, the advantage of them playing here already again (a 27-24 win in November) is an advantage to them. So I don’t know how much of an advantage it’s going to be. But, for the most part, the Bucs are going to like to think it’s going to be an advantage.”
They may like to think it. But without the usual crowd noise … without the cannons … without the Chiefs arriving until two days before the Super Bowl … how much of a home-field advantage is it for the Bucs? Answer: Not much. Yes, they don’t have to travel. Yes, they get to practice at their own site. Yes, they know the field and its danger zones, if there are any. But look where all that got Green Bay a week ago.
“Even for the Chiefs,” said Brooks, “normally they would have to come in early and spend time (here). So it’s going to be business as usual for them. They’re going to spend the next two weeks at home, sleeping in their own beds, treating it like a typical road game.
“So that’s why I say some of the things you would typically say (is an) advantage when history is going to be made for the home team, none of those things are going to apply from some of the operational standpoints. We’re trying to do the best we can from a host committee standpoint to make it as neutral as possible.”