Derrick Brooks could be part of a very special Hall of Fame class in five years.
After 14 distinguished seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker is mulling retirement following his release from the franchise he nurtured for so long.
If Brooks decides he has played his final game, he will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 and could be joined by some illustrious company.
Players and coaches must wait five years following retirement before they are considered for induction into the shrine of excellence in Canton, Ohio. If Brooks is on the ballot for 2014, he could find himself in the same class as quarterback Brett Favre and coaches Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren.
As Tampa Bay's representative on the Hall of Fame voting panel, I consider Brooks and Favre sure first-ballot Hall of Famers. Dungy and Holmgren have forged very impressive accomplishments as NFL coaches, but there are hints Holmgren's retirement could be short-lived.
Brooks has been a singular player who defined the position of weakside linebacker for a generation. His unique skills helped Tampa Bay's Cover 2 defense evolve into a dominant scheme that spread throughout the league.
It would be fitting for Brooks and Dungy to walk into the Hall of Fame together. They arrived a year apart in Tampa and, together with Warren Sapp and John Lynch, they quickly established the Bucs as an elite defensive team.
Sapp and Lynch, both eligible for the Class of 2013, could precede Brooks into Canton.
Lynch may face some initial resistance because the safety position has a tendency to be undervalued. Sapp's harsh relationship with the media could impact his chances, but there's little doubt he had a major impact on the game.
Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who just signed a huge contract with the Washington Redskins, isn't in Sapp's class as a disruptive inside presence.
Brooks, Favre, Dungy and Holmgren. Sounds like a law firm. The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 has a chance to be one of a kind.