O'HARA: Van Noy admires Derrick Brooks' ability

Posted Jul 23, 2014

Growing up, Lions rookie Kyle Van Noy looked up to Derrick Brooks and his versatility at linebacker.

Derrick Brooks is about to experience the ultimate honor for a player with his impending induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he still appreciates young players such as Lions rookie Kyle Van Noy recognizing Brooks’ all-around excellence playing weakside linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Van Noy mentioned Brooks as a linebacker he admired in his interview with the media in May after the Lions drafted him in the second round.

“He was the person I watched growing up,” Van Noy said at the time. “That whole team, they just played the right way, and he’s a good person on and off the field. I respect him a lot.

“Just the way he went about his business. He played hard, he played the right way, he was very smart -- just every characteristic you want in a linebacker. He did it all. He was able to play coverage, he was able to rush the passer, he was able to play heavy in the run. So he’s just an all-around great player, and that’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame.”

Kyle Van NoyLB Kyle Van Noy (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Brooks would be a good model for any young linebacker, not just Van Noy. His career could not be judged by quarterback sacks, which have come to be the primary category by which this generation of linebackers are rated.

Brooks had only 13.5 career sacks, which is six fewer than the 19.5 outside linebacker Robert Mathis of the Chargers had to lead the NFL last season.

Brooks was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility because of his overall play. He covered the entire field, as his statistics indicate -- 25 career interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, five seasons with more than 100 tackles, and seven career touchdowns.

In a conference-call interview on Monday, Brooks expressed his appreciation for the recognition he has gotten, including the comments made by Van Noy.

“It feels great,” Brooks said. “It’s a testament that I could play in any situation, any down on the football field. I could do whatever our defense asked me to do.  I was asked to cover more . . . so I covered more.

“I think my game is such that I excelled in a lot of areas.”