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Former Buccaneers LB Brooks: 'Teams are talking to me'

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Free agent Derrick Brooks said Wednesday he plans to play in the NFL this fall and possibly even return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team he led to a Super Bowl victory.

The NFL Defensive Player of the Year when Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, Brooks was among five players the Buccaneers cut in a February purge that included his former Florida State teammate, Warrick Dunn.

"I could still be a Buccaneer," Brooks said. "Stranger things that have happened. Teams are talking to me so I'm going to make sure I continue to stay in shape."

Although he turned 36 in April, Brooks said he's still in top physical condition.

One of only four players voted to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls, Brooks also has been a standout off the field. He was the co-winner of the 2000 NFL Man of the Year award, given to the player who combines skill on the field with good work off it.

A member of the board of trustees at Florida State, the Pensacola native was in Tallahassee on Wednesday for a meeting on a three-year budget for the school.

And while he looked more the part of a businessman, his desire to get back into pads and a helmet was evident.

"My play speaks for itself," said Brooks, who had 73 tackles last season with a season high 10 in a midseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs. "I've always taken that approach."

Brooks, who is two tackles short of 1,700 in his NFL career, believes he's still among the most productive linebackers in the league.

And if that call from the NFL doesn't come?

"I'll do the best to prepare for that," Brooks said. "My plan is to play but if God plans for me not to play, then I'm ready to accept that too."

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