[Note by Grizz]: I thought this would be a good time to circle back around to discuss our new free agents, now that we know our draft. Keith Brooking is spotlighted below by Jim Vance. Brooking was brought here to be the ILB next to Bradie James. Will he be better than Zach Thomas? Will he only play in the base and come off in the nickel/dime sets? Can he still get it done at his age? Read Jim's profile then discuss how Keith Brooking will fare this season. [End Note]
What do we know about the fellow who replaced Zach Thomas at the inside LB spot?
Until this upcoming season with the Cowboys, Keith Brooking will have played his entire football career in the state of Georgia. He was born in Senoia, Georgia (Coweta County / population 1738) on October 30, 1975 and starred on offense and defense at East Coweta High School in Sharpsburg, Georgia.
Brooking was recruited to play for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta where he started 35 straight games. He was voted a permanent team captain by his teammates, holds the school record with 467 career tackles and was a finalist for the Butkus Award for top linebackers in 1997
Brooking was the twelfth overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In his 11 seasons with the Falcons he has established himself as a team leader and a solid citizen. When I look at his stats in Atlanta I see a solid durable player. In his last eight seasons he has played in all 16 games.
It appeared that Brooking and the Falcons had a desire to have him finish out his career in Georgia. He was in the last year of a four year contract and was hoping for an extension. The Falcons reportedly wanted him to take a pay cut, but Brooking had the ability to void the final season of his four-year deal as long as he played in 35 percent of the defensive snaps in any of the first three seasons of the contract. Brooking notified Atlanta of his intention to void the 2009 season in February and got a call from Mr. Jones.
Brooking is now a Cowboy and is not a complete stranger to some of the staff. In 2002 he played under Falcons defensive coordinator Wade Philips - Philips was briefly the interim Atlanta head coach in 2003. No doubt Wade was lobbying hard to add a guy with whom he already had a good working relationship. Joe DeCamillis was Atlanta's special teams coach from 1997 to 2006.
Brooking is another high character guy who serves his community through a foundation started to help foster kids and the agencies that support them. The Keith Brooking Foundation in Atlanta will continue to receive his support.
He and his lovely wife Holly have two children. Georgia's loss is our gain.