Time for tearful goodbyes in Tampa Bay

It’s almost time to say goodbye in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers know they will bid adieu to their venerable defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, and also could say so long to their veteran Pro Bowl linebacker, Derrick Brooks.

It’s not an easy time for anyone in Tampa, particularly Bucs coach Jon Gruden, who has fond memories of each man.

Kiffin is leaving Tampa Bay to join his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee, and no veteran is assured of returning in this salary-cap world.

About Kiffin, Gruden said: “He’s a night owl, you know. I’ve got a lot of great memories of him, and I get choked up talking about it because I’m going to miss him. He’s my friend. I remember at One Buc Place, when I first got here, I was a three o’clock in the morning guy and he was a one o’clock in the morning, late-night guy.

“I remember one time coming into work and going into my office, wherever it was, having a hard time finding it. Dark as heck in the hallway, and I heard some sounds — it was Monte Kiffin, almost knocked me over walking to the bathroom, waking up in the middle of the night. He’s put countless hours into his football. I love the guy. I love him and thank him and wish him the very, very best.”

About Brooks, Gruden said: “Derrick Brooks has the rare ability to process information in seconds. He can call out … if he sees a backfield set or if he senses a situation, he has tremendous retention for the things that he studied and learned during the week. He’s as smart a football player as I’ve ever seen. His instincts and that football savvy have allowed him to have great success. But I think the most impressive thing about Derrick Brooks is he ain’t ever changed.

“With all the success, we’ve had some ups and downs, and he has never changed. He’s been here at six o’clock in the morning in the offseason, he’s put forth the work, he’s been a tremendous leader and he’s very special.”

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