This was supposed to be the best offseason of Ahmad Brooks’ five-year NFL career. Career-wise, that statement held true to form, but it was not the case on a personal level. All it took was one devastating tragedy to remind Brooks that there’s more to life than just the game of football.
When the 49ers outside linebacker entered free agency this offseason as a restricted free agent, he was optimistic about signing a contract that would give him the stability that every NFL player seeks. Instead of finding that comfort right away, Brooks found out his father Perry had passed away on the first of March.
“It’s my father man, my dad, for 26 years he raised me, from the time I was a little boy until now. With him passing away, I was just heartbroken,” Brooks said after a recent workout at team headquarters.
Perry, 55, was no stranger to the NFL himself. He played eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and won two Super Bowl rings. He was also extremely influential in Ahmad’s football career, dedicating a lot of time to see his son play.
With his father’s legacy and influence still firmly planted in his mind, Ahmad has chosen to dedicate his career in the memory of his father.
“He’ll always be in my heart. He’ll always be in my memory. I know this is what he’d want me to do.”
As difficult as it was for Brooks to say goodbye to his father, he decided to reunite with his other family nearly a month later, by signing a two-year contract to remain with the team that signed him before the start of the 2008 season.
“It’s always good to see your teammates,” Brooks said. “This is my family. This is my home. This is where I want to be. This is where I’d like to end my career, to tell you the truth. I’d rather be here than anywhere else. California is beautiful weather, we have a great coaching staff, a great organization and we have great players. Everything is first-class, and I like that.”
Now that the free agency period is over, a relief for Brooks, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound pass rush specialist can focus on building off his 2009 season in which he posted a career-high six sacks.
“Signing last week gives me a chance to actually settle in and just get back to work,” Brooks said. “When you’re in the free agency market, you really don’t know where you’re going to be or for how long. I’m just thankful that I was able to sign a two-year contract and keep building on what we accomplished last year.”
With Perry’s spirit infused in what has already proven to be a relentless pass rusher, Ahmad will continue to be a valuable asset to the 49ers defense.
It just might be his best season on the field yet.
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