Aaron Brooks (American football)
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Brooks passing against the Chicago Bears in 2005
|Date of birth:March 24, 1976|
|Place of birth: Newport News, Virginia|
|High school: Newport News (VA) Ferguson|
|NFL Draft: 1999 / Round: 4 / Pick: 131|
|Debuted in 2000 for the New Orleans Saints|
|Last played in 2006 for the Oakland Raiders|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Aaron Lafette Brooks (born March 24, 1976) is a retired American football quarterback of the NFL. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He played college football at Virginia.
Brooks played for the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders. Brooks retired in 2007 as the Saints' franchise leader in season and career touchdown passes, though both records have since been broken by Drew Brees.
Early years 
Brooks lived in a public housing project in the East End area of Newport News. Mentored by Coach Tommy Reamon, Brooks played high school football and graduated from Homer L. Ferguson High School in Newport News. He was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Virginia (UVA), from which he graduated in 1999.
College career 
Brooks enrolled at the University of Virginia in the fall of 1994 and was a redshirt as a true freshman. He was a back-up to Mike Groh in 1995. He competed with fifth year senior Tim Sherman, whose father Tom was wide receivers coach, for the starting quarterback job in 1996. The Cavaliers were returning defensive players such as Jamie Sharper, James Farrior, and Ronde Barber. The offense was led by running back Tiki Barber. The coaching staff made Sherman, who had played well against Michigan and Virginia Tech in 1995 after starter Mike Groh went down to injury, the primary quarterback instead of the inexperienced Brooks. Nonetheless, Brooks received playing time in nearly all games and was the primary quarterback in a few. Inconsistent quarterback play by both Brooks and Sherman led to an underachieving season, and Virginia fans to this day still debate the quarterback play of the 1996 season.
Brooks was the starter in 1997. Both Brooks and the team struggled in the early part of the season but surged late to finish 7-4. The Cavaliers, however, were not invited to a bowl game. In 1998, the team got off to a strong start and was briefly in the top ten. The highlight of the year, and Brooks' career, was the season finale at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers were down 29-7 at halftime, but Brooks led the biggest comeback in school history in the 36-32 victory. The final regular season record was 9-2. The Cavaliers lost 35-33 to Georgia at the Peach Bowl.
Professional career 
Green Bay Packers 
New Orleans Saints 
For Brooks, the high point in his career with the Saints came very early. In the 2000 season, his first with the franchise, Brooks took over as starting quarterback after Jeff Blake was knocked out with a broken foot in the team's 11th game. In his first NFL start, Brooks led the Saints to a 31-24 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams on the road, becoming the first QB in NFL history to accomplish that feat (defeating the previous year's Super Bowl winner on the road in first career NFL start). Brooks led the team to a 3-2 record in his 5 starts, and an overall 10-6 record (improving on their 3-13 record of 1999), winning the NFC West championship. Brooks threw nine touchdowns and six interceptions in eight games and five starts in the regular season for an 85.7 quarterback rating. In the playoffs, the Saints defeated the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, 31-28. The Saints were without their star running back (Ricky Williams) and lost their best receiver (Joe Horn) early in the game, but Brooks threw four touchdown passes to lead the Saints to their first playoff win in franchise history, becoming the first QB in NFL history to eliminate the defending Super Bowl champions in his first career postseason start. The Saints then went on to lose to the Minnesota Vikings, 34-16, to end their season with an overall 11-7 record.
In 2001, the Saints only went 7-9, ending with a four game losing streak. In these last four games of the season with Brooks at the helm, the Saints would be outscored by more than 100 points, 160-52. Although Brooks did manage to throw a then franchise record tying 26 touchdowns and an overall career best 3,832 passing yards in his first full season as a starting quarterback, his consistency came into question as he also threw for a still standing franchise record 22 interceptions until recently matched by Drew Brees in the 2010 season.
In 2002, Brooks helped lead the Saints to a 6-2 record and guided an offense that averaged 32 points a game through the first half of the season before the team imploded in the second half. The Saints proceeded to go to a pedestrian 3-5 to finish the season. During that stretch, at 9-4, their last three games were against the Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers, all long since eliminated from playoff contention. With only one victory out of those three games required to reach the postseason, the Saints gave up a touchdown and two point conversion to lose at home to Minnesota, were unable to stop the 1-13 Bengals' running game led by fullback Nick Luchey, and lost against Carolina, by only scoring two field goals in the Louisiana Super Dome in a 6-10 loss.
In the 6-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Brooks was berated by the sellout crowd in the Louisiana Superdome as the home fans chanted, "We Want Jake" (in reference to backup QB Jake Delhomme) and they also booed him during pre-game introductions as the Saints fans became the 12th man of the Panthers' defense. During the season, Brooks would become injured during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Louisiana Superdome. Delhomme had come at the end of the fourth quarter to secure the win by throwing a 3rd down completion to Saint wide receiver Joe Horn to run out the clock with kneel downs and end the game. The win completed a sweep of the to be Super Bowl champions and gained the Saints seemingly full control of the NFC South. Both Brooks and the coaching staff were reluctant to replace Brooks afterwards, who was obviously hurting. His passing soon became erratic and sluggish after the game. On fourth down during the last play of the Cincinnati loss, Brooks threw an errant pass out of bounds to avoid an interception. To the dismay of fans, the team announced during the off-season that Brooks would indeed need shoulder surgery. To add salt to the wound, Delhomme signed with the Panthers in the off-season and led the team to the Super Bowl the following year, coming up just short to the New England Patriots. Not all was terrible for Brooks, as he himself threw for a then franchise record 27 touchdowns, superseding his previous career high of 26 just the year before.
2003 was statistically Brooks' most efficient year as a passer, as he compiled an 88.8 Quarterback Rating, a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio (24 touchdowns to eight interceptions), and a 59.1 percent completion percentage, all career bests. 2003 was also the year that Brooks threw the famous "cell phone" touchdown to Joe Horn in which Horn put a cell phone under a goal post. Horn earned a $30,000 fine for his antics. However, things only got worse for Brooks and the Saints the following week after a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. A close game came down to the Saints executing a five lateral play started by a Brooks pass, dubbed the "River City Relay." The joy was short lived however, as kicker John Carney missed the subsequent extra point that would have sent the game into overtime. (However, the wild card team that had to lose for the Saints to win and get into the playoffs won, so it was moot regardless), and another Saints season had ended without a playoff appearance.
In 2004, after a 4-8 start, Brooks led the Saints on a four game winning streak to finish the season, reaching the brink of the playoffs, but tiebreakers involving the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings did the Saints in. Brooks, though, was key to two of their victories in the four game winning streak, converting a key 4th and 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through a 13-yard (12 m) scramble to keep the game winning touchdown drive alive, and also by posting a 102.1 Quarterback Rating and no interceptions against the Carolina Panthers at the end of the season. Overall as a passer, Brooks regressed, as he threw for twice as many interceptions as the year before with 16. This would also be the final year Brooks would throw for more than 3,000 yards (2,700 m), at 3,810.
On December 13, 2005, after a loss on national television to the Falcons, the Saints benched Brooks and announced Todd Bouman as the team's starter for the last three games of the season. It was truly an abysmal year for the quarterback as he threw for more interceptions, 17, as he did touchdowns, 13, for the first time in his career. This year ended Brooks' career as a starter for the Saints.
In New Orleans, Brooks became one of the NFL's leaders in game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime with 16 (behind only Tom Brady), including five in 2004. Brooks took over as the starter in 2000 in relief of the injured Jeff Blake in Week 11 (vs. Oakland), he started the following week and took every starting snap until the last month of the 2005 season, when he was benched. Brooks played in 72 regular-season games with the Saints, including starting the last 69 contests. His 441 passing yards vs. Denver was the highest single-game total in franchise history until Drew Brees surpassed it while throwing for 510 yds on November 19, 2006. Brooks also has the distinction of being the only Saints quarterback to rush for over 100 yds in a contest (108 vs. San Francisco). In 2004, Brooks set club marks for attempts (60) and completions (34) in a contest.
Oakland Raiders 
After being released by the Saints, Brooks was signed by the Oakland Raiders on March 22, 2006. He was the starter going into training camp. In his first regular season game as a Raider, he was sacked 9 times by the San Diego Chargers in a 27-0 loss. Brooks dislocated his shoulder in his second game against the Baltimore Ravens and missed the next several weeks. Second-year quarterback Andrew Walter started the next seven games for Oakland. After a 2-5 record over that span, a healthy Brooks was placed back into the starter's role. Despite slightly improved play, Brooks was unable to lead the defensive Raiders to very much success finishing with a league worst 2-14 record. Brooks also went on to have a career low 61.7 quarterback rating, and again threw more interceptions, eight, than touchdowns, three.
On February 22, 2007 Brooks was released by the Raiders, when they did not pick up his option.
Football Nation ranked Brooks the 88th best NFL quarterback since the merger.
Post-playing career 
Following his retirement from pro football in 2007, Brooks announced plans to be a land developer.
In the summer of 2008, work began on his first project to be underway, Burlington Woods, an upscale subdivision located on 17 acres (69,000 m2) in James City County, Virginia. Burlington Woods will consist of 26 lots that will be 1⁄4-acre (1,000 m2) to 1⁄3-acre (1,300 m2). The four to five bedroom homes are expected to be from 2,000 square feet (190 m2) to 4,500 square feet (420 m2) in size. Brooks said he will oversee the project through its completion, but Ryan Homes will take over the construction phase once the individual lots are prepped.
Earlier in 2008, he announced plans to invest in Southeast Commerce Center, a redevelopment project in his hometown of Newport News. In a July 2008 interview, Brooks described plans to redevelop part of downtown Newport News, a city that shares many of the same social problems as New Orleans. The multimillion-dollar investment would be a mixed-use development between Jefferson and Terminal avenues and 33rd and 29th streets in the economically depressed East End area., including 190 town houses, a grocery store and retail offerings. Vice Mayor Charles Allen, who has represented the district for 16 years on the Newport News City Council, said that it was "significant that one of our own has taken his resources and other resources to show us that we can do it. It's a good day. It's a good day for our community." Brooks commented, "It's a great opportunity to give back to the community and at the same time let retailers know we don't just have the stigma of being 'bad news,' ... a lot of hard-working, middle-class people that live in the area. I'm just trying to make the area better for them." As of August 2010, the project had not commenced, but was reported to be back on track after negotiations between Brooks and the city council.
See also 
- David Fleming, "Second Act", ESPN The Magazine, June 25, 2001.
- "Tom Sherman Biography - University of Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site - VirginiaSports.com". Admin.xosn.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- "The Stark Fist of Sarcasm". Electric-mayhem.net. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- "Saints use aerial attack to knock off Rams 31-28", AP at SI.com, December 30, 2000.
- Jennifer Armstrong, The Times-Picayune. "Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks has arm, will travel | NOLA.com". Blog.nola.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- "Topic Galleries". dailypress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Joe Lawlor, "Development headed by ex-NFL QB Aaron Brooks back on track in Newport News", Newport News Daily Press, August 25, 2010.
- Jason Wilde, "'Brothers' in arms: The Packers face Saints QB Aaron Brooks, one week after seeing his cousin Michael Vick." Wisconsin State Journal, September 12, 2002 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- George Henry, "Cousins Vick, Brooks excited to meet on field", Associated Press in Deseret News, October 21, 2001.