Injuries in football have brought about the end of many athletes careers. Many times, the athlete had the talent and ability to be a productive player, but just got unlucky — Ron Brooks was one of those athletes.
Brooks was a standout athlete in high school, playing quarterback at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, and was the District 7-5A MVP his senior year. He was a sought after recruit, receiving offers from LSU, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Brooks ultimately chose LSU, switching to the defensive side of the ball, amassing 90 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and three interceptions all returned for touchdowns in four years as a Tiger cornerback.
Brooks was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, and the injury bug bit early. Brooks suffered a broken bone in his foot in the Bills final preseason game. He returned later in the season and played well in his first career start, but would not get a chance to be a regular starter in his four years with the Bills.
Brooks signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. In his first seven games as an Eagle, Brooks performed well as the starting nickel corner, allowing just one reception every 12.2 coverage snaps per Pro Football Focus.
But the bug was back, and this time it ended his season as well as his tenure with the Eagles. A ruptured tendon in Week 7 and then a hamstring injury in the following season’s first preseason game was the final nail in the coffin.
But then it wasn’t.
On March 20, 2018, the Alliance of American Football was announced and with it, a glimmer of hope for players like Brooks to have an opportunity to show NFL teams they still have what it takes to play in the league. Brooks got the call from the San Diego Fleet, and thus his comeback began.
“It’s fun playing down [in San Diego] to be honest playing good ball, playing good competition, there’s a lot of guys that are hungry and playing with that energy, it’s just like playing backyard football again,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t feel like business down here as much as the NFL does.”
In short order, Brooks became the first player in AAF history to return a punt for a touchdown in Week 4 when he returned a 57-yarder against the Memphis Express, a team that features a few of Brooks’ former LSU teammates.
“It was great to see some of the guys, Anthony (Freak) Johnson, (Big) Sam Montgomery, Terrence Magee … that was a special locker room in 2011 and it’s always good to talk them,” Brooks said.
Through five games, Brooks has nine solo tackles, one interception and two passes defended. He came out strong in the season opener against the San Antonio Commanders with three tackles, two passes defended and an interception.
If Brooks can continue to play injury-free, there isn’t a question of whether he has the talent, but whether an NFL team will be willing to take a chance on him. While he’s 30 years old, Brooks has shown this season that he can still play at a high level, and the ultimate goal for his career still hasn’t changed since he first picked up a football.
“I just want to get back to the league and win games, and ultimately win a championship,” Brooks said. “It really doesn’t matter to me which team I go to, I just want to win.”