Ahmad Brooks earns his way back

Ahmad Brooks earns his way back
March 1, 2012, 5:50 pm
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Ahmad Brooks has talent. But early in his career, bad decisions kept him from reaching his potential. As a sophomore at the University of Virginia, Brooks was one of three finalists for the prestigious Butkus Award, an honor granted to college footballs best linebacker. A season later, coaches kicked him off the team. His college career done, Brooks entered the NFLs supplemental draft. Cincinnati took him in the third round. But in his two seasons with the Bengals, Brooks drew more attention for a womans accusation that he hit her than for anything he did on the field. The Bengals released him before the 2008 season.
I went through some adversity, Brooks said. I guess Im like a walking example right now as far as that.But Brooks self-destructive ways are in the past. In his four years with the 49ers he has only had to deal with the trouble of injuries. Brooks says, no doubt, hes matured. He is two weeks away from turning 28, was recently baptized and after receiving a new six-year, 44.5 million contract, Brooks wants to make sure his experience serves as an example to kids.
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Not to give up on your dream. Not to give up regardless of whats going on in your life, Brooks explained to me a day after his new deal was announced. When you wake up in the morning and you got a new day, a fresh start to be productive, better yourself as a person and be making the right decisions.
Brooks plans to tell kids his story and message at camps and wherever else he can. He never started more than one game in his first three years with the 49ers. But when Jim Harbaugh became the head coach, Brooks says he looked at it as yet another chance for that fresh start, that chance to become a better player.RELATED: 49ers announce six-year extension for Ahmad Brooks
"They may have heard of me," Brooks explained, "and seen me on film, but it was my chance to earn a starting position."He didnt waste his opportunity. By the end of training camp, Brooks was the starting outside linebacker. He started all 16 regular season games in 2011 and became an every down player for the first time in his career setting career highs in tackles and sacks. Along the way, he also earned much more.
RELATED: Ahmad Brooks career stats 2011 game logs splits
They believe in me, believe in me as a player, Brooks said of the coaches and what his new contract means to him. I thought it was going to be a five year deal. But when I looked at the contract it said six, but it had extra base salary on there, so I was happy with the deal.Brooks is mostly happy that the length of his deal should allow him to retire with the 49ers. But happy does not mean satisfied. Brooks is staying in the Bay Area for the first time this offseason, working out with weight room regulars Justin Smith and Ray McDonald at the team facility. He views the 2011 season as just a start of what kind of player he can be, especially when it comes to rushing the passer.Because Aldon Smith was making so many sacks, and I was just so close to getting there, and I was like Dang! He beat me to the punch, Brooks said laughing. I want to get better at that.There is no reason to believe he won't.

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