The Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts have no lack of star power. Offensively, they have one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game, surrounded by two potential hall-of-famer's on the outside, a tight end who will be a Pro-Bowler, and one of the game's best running backs. On defense, Indianapolis has superstar pass rusher Dwight Freeney and star strong safety Bob Sanders. A guy that can play a huge role in Monday's game that nobody seems to mention is linebacker Gary Brackett.
Gary Brackett has been overlooked, not only for most of his pro career, but all along the way. Brackett is an undersized linebacker at just 5'11", 235 lbs., and didn't get many scholarship offers when he was coming out of high school. Brackett landed at Rutgers University, and was forced to make the team as a walk-on. After four solid years, Brackett was again overlooked at draft time, and had to earn a spot with the Indianapolis Colts in 2003 as an undrafted free agent rookie, which is exactly what he did.
Recently, Colt Power's Ed Thompson interviewed Gary and asked him about his Super Bowl experience--
"I think when you accomplish what we did last year, you just have to appreciate the journey. For me, that's been walking-on in college, five years in the league and having the opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in sports. Getting there, convincing myself that this opportunity doesn't happen often and I really need to make the most of it. So for me it was really just trying to go out there and play hard and play a game that when I get older I can say I did everything I could to get a championship ring--and it came to fruition."
Brackett played sparingly in his first two seasons in the league, but he made a difference whenever he found his way to the playing field. Despite starting just one game in his first two seasons, Brackett intercepted three balls from his linebacker spot and returned one for a touchdown. Gary Brackett finally found his way into the starting lineup in 2005, and had a fantastic year, with 127 tackles, three passes defensed, and three interceptions. To prove that he wasn't just a one-year wonder, Brackett added 120 more tackles in 2006, and two more pass defenses.
Gary Brackett talked about some of his duties at middle linebacker in his interview with Ed Thompson--
"One, I'm the middle linebacker, so I'm calling the plays and getting everyone lined up. But it's also a lot of pre-snap communication. One thing with our defense is you never know what their offense is doing, but you can prepare yourself. Out of certain formations they have tendencies to run and do certain plays, so just alerting everyone to that so when a play starts to develop guys have already been alerted to some things. Part of being a good football player is knowing the area the offense wants to touch."
This season, Brackett is once again playing at a high level, even if not many people are noticing. Gary has 36 tackles, one pass defense, and one interception, in just five games, and is leading the Colts line backing corps in tackles. Brackett has helped turn what was once a laughing stock of a defense to a top ten unit, and he will likely make some big plays in Jacksonville next Monday.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.
Flying Under the Radar: Gary Brackett
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