"He came in there and took a lot of heat from Sterling Sharpe because Sterling was The Man at South Carolina," Gruden recalled. "He wanted to make sure that Robert had it squared away who was The Man (in Green Bay). The first year Robert was there, he caught 12 passes and we were trying to make him the punt returner. He dropped some passes and was in and out of Coach Holmgren's doghouse, as most rookies were. What a highly conditioned, full-speed receiver he became. It's a real credit to Sherman Lewis and Coach Holmgren, certainly, but I give Robert Brooks all the credit in the world. I remember coaching him when we had a mini-camp in Arizona and this guy could run all day, man. He ran one time where both of his feet had six blisters apiece! He could run and run and run, and he worked so hard on his game. I'll never forget the first year he really took off and exploded on the scene. I was so happy and so proud of him because there's not a harder working guy than Robert Brooks. Everything he got, he deserved."
In seven seasons with the Packers (1992-98), Brooks ranks 11th on the Packers' all-time receiving list with 306 catches for 4,225 yards and 32 touchdowns. He owns the team's single-season record for receiving yards (1,497 in 1995). That year, Brooks amassed 102 receptions and set a team, single-season record with nine 100-yard games.
With such an outstanding performance in 1995, Brooks was looking to follow-up it up in 1996 as Green Bay put together a World Championship. His bid was cut short in Week 7 against the 49ers in Green Bay when he tore up his knee. Though his season was finished, Brooks still looks back on that year with great delight.
"It was a great season," said Brooks with a giggle in his voice. "It was kind of destiny for us to go to the Super Bowl and win it. We had made our mind up after playing Dallas in 1995. We lost and we just made our mind up that we were going to go to the Super Bowl. We were not going to fall short the following year. Guys went home in the off-season and that's the way we set our hearts. Whether any player got injured or finished the season or not, it was like we were destined to go there fulfilling what he had prophesized."
Brooks found himself a sidelines spectator in New Orleans for Super Bowl XXXI.
"It was great because I got to see the game from a different perspective," he explains. "You know what goes into training and preparing for the games. Having been there and been a starter myself, you know what the guys have been through during the season and you know the kind of work they put in. It was a great feeling watching them from the perspective I had."
Butler also made sure his teammate kept his chin up.
"We wanted to go to the Super Bowl for Robert," said Butler. "I remember him and George Koonce not being able to play because of injuries and we felt bad. I remember Robert feeling so bad he couldn't play in the game and I told him, ‘Robert, it doesn't matter. You'll get a ring regardless' and that made him feel better."
With their 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots, the Packers finally returned the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay – and got the ring.
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