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James Brooks (American football)

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Name  James Brooks
College:  Auburn
Role  American football player

Rushing yards:  7,962
Education  Auburn University
Average:  4.7
Positions  Running back
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Date of birth:  (1958-12-28) December 28, 1958 (age 56)
NFL draft:  1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24
Similar People  Joe Cribbs, David Fulcher, William Andrews, Jim Breech, Tim Krumrie

Place of birth:  Warner Robins, Georgia

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James Brooks (born December 28, 1958) is a retired NFL football running back.


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High school and college career

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His young career started with success in elementary school. He led the Warner Robins High School Demons to a State championship and a National Championship, ranking in 1976. He left Warner Robins High with the school record for rushing, a record that stood until Willie Reid (a FSU stand-out) broke his record during his Warner Robins career. He played collegiately at Auburn University from 1977–1980 and earned All-American status along with future NFL backs William Andrews and Joe Cribbs, where he set school records for kickoff return yards (1,726) and all-purpose yards (5,596), while also scoring 30 touchdowns.

Professional career

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Brooks was drafted with the 24th pick in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft, and played professionally with the San Diego Chargers (1981–1983), the Cincinnati Bengals (1984–1991), the Cleveland Browns (1992), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992).

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He was a key participant in two of the most famous games in NFL Lore during his rookie season with the Chargers: The Epic in Miami, and the Freezer Bowl. However, he started only seven games in three seasons with the Chargers, always second on the team to Chuck Muncie in rushing attempts and yards. He had only one 100-yard game with the Chargers, a 12-carry, 105-yard, 3-touchdown outing against his future teammates. In 1984, he was traded to the Bengals for Pete Johnson, a move still widely regarded as the best trade in Bengals franchise history.

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A four-time Pro Bowler (1986, 1988–1990), Brooks excelled at running, receiving, and kick returning. By the time he left the Bengals in 1991, he was the team's all-time leading rusher with 6,447 yards (since surpassed by Corey Dillon's 8,061 yards), and is still among the Bengals top 15 all-time leading receivers with 297 receptions for 3,012 yards. By the time of his retirement after the 1992 season, Brooks amassed 7,962 rushing yards, 383 receptions for 3,621 receiving yards, 565 punt return yards, 2,762 kickoff return yards, and scored 79 touchdowns (49 rushing and 30 receiving). Between 1968 (when John David Crow and Timmy Brown retired) and 2005 (Marshall Faulk), Brooks was the only member of 30/30 club (30+ rushing and receiving touchdowns, only seven players all time). As of 2017, Brooks' 14,910 total net yards ranks him #36 on the NFL's list of career all-purpose yards.

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He was used sparingly at first, only reaching 10 carries in three games in the 1984 season. Though he started every game in 1985, he and fullback Larry Kinnebrew finished the season with almost identical carry and yardage stats. His breakthrough season was 1986, which included his arguably most memorable run in a December 7 contest against the New England Patriots. In that play, Brooks made several cutbacks, broke several tackles and dragged defenders the final five yards across the goal line for a Bengals 56-yard touchdown run; he finished the game with 163 yards rushing, and 101 yards receiving, one of only two 100/100 games in Bengals history. This was his sixth season in the league, but the first where he reached 1,000 rushing yards (a then-franchise record 1,087 rushing yards) and the pro-bowl. A determined rusher, Brooks was noted for his ability to make yards after contact, and continue fighting for extra inches in the process of being tackled. After missing half the 1987 season with an injury, he returned with 931 yards and career-bests in rushing touchdowns (8) and receiving touchdowns (6) in 1988 and was instrumental in the Bengals run to Super Bowl XXIII. In 1989, he powered his way to a career-best/franchise-record 1,239 rushing yards (7th in the NFL), and again broke 1,000 yards in 1990, including a 201-yard performance against the Houston Oilers. He started 1991 with two 100+ rushing games in Weeks 2 and 3, but had progressively fewer carries the rest of the season (102 rushes for two touchdowns and a 3.3 yards-per-carry average, never once breaking 50 yards over the next 12 games). He was traded to the Browns in 1992, then to the Buccaneers midway through the season, retiring after a minor injury in Game 6.

As of 2017's NFL off-season, James Brooks held at least 5 Bengals franchise records, including:

  • Rush Yds/Att: career (4.8), season (5.61 in 1989)
  • Yds from Scrimmage: season (1,773 in 1986)
  • All Purpose Yds: season (1,773 in 1986)
  • Games with 3+ TD scored: season (2 in 1988; with Carl Pickens)
  • Statistics

    Note: G = Games played; Att = Rushing attempts; Yds = Rushing yards; Avg = Average yards per carry; Long = Longest rush; Rush TD = Rushing touchdowns; Rec = Receptions; Yds = Receiving yards; Avg = Average yards per reception; Long = Longest reception; Rec TD = Receiving touchdowns

  • Stats that are highlighted show career high
  • Personal

    Brooks was arrested in 1999 for failure to pay child support, owing over $110,000. When asked by the judge how he graduated from Auburn, Brooks said, “I didn’t have to go to class.” He served three months of a six months sentence before being assigned to a work release program. He now works at the Walton Kentucky location of GSI Commerce as a warehouse associate.


    James Brooks (American football) Wikipedia