James Brooks was born on December 28, 1958 in Warner Robins, Georgia. Brooks attended the University of Auburn from 1977-1980 and earned All-American with his great play. The 5-10 177-pound Brooks was a little runner with a big heart, playing much bigger than he was throughout his career. He was selected in the first round; pick 24 of the 1981 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
James Brooks in San Diego
James Brooks had a fantastic rookie season with 525 rushing yards, averaging a whopping 4.8 yards per carry. He also caught 46 passes for another 329 yards and scored 6 total touchdowns. As good as those numbers were, Brooks became a hero in the Epic in Miami, which took place on January 2, 1982. The game was played in blistering heat and after the Chargers blew an early 24-0 lead, James Brooks proved to be the hero. With less than one minute to go, Fouts fired a pass toward Kellen Winslow, but the pass sailed over his head and into the arms of James Brooks. The Chargers went on to win the game in overtime 41-38.
The next week, the Chargers lost to the Bengals in the Freezer Bowl, which featured negative 59-degree weather with the wind chill. However, in 1982, James Brooks would once again be a part of history, featuring the most passing yards in a game in NFL history up until that point with 834 yards. James Brooks took care of much of the running duties, carrying the ball 12 times for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 48 yarder in the third quarter. The Chargers got revenge and won 50-34. (1)
James Brooks to the Bengals
After two historic games against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982, James Brooks became a Bengal in 1984. Brooks had the finest seasons of his career in Cincinnati. During those years he had 1344 carries for 6447 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, caught 297 passes for 3012 more yards and scored 64 touchdowns. When he retired, he was the Bengals’ all-time leading rusher. Here are some of his best moments.
It was October 19, 1986 and the Bengals were playing the Houston Oilers. The Oilers led 28-24 after returning a fumble 93 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:26 left to play. The Bengals drove 70 yards in five plays and Brooks picked up the final 45 yards. First he caught a 24-yard pass to move the chains and put the ball at the 21-yard line. Then, on the next play, Brooks ran the trap play, bowled over two tacklers and scampered into the end zone with just 43 seconds to play. "The hole was there. All I did was run the ball," said Brooks. The Bengals won 31-28 and James Brooks finished with 18 carries for 133 yards, caught 6 passes for another 62 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game winner. (2)
On December 7, 1986, the Bengals traveled to New England to play the Patriots. James Brooks had a game for the ages. He finished the game with 18 carries for a club record 163 yards, caught 6 passes for another 101 yards and scored a touchdown. He became only the second player in Bengals’ history to produce a double 100-yard effort. “James Brooks is the finest offensive player I've seen this year,” said Browns’ coach Marty Schottenheimer. “He reminds me of a young Walter Payton (of the Chicago Bears), and that's no disrespect to Walter. Walter's still a fine ball player, but this young man is a complete running back.” The Bengals won the game 31-7 and played the Browns the following week. (3)
During a game against Houston on December 23, 1990, the Bengals needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Once again, James Brooks was up for the challenge. He tallied 20 carries for a new team record 201 yards rushing including a 56-yard touchdown run. On the touchdown run, Brooks dodged several tacklers, weaving back and forth and made it to pay dirt. He set up two other touchdowns with runs of 40 and 45 yards. “Everybody was saying that defense is so tough that you can't run against them, and I said, 'We'll see,'” Brooks said. “The last time we played them I was hurt (with a sore neck). I redeemed myself and showed them I can still run against them any time.” (4)
James Brooks’ Career
James Brooks played 10 seasons in the NFL. Four times he went to the Pro Bowl, following the 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1990 seasons. He finished his career with 1685 carries for 7962 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, caught 383 passes for another 3621 yards and scored 79 regular season touchdowns.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
James Brooks Biography Sources:(1) Fouts Picks Apart Bengals, NFL Record Book In 50-34 Win (1982, December 21) Tyrone Daily Herald
(2) Brooks' run steals win from Oilers (1986, October 20) Galveston Daily News, pg. 11
(3) Bengals' James Brooks in the flow of offense (1986, December 11) Chronicle Telegram, pg. 28
(4) Thumbs down for Oilers; Cincy rolls (1990, December 24) Galveston Daily News, pg. 13