ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When linebacker
In fact, he told his agent he'd book his own plane ticket.
"I came in this morning, ran around a little bit, showed them that this 37-year-old body can still move," Brooking said. "The circumstances had to be right for me. I wanted to play for a contender, and this team was right up there on the list. It worked out great."
"I’m just really excited to be a part of the Broncos -- what they bring to the table -- and to make a run at this thing.”
Brooking last made a Super Bowl his rookie season in Atlanta, when the Falcons faced off against Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway's Broncos. The Falcons made the NFC Championship Game one other time in Brooking's career, but fell short to the Philadelphia Eagles. So that loss in Super Bowl XXXIII stuck with him.
In fact, it was the first thing he mentioned to Elway when he met him at the facility Monday morning.
"I was like, ‘By the way, I haven’t forgotten '98,'" Brooking smiled. "Haven’t gotten back there yet, so that’s even more of a reason to continue to play and strive to get there. That’s what this is all about at this point. Not a lot of fond memories from that evening in Miami, for sure."
But Brooking knows there's a long way to go before the Broncos can talk about the Super Bowl: "We have a lot of work to do before then," he said.
For the 15th-year veteran, that work will start on Saturday morning, the first time the Broncos practice after their preseason opener in Chicago.
Head Coach John Fox, who said Brooking looked "outstanding" in his workout, said the linebacker will not play in this Thursday's game.
Regardless of when he is able to get started, Brooking said he's just anxious to start working with his new teammates.
He met the majority of them in the weight room on Monday, then watched Monday's practice from the sideline, talking with fellow defenders between drills.
He also met with Fox, who he said he built a great respect for during their years as NFC South rivals with the Falcons and Panthers, and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, who he called "a great football mind."
Brooking and Del Rio talked about the team's defensive scheme, which got him even more excited about his new situation in Denver.
“Del Rio,Coach Fox, the whole organization, when I got here, it was exactly what I thought it was going to be this morning when I worked out for them and got a chance to sit down and talk with them," he said. "It just validated everything even more.”
Fox noted that Brooking has played both the Mike (middle) and Will (weakside) linebacker positions, and that's where the veteran expects to compete as the preseason unfolds.
"I think competition brings out the best in everyone and brews success," Brooking said. "I’m here to do that, whatever role it takes. Mike, Will, special teams -- I’m not too big for that, even though I’ve been in this league a long time. Whatever role I can find, I’m willing to do.”
Without participating in an organized offseason conditioning program to this point, Brooking acknowledged that he's not yet in game shape. But even after 14 NFL seasons, he said his "body feels great."
With five Pro Bowls, 1,387 tackles (according to press box totals), 21 sacks, 13 interceptions, 64 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries to his name, the veteran linebacker said he's got his eyes on the piece of hardware still missing from his trophy room.
"At this point in my career, you’re striving for one thing," Brooking said. "I think this team is set to make a run, and I’m very excited to be a small part of it.”