Clarence Brooks, the Baltimore Ravens’ longest-tenured assistant coach, passed away Saturday morning at a hospital in Weston, Fla., following a battle with esophageal and stomach cancer. He was 65.
The beloved Brooks – referred to by most as “C.B.” – originally joined the organization in 2005 and served 11 seasons as defensive line coach. This past spring, while undergoing intense treatment for his illness, he transitioned into a senior defensive assistant role, but still spent as much time as he possibly could working with players and fellow coaches, including during the Ravens’ recent training camp.
Brooks was a 24-year NFL coaching veteran and one of six assistant coaches retained by head coach John Harbaugh upon his 2008 Baltimore arrival. In addition to the Ravens, “C.B.” coached for the Miami Dolphins (2000-04), Cleveland Browns (1999) and Chicago Bears (1993-98). Brooks also spent 17 years in the collegiate ranks holding coaching positions at Arizona (1990-92) – where he was instrumental in the notable “Desert Swarm” defense that led the nation in scoring defense in 1992 – Syracuse (1981-89) and Massachusetts (1976-80).
During Brooks’ Baltimore tenure as defensive line coach (2005-15), the Ravens allowed the NFL’s fewest rushing touchdowns (89), second-fewest points per game (18.9) and the league’s second-fewest rushing yards per game (94.2).
In each of Brooks’ first seven full seasons in Baltimore (2005-11), the Ravens’ defense ranked in the Top 10 in total yards allowed. During his second year (2006), the defense ranked No. 1 (264.1 ypg), while finishing second overall in 2008 (261.1 ypg). Under Brooks’ leadership, NT Haloti Ngata earned five Pro Bowl selections and became the team’s fifth all-time tackler.
Additionally, outstanding play by Brooks’ defensive line helped the Ravens become the only team to rank among the NFL’s Top 5 in red zone defense in 10 of the past 12 seasons (2004-15).
Prior to his coaching career, Brooks played guard at the University of Massachusetts from 1970-72 and was a team captain in his final season. He earned All-Conference and All-East honors on the offensive line before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Born in New York City on May 20, 1951, Brooks attended New Bedford (Mass.) High School, where he lettered in football and track and field. He was also a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics, and he delighted in talking about those teams.
“C.B.” is survived by many family members and friends, including his wife, Justa, son, Jason – who is the tight ends coach at Florida International and was an assistant on the Ravens’ coaching staff for four seasons (2009-12) – and daughter, Adrienne. Clarence was also a proud grandfather to granddaughter, Aviana, and grandson, Avery.
“We knew he loved his players,” Justa stated Saturday morning. “Through all of this, we’ve found out how much his players loved him. We thank everyone for the loving support.”