Brackett, a defensive captain with the Colts, has impacted the team on the field in numerous ways since 2003, his rookie season. He has participated in 91 regular-season victories from his middle linebacker position, and he has played in 15 post-season games.
Brackett has contributed to seven division titles, appeared in three AFC Championship games, won two conference titles, started in two Super Bowls and was a member of the Super Bowl XLI champions with the Colts.
Most of his greatest triumphs have come off the field, and they were inspired in part because of the tragedies that have visited his life.
In an 18-month span from 2003-05, Brackett lost his father, Granville, mother, Sandra, and brother, Gregory, in difficult medical tragedies. The tribulations he faced made winning away from the field even more important. As Brackett moved on with his career, he vested himself heavily into the local community. In 2007, Brackett established the IMPACT Foundation with the aim of providing resources and opportunities for children and families affected by cancer. His dedication has enriched the city of Indianapolis and many of its citizens, and now there are more winners, too.
Brackett’s newest effort to better the lives of people will happen in the next month with the release of his autobiography, ‘Winning – From Walk-on to Captain in Football and Life.’ Published by Clerisy Press and with a forward by former Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy, it is a book that addresses the different parts of Brackett’s life.
“This is more than a book about football, though parts of it are a football book,” said Brackett. “Part of the book deals with the circumstances I have been through with my family. My father passed away during my first year with the Colts (in 2003). He was a Vietnam veteran and suffered from a heart condition. My mother passed away the following February. She passed away on the operating table when she had a stroke following routine surgery. In May of 2004, I underwent a bone marrow transplant for my brother, who I eventually lost to cancer in February of 2005. In 18 months, I lost three dear loved ones who helped shape my life and who gave me direction. It was a very difficult time for the entire family, and one where we all needed to rely on our faith.
“As the story became more public because of the nature of my career with the Colts, I began to get letters from people from all over the place who had been through similar family tragedies, as well as from some who were coping with difficult situations, too. After listening to the challenges people were facing and from having learned from others, I wanted to address this in a way that hopefully could be of assistance to many people in need.”
“The book is a memoir of my life, what I’ve been through to get where I am today, the struggles, the triumphs, the entire story. I wanted to share it with people. I’ve gotten letters over the years for being an inspiration to others who are going through similar tough times. I found time to sit down and write the book, and it will be in stores in early December.”
Brackett’s story is inspirational in every account. He grew up in Glassboro, New Jersey, as the one of five children. Though he starred in football at Glassboro High School, he did not receive any scholarship offers. Brackett chose to walk-on at Rutgers University, where he played as a freshman. He played for four seasons, earning the title of captain for his junior and senior years. Brackett, who won the school’s MVP Trophy in each of his last two seasons, appeared in 44 games and had 274 tackles.
When the NFL Draft came and went in 2003, Brackett was on the outside looking in. He was not deterred. He had traveled this road before. His career path led to Indianapolis, where he would try to make the Colts as a free agent on Dungy’s team. He emerged from training camp with a spot on the 53-man roster and played in 16 games as a rookie.
The majority of Brackett’s play through his first two seasons came on special teams, but he moved into the starting middle linebacker position in 2005, and he has been the primary starter there since then. In 2006, Brackett was voted by his teammates as the defensive captain, a role he still carries to this day. Brackett has started 86 of 116 career appearances, totaling 754 tackles, 12 interceptions, five forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered and four sacks.
‘Winning’ includes football flashbacks that highlight Brackett’s career. It also deals with the personal successes that have accompanied the hard times. Writing the book involved almost every emotion for Brackett.
“It was both hard and fun to write,” said Brackett. “It was fun because I have had a lot of great experiences. When you win a championship, people think that is the highest point of your career. While it is a significant moment, the real story is the journey along the way. For many of us, winning the AFC Championship in 2006 meant more than the Super Bowl, just as the day I met my wife was more important than our wedding day.
“So many moments along the way, both good and bad, help shape who you are. You remember the commitment and effort it took when you have the good times, and you draw on the strengths of your faith to help in those other times. This book deals with it all.”
Brackett is guided in his faith and wants the book to be inspirational with its message about triumph and perseverance.
“It is inspirational, definitely spiritual,” said Brackett. “I’m a spiritual person through my growth in Christ, who leads me through trials and tribulations. I’ve overcome obstacles on the field in being undersized (5-11, 235) and then with the family tragedies. I believe I have a platform, and I want to be able to help others.”
Brackett lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Ragan, and his children, Gabrielle and Gary, Jr.
‘Winning – From Walk-On to Captain in Football and Life’ will be available for purchase in early December. Copies may be pre-ordered at www.garybrackett.com.