Brooks played collegiately for the University of South Carolina (1988–1991). He was a fan favorite throughout his college career, Brooks was known for his fluid running and sure hands. He was a Freshman All-American in 1988.
Brooks was drafted in the third round, 62nd overall, of the 1992 NFL draft to the Green Bay Packers. He played for the Green Bay Packers (1992-1998) and the Denver Broncos (2000). He led the NFL in kickoff returns in 1993 with a 26.6-yard average. He came into his own in 1995, following a career-ending injury to teammate Sterling Sharpe. That year, he led the Packers with 102 receptions and 13 touchdowns, while racking up 1,497 receiving yards, a franchise record until Jordy Nelson broke it in 2014. During the 1995 season, Brooks caught a 99-yard pass play from Brett Favre during a Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears on September 11, 1995. This reception currently ties the records for longest pass play from scrimmage with twelve other receivers. He finished with 309 receptions, 4,276 yards, and 32 touchdowns. Brooks popularized the "Lambeau Leap," leaping into the arms of fans in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.
Brooks suffered a severe knee injury in week 7 of the 1996 season against the San Francisco 49ers. Niners cornerback Tyronne Drakeford pulled Brooks to the turf while he was blocking downfield. Brooks suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn patellar tendon on the play. He missed the remainder of the season, and was unable to play in Super Bowl XXXI. The Packers beat the New England Patriots 35-21. Brooks vowed to return the next season, and in 1997 he won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award, catching 60 passes for 1,010 yards and 7 touchdowns. Brooks later developed back problems as he was forced to change his running mechanics. He suffered through a painful season in 1998, and briefly retired before attempting a comeback with the Denver Broncos in 2000. Following the season, in which he appeared in only a handful of games, Brooks again retired from the NFL.