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After a stellar career as a Buccaneer, the former Cave Spring and Virginia star can now work on his golf game - and maybe becoming an NFL analyst - as he waits to see if he ends up in the Hall of Fame.
Associated Press | File 2012
Former Tampa Bay free safety Ronde Barber (20) started 215 consecutive games for the Buccaneers and did not miss a game in his last 15 seasons, a 241-game span that tied him with Washington’s London Fletcher for the longest streak among active NFL players.
Associated Press | File 2012
Former Tampa Bay free safety Ronde Barber (top) had a CT scan that revealed none of the brain issues that have plagued other retired NFL players.
Associated Press | File 2012
Former Tampa Bay defensive back Ronde Barber scored 14 touchdowns, played in five Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s first all-decade team of the 2000s, but he will be remembered as much for his durability as his performance.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
They played a combined 26 seasons in the most violent of professional team sports, yet the worst injury sustained by Roanoke’s Barber twins may have occurred on a bicycle.
“You might be right,” said Tiki Barber, who, as a pre-teen, spent most of one summer in a cast after trying to descend the hill in back of the Hardee’s on Brambleton.
Throw in their playoff and all-star appearances and the Barbers had played well over 400 National Football League games before Ronde confirmed at a May 9 news conference that he would be retiring after 17 seasons, all of them as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive back.
Tiki Barber retired following the 2006 season, his 10th with the New York Giants, for whom he remains the career rushing leader.
Within days of his own announcement, Ronde Barber, who turned 38 in April, was in full retirement mode. He was driving the younger of his two daughters to a golf lesson when reached by cellphone.
Next up: restoring his 2-handcap after seeing it rise to the upper 3’s.
“It makes a difference when you’re power-cleaning 200 pounds and squatting 350,” he said. “That makes it a little hard to make a good shoulder turn.”
His retirement did not come as a great surprise after the Buccaneers signed former New York Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Reavis, but those two developments were unrelated.
“I almost did it last year; I think I waited till the middle of March,” said Barber, who was close to Raheem Morris, one of his former position coaches who was fired as Bucs’ head coach after the 2012 season. “I was happy I came back, not saying that I didn’t have buyer’s remorse as I went through camp.
“This year, I wasn’t sure right after the season. I didn’t want to make a knee-jerk reaction, I wanted to vet all my feelings and have a chance to talk to the coach and [general manager]. As it went on and on, it became very apparent that I didn’t have the need for it anymore. And there’s other stuff that I’m willing and able to do.”
There has been ongoing interest in Barber as an NFL analyst. His brother, now a talk-show host for CBS, did football commentary following his career and also served as a correspondent for NBC and the Today Show.
“Offers were there a couple of years ago and I decided not to take them and go back and play,” said Ronde, who, along with his brother, was a star player at Cave Spring High School and the University of Virginia. “I’ve prepared for several different roles. We’ll see which one materializes.”
Barber remained a valued contributor until the end of his career. He moved from cornerback to safety for his final season, but preserved a starting streak that reached 215 games. He did not miss a game in his last 15 seasons, a 241-game span that tied him with Washington’s London Fletcher for the longest streak among active NFL players.
A CT scan has revealed none of the brain issues that have spoiled retirement for many former players, and Barber can say that he’s never had a concussion.
“Not that I know of,” he said. “I know I’ve been dinged. I’ll have left with a bunch of surgeries and who knows what that will mean 20 years down the road? I’ve had both knees operated on, an elbow in college, a broken forearm, I was fortunate enough never to have a catastrophic injury, but I wasn’t completely unscathed.
“Our D-line line coach at the beginning of my career, Rod Marinelli, used to tell everybody, ‘You’ve got to love to be miserable.’ It’s never bothered me to be hurt. I never played feeling great. I think you feel great for two to three weeks every season. The rest is a grind.”
Had he returned to an overhauled secondary, Barber’s consecutive-start streak might have been in jeopardy. That could have been remedied simply by beginning games in a “nickel” package, with five defensive backs.
“Probably his best position when I was in Tampa Bay was when he played the nickel position,” former Bucs’ assistant Herm Edwards, a former New York Jets head coach and current ESPN analyst, said in an interview with Fox Sports.
“He was the complete corner. He was a fantastic blitzer. He had a bunch of interceptions. Most corners nowadays, they call themselves cover corners, they don’t like to tackle. This guy, he could tackle.”
Barber, listed at 5 foot 10 and 184 pounds for his final season, finished his career with 47 interceptions and 28 sacks. He is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 interceptions and 28 sacks.
He scored 14 touchdowns in his career, played in five Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s first all-decade team of the 2000s, but he will be remembered as much for his durability as his performance.
“You have a fist fight with Father Time when you get into your 10th season,” Edwards said. “He fought Father Time off.”
Barber was the last remaining Bucs’ player from the Tampa Bay team that defeated Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2001. Other players have sought bigger paydays through free agency, but Barber didn’t want to leave Tampa — then or now.
However, he has purchased 200 acres outside Charlottesville in Albemarle County.
“It’s got an existing cabin up there — from the ’50s, I believe,” Ronde said. “It’s our intention to get back up there at some point.”
Even before his retirement, Barber was mentioned as a possible — and some would say probable — choice for the NFL Hall of Fame. He will become eligible for the first time in 2018, when he will be joined by fellow retiree Ray Lewis, and possibly Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Brian Urlacher.
He isn’t losing any sleep over it “and I won’t in five years, either,” he said. “I think the people who played against me and played with me, they know what I was. Just being part of the conversation is enough of an honor in itself.”
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