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Ronde Barber a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame for first time

Ronde Barber a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame for first time

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For the first time, Ronde Barber is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The former Cave Spring High School, University of Virginia and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star was among the 15 modern-era player finalists announced by the hall of fame Tuesday night.

This was the fourth straight year the former defensive back had been one of the 25 semifinalists, but he had never made the cut to be one of the 15 finalists before.

Ex-linebacker Clay Matthews Jr. was the only other finalist Tuesday who had been eligible in prior years but had never made the cut for finalist before.

Four players in their first year of eligibility made Tuesday’s list — former quarterback Peyton Manning, former receiver Calvin Johnson, former defensive end Jared Allen and ex-defensive back Charles Woodson.

Barber and Woodson are among four defensive backs on the list, including Leroy Butler and current San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch. This will be Lynch’s eighth time as a finalist and the second time for Butler. Lynch was one of Barber’s Tampa Bay teammates.

Receivers Reggie Wayne and Torry Holt are finalists for the second time. Wayne played in two Super Bowls with Manning.

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour is a finalist for the third time.

Linebackers Zach Thomas and Sam Mills became second-time finalists.

Offensive lineman Tony Boselli is a finalist for the fifth time, while offensive lineman Alan Faneca is a finalist for the sixth time.

Voting on the entrants to the hall will be conducted later this month, with the inductees announced during Super Bowl week. A maximum of five modern-day players can be chosen, along with three previously announced candidates should they get the required votes: coach Tom Flores, contributor Bill Nunn, and senior Drew Pearson.

Inductions are scheduled for next August, when the 2020 class and a special centennial class also will be enshrined after the COVID-19 pandemic forced postponement of those ceremonies last summer.

Barber was drafted out of UVa in the third round in 1997. The three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl pick played in the NFL for 16 seasons, all with Tampa Bay. He started 215 consecutive regular-season games and is the only NFL cornerback who has ever made at least 200 straight starts.

Barber, who helped the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl in 2002, was named a member of the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s.

The former cornerback and safety recorded 47 regular-season interceptions for 923 yards and eight touchdowns — all Tampa Bay records. He returned eight interceptions for touchdowns. He also returned four fumbles for touchdowns and returned two deflected punts for touchdowns.

Barber, who had 28 sacks, is the only player in NFL history with at least 45 interceptions and at least 25 sacks. He is the NFL’s career sacks leader among cornerbacks. He also had 1,428 tackles.

Barber had two games with three interceptions. He had six games in which he forced at least two turnovers. He had a league-high 10 interceptions in 2001.

Manning is the owner of a record five NFL Most Valuable Player awards and two Super Bowl titles. He was one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. He had 14 seasons with 4,000-plus yards passing.

When he retired after leading Denver to the 2015 league title, Manning held NFL records for career passing yards (71,940), career passing touchdowns (539) and consecutive seasons with at least 25 passing touchdowns (13).

He won 201 games, including playoff games, and led the Colts to the 2006 NFL championship. He also made the Super Bowl for the 2009 and 2013 seasons, was a seven-time All-Pro, and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

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