Earlier this off-season, Ronde Barber made it known that he was boycotting the media, due to their criticism of his play last year. He had/has no intentions of granting interviews or giving sound bites and is planning on "letting his play speak for itself".
This comes after what may have been his worst year, or his worst stretch as a pro. It's no secret that he was manhandled on the field against the Carolina Panthers in a Monday night fiasco. The images of him getting stiff-armed to the ground, not once but twice (in a row), was disheartening for any Bucs fans to see. Many voiced their displeasure after those plays and would not be given reason to shut up the rest of the season.
I can understand Ronde's frustration, as the media (and people in general) tend to focus on the negative and sensationalize it. It's a lot easier to sell a headline proclaiming the end of the world is here as opposed to a headline that predicts the obvious rising of the sun tomorrow.
But as a professional, as someone who gets paid good money to play a game, doesn't that come with the territory? NFL players chose a career in the public eye, get compensated as such, and then get bent out of shape when a few negative words are spoken. I don't know about anyone else, but I get reviewed at my day job. Too bad I can't boycott that process.
Barber's 2009 season has more questions that answers, largely predicated on the change in defensive scheme. He was a perfect fit for the cover two defense; a smart player with great playmaking ability that was rarely asked to go one on one with a bigger receiver. His job was to re-direct and pass the receiver on, provide run support and on third downs, slide inside to the slot and bring the heat. There's no questioning his ability, being the first player in NFL history with 20 interceptions and 20 sacks, but the last four games of the season seemed to prompt more questions.
With Barber being one of the few veteran holdovers, he will need to not only provide leadership on the field, but also in the locker room. Having been coached by Morris as a DB, he will be the obvious link between players and coaching staff. He's poised to make an impact off the field, but it's on the field where the criticism lies.
So while Barber's silence continues, we are left to speculate on the upcoming season. Will he mentally be prepared? Have his skills diminished to a point where he is a shadow of himself? Can he adapt to the new defense? The 2009 season is only a few weeks away, and when it arrives, will we see a Ronde Barber that can make consistent splash plays, or will he spend more time on the turf than in the backfield?