A couple years ago I sat next to Steven Jackson (then with the Rams) at a bar in Hollywood. We struck up a conversation about football and life over a few beers. I told him I was from Tampa and I offered him a drink on me if he’d go easy on us next time the Bucs and Rams met on the field (He’d punished us the season before – although we got the W). He was a laid back dude and happy to answer my annoying fan-boy questions – of which I had many. One answer sticks out though. When I asked which Buccaneer defender hit him the hardest, he said without hesitating, Ronde Barber.
I always new Ronde was a sure tackler and didn’t shy away from taking on big backs, but we had some mean linebackers and defensive linemen on the team that year who could lay some wood, so I was a little surprised to hear that our smallish slot corner was our biggest hitter. Ronde was a Buc-fan favorite because he always seem to come up with the game-changing play when we needed it - the sack to stop a drive, the turnover to seal a win - yet was not a flashy NFL superstar. He never got the hype of a Neon, Revis, Reed or Woodson, but he got the respect of his peers. Players and coaches around the league understand the true greatness of Barber maybe even more-so than his fans. He had a particular skill set that made him a force for the opposition to reckon with. I think history will be very kind to Barber, and as his career grows smaller in the rear view of our collective minds, his legacy will grow even larger. Ronde played hard, smart and fast. He was a leader. He was a hard worker. He was an incredible role model on and off the field. He is a Hall of Fame football player.
He may be the greatest Buccaneer of all time.
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