The Buccaneers announced in May that the legendary Ronde Barber will be the next inductee into the franchise’s Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.
The should-be Hall of Famer, who spent all 16 years of his career with the Bucs, is the only player in NFL history to put together a career with 40 interceptions and 25 sacks (he finished with 47 and 28, respectively). He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time first-team All-Pro and a two-time second-team All-Pro. And of course, he was a Super Bowl champion.
On Tuesday afternoon, Barber met with members of the Tampa media — with team alumni on hand as well — to discuss his induction, which will happen on Sept. 22. Below, we picked out some of the highlights from No. 20’s press conference.
*Spins around in a chair petting a cat* “I’ve been waiting...”
OK, no. Barber didn’t exactly do this. But his first word when he got to the podium?
“Sixteen years seemed short compared to the seven years I waited for this.”
He went on to talk about about those who came before him in the Ring of Honor, with specific references to Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Doug Williams and Jimmie Giles. He then spoke about his teammates and coaches whose names are up there, saying it’s “pretty awesome” to be immortalized alongside them.
During halftime of that Sept. 22 game against the New York Giants, Barber’s name will join the names of former teammates Paul Gruber, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, and John Lynch — plus Jon Gruden (his coach from 2002-2008), Tony Dungy (his coach from 1997-2001) and Malcolm Glazer (the team’s owner during his entire career) — in the Ring of Honor inside Raymond James Stadium.
Loyalty? What’s that?
When talking about staying with the Bucs for his entire 16-year career and not leaving Tampa after he retired, Barber had great things to say about the Tampa Bay community.
“I’m never going anywhere.”
He said he and his wife bought property in Virginia and thought about moving there, but then they thought...
“Why would we leave here?”
Simple, yet amazingly refreshing. It’s becoming less and less common for football players — and athletes in general — to stick with one organization throughout the course of their careers. Barber did just that and stuck around after his playing days were over. He’s remained a big part of the community and the Buccaneer organization as a whole.
That kind of loyalty to the organization and the area is the kind of thing that you love to see. It’s what creates a family-like culture between the current players, the alums, and the fans. Franchises with long histories seem to have that kind of culture. The Oakland Raiders come to mind, for one.
Barber’s commitment to the Bucs was apparent through his words in this press conference, but his actions back it up. You can take Vernon Hargreaves III’s word for it:
#Bucs DBs are in good hands with Ring of Honor inductee Ronde Barber nearby.— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) August 13, 2019
Vernon Hargreaves: "He'll take time out of his day to come meet with me. He doesn't have to do that." pic.twitter.com/Euu6GtUTEh
There was no keeping Ronde off the field
From Week 1 in 1998 through Week 17 of the 2012 season — 15 seasons — Barber was on the field. He owns the franchise record for games played (241), games started (232) and consecutive games started (215). That doesn’t mean he wasn’t ever banged up, of course. But there was no way he was missing a game.
“There was nothing that was gonna keep me off the field. I felt like I was better half-speed than the guy behind me. And that may not have been true, but that was my approach.”
Toughness and confidence are certainly good traits to have in the NFL, especially at the cornerback position. Barber had talked earlier about breaking out in the league after an injury to Anthony Parker. He said that stuck with him for the rest of his career, and that surely led to his drive to never miss a game. He didn’t want anyone taking his job.
Dungy’s lasting impact
Barber was asked about the influence that Tony Dungy had on him, and he gave an incredible answer, beginning with:
“Tony was the first person to believe in me.”
Barber then talked about Dungy’s humility, grace and commitment to excellence as things that still stick with him to this day.
“There should be more coaches like him.”
Barber credited Dungy for dealing with some big personalities on those Bucs teams, saying he was the leader those teams needed at that time. Then came a brief nod at the contrast between Dungy and Gruden, with Barber giving credit to both of them for their respective styles.
We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
This apparently wasn’t a part of his press conference, but it was still a great nugget (h/t Greg Auman):
Ronde Barber also said he’s seen the Bucs’ defensive playbook, and they showed maybe 5 percent in Friday’s game, he estimates.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 13, 2019
Bucs fans are rightfully excited about the future of this defense under new coordinator Todd Bowles. Last Friday’s preseason opener was a nice start, at least as far as the first team was concerned. But it sounds like we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
I’d encourage anyone and everyone to go check out Ronde Barber’s press conference in its entirety. The Buccaneer legend was thoughtful, genuine and gracious all throughout. It’s certainly worth your time, Bucs fans.
Barber’s Ring of Honor induction ceremony will take place in Week 3, when the Buccaneers host the Giants.