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July 26, 2012 @ 6:09 pm
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Through All Of The Changes, One Thing Remains The Same: Ronde Barber

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Entering his 16th season in the NFL, all with the Bucs, Ronde Barber talks to the media on the first day of training camp in a rare appearance at the podium. 
Ronde Barber has been a mainstay in Tampa Bay over the last 15 seasons. Selected by the Tony Dungy-led Bucs in the third round of the 1997 draft, he’s seen several regime changes over the years.

From the coach that drafted him to fit into the new Tampa 2/Cover 2 defense, to Jon Gruden, the coach that he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with after winning Super Bowl XXXVII after the 2002 season. Barber’s former defensive backs coach last three years at the helm of the Buccaneers ship, and now, entering his 16th year in the NFL, he will play for a soft spoken disciplinarian who emphasizes defense.

It appears Barber has come full circle.

Barber is not only the leader of the defense, but he is the leader of the team. Rookies on both sides of the ball have talked about his work ethic, the way he carries himself, the legacy he is still making after 225 games and counting.

In a rarity at One Buc Place Thursday, Barber spent a few minutes at the podium, fielding questions from the media. After 15 seasons playing cornerback, Barber spoke about his new role as a free safety.

“I just want to play, I want to win,” Barber said. “It’s not very often you get to not only play 16 years, but to find new challenges in your 16th year and new opportunities to prove yourself. I’m very comfortable not being status quo, not doing what I’ve always done, and finding new ways to better myself and help this football team.”

Barber also spoke about changes; changes to the roster and to the coaching staff.

“Every year is different, you try to get better,” Barber said. “The year before is never good enough. There’s only one team that’s happy with their success last year. So you try to change. Change is what it is; it’s constant. There are never the same 53 guys on any roster every year.”

“It’s not college anymore, this is the dynamics of the NFL,” Barber said. “We did some things in the offseason to get better. We brought those players in. We signed some young guys, and hopefully the young guys we have on our team now…feel that urgency.”

“There’s no mistake that this league passes you by pretty quickly if you’re not having success,” Barber said. “This is a new team under new guidance and we’re going to approach it that way. So the changes are just changes. We’re not going to look back to ’11, ’10, or even ’09 or before the last regime. This is Coach Schiano’s team under a whole new direction and you get in where you fit in. You try to put the best 11 starters on each side of the ball every single snap. We’ll go from there.”

Barber has seen his fair of changes over the years, but one change he has seen recently is no doubt a welcomed one to the organization, the team, and the fans.

“Aqib is incredibly talented,” Barber said. “One thing about Aqib’s offseason this year, and you can ask anybody in the building, he’s been here since February on. I think he’s really committed… to changing that perception about himself. I admire him for that because he’s dealt with a lot in his four or five years he’s been with us. Those can’t be issues for him anymore. We got to talk about how good of a football player he is and let all of that other stuff just die away as it should be because he is incredibly talented, and his talent should speak for itself.”

Barber will start his 200th consecutive game when the season opens against the Carolina Panthers on September 9th. The Bucs are honoring Barber at Raymond James Stadium offering free parking, half-priced concessions (excluding alcohol), and a Ronde Barber gym sack as a giveaway to fans.

The veteran defensive back has recorded 913 tackles, 27 sacks, 43 interceptions, and been to five Pro Bowls. On November 21, 2010 Ronde Barber became the only player in NFL history with at least 25 sacks and 40 interceptions with a 21–0 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The jersey and gloves he wore in the game are retired to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One day, Barber will be enshrined and his bust will join them in Canton. But not yet; he still has work to do. 

Last modified on Thursday, 26 July 2012 20:22

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  • avatar

    I'm with Mr. Incredible. Every time I watched a game last year, in the middle of an abject disaster, I saw Ronde making tackle after tackle; carrying Dakota Watson in for a TD in the Dallas game, having every other DB picked on despite his age, shutting down Tony Gonzalez, yet according to a New England brahmin like Peter King he "had a down year" like everyone else. He should have had two more TD returns to take the overall lead, but oh well (Chicago and Dallas) and he couldn't blitz because we don't have another corner on the team. But they don't notice that because all they see is one game, and Vernon Davis is in that game. Three sacks and two picks, Ronde. Please give us SOMETHING to hang our hats on for these last eight years.
  • avatar

    I do hope he ends up in Canton but i don't think that it's the slam dunk that this article makes it seem. Lot's of cover 2 haters out there in the press. I am so happy to be able to watch him play for one more season (at least). Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    Often over the past 15 seasons I have said, "It's always Ronde." Those days are probably coming to an end after this season when # 20 finally retires and says, "It is what it is."
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