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May 9, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
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Barber Bids Farewell; Eager To Start New Chapter

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Buccaneers legendary cornerback Ronde Barber formally announced his retirement from football after playing sixteen seasons with the team Thursday at One Buc Place. Barber was very emotional as he reflected upon his career with Tampa Bay and thanked everyone that helped him develop into the player and person he is today.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers legendary cornerback Ronde Barber officially announced his retirement Thursday at One Buc Place. Barber had many people to thank that helped him along the way and reflected back on his career with the Bucs. Below is a complete transcript of the press conference that took place on Thursday at One Buccaneer Place.

Bucs Co-Chairman Joel Glazer's opening remarks:
"First I want to thank everyone for joining us today on what is a bittersweet day for our franchise and our community, our fans, the NFL, my family and for me personally. Over the last 16 years we’ve seen a lot of changes here. We’ve seen a new stadium, we’ve seen uniforms change, players come and go – change upon change upon change. But over those years there’s been about one constant here in Tampa, a true professional in every sense. What I would consider the definition of greatness on and off the field. When we talk about Buccaneer men, I would say when we put a picture on the wall of a true Buccaneer man, that would be Ronde Barber. He’s been a once-in-a-lifetime player and when you see it every single week and watch it every single week, sometimes you take for granted what you are watching.

"There are fans throughout this country who go year upon year, season upon season and never get to witness what we’ve had the privilege to witness week after week. Sixteen seasons in the NFL all with one team. A franchise record of 241 games played and 232 starts. A franchise record for most interceptions in one season. An incredible streak of durability in this day and age, starting his final 215 games, the sixth longest streak in NFL history. Nine Defensive Player of the Week awards tied for the most in NFL history. 200 straight starts at cornerback, the most in NFL history. He’s the only player in NFL history with over 25 sacks and 40 interceptions. His 28 career sacks are the most ever by a defensive back in NFL history. He has 14 career return touchdowns, including 12 on defense which again is tied for third-most in NFL history. And five Pro Bowls. You can go on and on and on but an incredible, incredible career.

"But the true mark of greatness is not only what you see on the field, but it’s what you see off the field. Off the field Ronde has always been absolute true class – a role model to everyone in our community and all kids across the country. And behind every great man is a wonderful family. A hall of fame wife Claudia and two beautiful kids Yammile and Justyce. Again we’ve been blessed to watch it week in and week out for sixteen years.

"When I think back to some of my greatest memories in Buccaneer history, I think one stands out above all. I think of that freezing night in Philadelphia and number 20 with his arm in the air running 92 yards taking us to the Super Bowl. Words can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for this organization and the community. He’ll be sorely missed on the field but will always be a part of the Buccaneer family, and with that I turn it over to Ronde Barber."

Ronde Barber’s opening statement:
"I didn’t write anything, but I did make a list of everybody that I need to thank. Thank you Joel, it’s good to hear somebody else talk about me for once. I talk about myself a lot especially because of this decision I’m making today. And I would be lying if I said I made it today, I didn’t. I made this decision about a month ago and I was pretty certain that it was the right decision. I’d love to say I did this on my own but I didn’t.

"The best thing a player can have is a great family and I do. It starts at home with my mom, who’s not here. It’s funny I talked with her yesterday and she said I’ve been watching you boys play for 32 years and now I finally get to retire too. I have the most motivation any player can have, to have a great twin brother. He’s my inspiration more than I’ve probably ever said. I almost wanted him to succeed more than I wanted myself to succeed. I love him. I love everything that he is and what he’s become. But I’m a great football player because he’s a great football player. I think he would say the same about me. I go home every day to the best wife in the world and he has to deal with me a lot more now. My two girls, I don’t know if they’re really going to understand that daddy’s not going to put on the pads anymore, but they’ve got to deal with me too. I actually think they’re happy about it.

"Joel, Bryan, I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity that you gave me, far more than football. I’ve had a great opportunity to know you guys personally, away from this building, and that’s a special relationship and I thank you. Your sister, your brothers, I’ll always remember your father coming into the locker room and giving us that handshake and wishing me luck every game. I’m glad that you guys continued that tradition. I only wanted to talk about other things, your other holdings, but I always wanted to shake your hand and know that I was going to give you my best that day so thank you guys.

"My buddy Brian told me not to cry so I’m going to try not to, I’m going to get off of this, but I’ve had a lot of influences in my career and it’s not me without others. Obviously the opportunity that Coach [Schiano] gave me last year, working with you, working with the DBs, working with these young guys. Jeff Hafley, I know he’s in here somewhere, begging me to come back for a month. I really appreciate the opportunity they gave me last year. To have to change positions to be on this team and allowing me to do that, I thank you.

"I loved my first year in the league and I didn’t say it then, but I say it now. I had a coach in Tony Dungy, who I knew believed in me and he told me I was safe even though I didn’t believe it at the time. I had a defensive backs coach in Herman Edwards, who was ridiculously in love with my ability to play and stuck by me. I had a defensive coordinator in Monte Kiffin, who allowed me to become the player that I am and let me define the position that I played. He had great assistants that I’ll never forget – Rod [Marinelli], Lovie [Smith], Mike [Tomlin] came along and changed my career, Raheem [Morris] was one of my best friends and was my coach for a couple of years, Jimmy Lake, Rich Bisaccia our special teams coach, who still calls me a prick every day, I’m not sure why. We won a Super Bowl with a great head coach in Jon Gruden. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate every single thing that those guys gave me.

"Mark [Dominik], thanks. Four years sitting around wondering if I was going to be wanted back and you always wanted me back. Thank you, you didn’t have to do that. There were a lot of younger, faster guys that could probably play the position better than I can but you always wanted me back and I thank you. I was drafted here by Rich McKay and we talked about this earlier about the pretty unceremonious first year that I had here. It was a great year for me because I learned what it takes to be a professional and they stuck by me. Then six or seven years ago when I was 31 years old Bruce Allen gave me a contract to be here for five more years. It’s taken a lot for me to be here for 16 seasons.

"I look around this room and see guys who are absolutely the reason that I did not miss a game. I see Dave Levy in the back over there. Dave graciously made tape after tape after tape and I’d sit there and watch and watch and watch. And he gave me a room that they called my office. That’s why I was the smartest player. It wasn’t because I was the smartest guy.

"I had the ability to stay in this game for a long time and I played with some great, great players. I talked to [Warren] Sapp earlier today. He’s jiving me and telling me how great I am. I always wanted to be like that guy. When I first got here he was a presence in the locker room. He influenced me. To be a guy like him and to bring a guy like me under his wing, I cannot say how thankful I am. I played the game with John Lynch for seven or eight years. To this day he’s the biggest mentor in my life, and he’ll continue to be that. 

"I’ve forged some great friendships with guys; I see Donnie Abraham in here. Nobody talks about Donnie much because of me. It took me 16 years to get 12 more interceptions than he had in nine. I loved our relationship; I still do. I see Shelton [Quarles] is in here. After Hardy Nickerson left, and Hardy was a huge influence on my life just because of the way he approached football. But then Shelton became a good friend of mine and we won a championship together. Guys like him, Brian Kelly, Dexter Jackson, guys I shared a room with; I did it for you guys as much as I did it for myself. 

“I came up here not really knowing what to say. But I think the best way to end it is by saying I had fun. I love coming to work every day, even last year when [head coach Greg Schiano] beat us up.  I love football; I’ve always loved football. But football is just what I did, it’s not who I am and I’m ready to move on; I’m ready to do what’s next. You turn enough chapters in one book and you finally get to the end, you shut it, put it in your bookshelf, pick up another book. That’s what I’m willing to do right now.”

Barber Q&A with the media:
Why did you make the decision to retire now?
“It was time. There were a lot of factors. You can either strap weight on or not, but for me it was time. What would it take for me to get back in the - for my body take another pounding for the 17th year? I woke up about a month ago and I officially made this decision. It wasn’t worth it. It’s nothing against the guys in this room, the signing guys, making moves. That’s a necessity for this organization, I understand that; I respect that. I fought off competition for years, so it’s not about that. It’s just what I was supposed to do because this is where I am and I’m ready to be home.”

What’s next?
“I’m not ready to say what I’m doing, where I’m going. I’ll be playing a lot of golf. But yes I’ll be somewhere. Me and my manager have had a plan for a lot of years. I’ve met with guys in the offseason for the past three or four years. I enjoy [being on TV]. You’ll know soon enough.”

How meaningful is it to end things on your terms?
“It’s special. I’ve got a lot of peers here that didn’t get that opportunity and they’ve expressed to me how happy they are that I got to do that. It’s been a series of fortunate events for me to stay here, to not be hurt, to continue to get the opportunity to play. My desire was never to leave. Maybe when I was a free agent the first time I thought about it, but my desire was to be here and be a Buc. I love Tampa; Tampa loves me. I couldn’t imagine it going any other way.”

Did you ever second-guess your decision?
“There was no moment of clarity. It was a gradual thing. I finished the last game of the season last year at Atlanta, had a huge win. It’s funny – I walked up to Tony Gonzalez and said ‘Are you done man?’ and he said, ‘Yeah I think I’m done.’ Right. Makes a playoff run and wins a playoff game and wants to come back. But I think I knew that I was probably done too. Some people ask me, ‘Don’t you want a farewell tour? Don’t you want to make a run in the playoffs?’ Not really, I don’t need that. I don’t need it. Football has been good, it’s been very good to me, it’s provided me with a lot of opportunities in life. But when I made the decision, or when I moved to the decision that I was done, it was a pretty easy one. I was okay; I was content. When I talked to [Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano] earlier in the year, I told them I was probably good either way. Either way is probably not the answer I should have given. If I had said I want to play, I probably would be playing. But when I knew it was either way, I knew I was probably done.”

Talk about your evolution as a member of the community.
“It was easy to get involved here because I had such good role models. It was part of the deal. You had to do it. Guys like Derrick [Brooks], Hardy, Shelton now with his foundation. The Glazers have always been community first and they put that emphasis on the players. I grew up here, feeling that that had to be done. And when you have a little bit of success and you give of yourself back to the community; that was a great lesson. So I’ll always be part of this community. I’ve got nowhere else to go. It’s the only place my girls know as home. It’s where I want to be.”
Talk about being the last player from the Super Bowl team and what the future holds.
“Man that was a long time ago, 11 years ago. I had a feeling the way this team is being prepared, it certainly has the players, it has the right mental attitude. The vision is good. It’s strong and consistent, so there’s no reason it can’t be successful. And I expect them to. Our great teams backs in the late 1990 sand the early part of this century there was an imminent feeling about success. It was just a matter of time before we won. That was the feeling. And there’s no reason this team now can’t get that same feeling. Jon Gruden used to always say, just give me a ticket to the dance. This team should, they should be well on their way to purchasing a ticket.”
What was your favorite moment of your career?
“It’s hard to take the entirety of a 16-year career,” Barber said.  “There were a lot of big plays, a lot of big games. There was the play every one recognizes me for. I see somebody on the street they say I know where I was. I have to talk to Donovan McNabb later today, there were some games against him where I did ok. But I can’t say any one game or moment was my favorite. The journey was good. That’s my favorite part.?
Talk about your thoughts on potentially getting inducted into the Hall of Fame down the road.
“You keep talking about it. I was talking to a guy earlier today and I said I don’t mind being in the conversation. My stats, my longevity, etc, etc, they’ll speak for itself. But if they’re talking about it, there were some things I wish I would have done. I wish I would have gotten 30 sacks. I know I tried. We must have blitzed 50 times last year, It wasn’t like the old days, when they’ ask, who was this little No. 20 going through the A gaps making all the tackles. But I think my credentials speak for themselves. When those guys get in the room, I know I’ll have one guy rooting for me.”
Did the team honoring you last year help you make your decision?
“It wasn’t expected. Starting nickel. Move to safety. Starting safety, it was a nice even number and I was happy for it, but it didn’t affect my decision. All the records and streaks, to be honest with you I get confused on the numbers all the time. I’ve heard them a lot the last two days but I promise you a couple weeks ago I couldn’t have told you how many games I started. That was never my motivation. It was only to keep playing. You never want to come off the field because once you do, somebody will be there to take your job. Dwight Smith was always there. He’s in the background of that picture right there. But in the back of my mind, I always thought I could judge myself and my play better than anybody else. That was just my mentality. This organization is always been great to me and I was gale I was able to give something back to them. Now it’s time on move on to the next phase of my life.”
How would you like to be remembered?
I’d like them to say that was the toughest dude [they] ever saw play. I was in Sarasota yesterday – my wife broke her hand and we had to get a plaster thing done – and the lady, who I’d never met before, said ‘you’re a lot smaller than I thought.’ Sadly enough, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. But it’s true. I was never the biggest, never the fastest, but I figure if I could be tough and persevere, maybe I’d make it. If you go back and watch the games and people always say he seems like the luckiest guy in the world, the ball always just seems to bounce his way or he’s always in the right place at the right time. I’d say that was by design. The guys that I played against, my peers, the guys that competed against me. They knew I was a tough guy. When it’s all said and done, that’s what I want to be remembered for.”
If you had a mulligan, would you use it?
“No. I don’t like mulligans. I needed to struggle at the beginning. I taught me that if I wanted it bad enough I’d have to work for it. I needed that doubt. I needed people to tell me I couldn’t do it. I always carried a chip on my shoulder that’s just the way it is.”
Last modified on Thursday, 09 May 2013 22:50

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  • avatar

    One thing is certain the fans of Tampa Bay got to see one of the best Defensive Backs in the history of the NFL. A leader on and off the field and one of the greatest role models for the youth of Tampa Bay. We fans always knew that Ronde would give every ounce of his being as a player on the field and as a role model off the field. You will be severely missed and never be replaced in the hearts of the Tampa Bay fans. Ronde always strived for perfection and I believe that he came as close to reaching that goal as anyone ever has. Perfection is a hard thing to achieve and duplicate. I wish him every success and Gods Love for him and his family in the coming years. Thank you Ronde for everything.
  • avatar

    Just can't believe that's it. No words. They finally had the guys around him to get him those last few picks and sacks... We are going to miss you, sir. Thank you again, and your remarks were perfect. You remembered everybody. What a class act; speaking of which, I'm guessing acting for the next step. Just a hunch.
  • avatar

    May Rhonde Barber be called to the Hall of fame Be named on first Vote, Along with Derrick Brooks and John Lynch all these Tampa Players deserved to be ther. I believe Rhonde Barber Retired at the right time. I would love to the Tampa staff offer Rhonde Barber a chance to coach and teach these young Defense this year after he takes a well Retirement Vacation-GO RHONDE GO> I follow his entired career at Tampa bay Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    You say you followed his entire career @ Tampa Bay? So sixteen seasons you follow this guy? And in all that time never once paid close enough attention to see how his name is spelled. Hard to believe.
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