Barber joins Bucs’ Ring of Honor

by Gary Shelton on August 14, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

 

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

Ronde Barber ran again Tuesday afteroon.

Once more, the stadium fell silent. Once more, the yard stripes flast past him. Once more, he made perhaps the single-greatest play in the history of a franchise, and he led the Tampa Bay Bucs to the Super Bowl.

Barber, the last great Buc player, was in a starring role against Tuesday. He turned back time, and he returned greatness to town when the team announced he would be the 13th inductee in the team's Ring of Honor.

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It was Barber's 92-yard interception return for a touchdown, remember, that put the pillow over the face of the Philadelphia Eagles that year. General manger Rich McKay, sitting in the press box, is memorable for the soundtrack he provided. "Run, Ronde, run," he shouted that day. "Don't ever stop running."

In some ways, Barber never did. For 16 seasons, he was a star performer for the Bucs, and he played in 215 straight games, and he had 47 interceptions and 28 sacks. He was one of the most popular, most instictive, most dedicated players have ever had.

“Instincts are uncoachable," Barber said. "If you follow the game, you figure out where the game is supposed to go. Being in the right place at the right time, there is a science to it. But there is also something to be said for 'create your own luck."

In other words, the more prepared you are, the more you can anticipate. And the more you can anticipate, you more you find yourself around the ball.

Barber told stories of the old days Tuesday. Of his rookie season, when he played just one game (and was worn out by Arizona receiver Rob Moore). To the refinement of the nickel back. To the teammates such as Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp and John Lynch and Simeon Rice.

It means something, okay. It isn't the Hall of Fame, and in particular, the Bucs' Ring of Honor isn't dotted by Hall of Famers (there are four: Lee Roy Selmon, Brooks, Sapp and Tony Dungy).  But is a bit of immortality, a way for fans to remember moments.

And so it was with Barber, the kid who was drive by the fear of failure.

So who else should go into the Ring? Who else should fans be able to look skyward to remember?

1. Hardy Nickerson, linebacker: Nickerson was the first real leader among Bucs players, a feisty linebacker who challenged his own teammates for dogging it in the weight room.

2. Simeon Rice, defensive end: He's knocked for not playing the run, but who ran the ball on the Bucs while he was here? His coaches will tell you that was malarky; his numbers will tell you he belongs.

3. Monte Kiffin, defensive coordinator: So he was an assistant coach? So what? For more than a decade, he led the No. 1 unit in the league? What do Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden have in common? That's right. Kiffin.

4. James Wilder, running back: A star from the early days. He should be remembered.

5. Batman Wood, linebacker. A tough warrior who shouldn't be forgotten by the years. Wood deserves to be honored.

6. Tony Mayberry, center: Mayberry went to three Pro Bowls at a time it would have been easy to overlook him.

7. Warrick Dunn, running back: I love Dunn, but it would be easy for him to be overlooked. After all, he had more yardage for the Falcons that he did hear. But he was quick and relentless.

8. Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle: A lot of fans are down on the departed McCoy, but he did make six Pro Bowls. Eventually, the town will warm to him. But it's a tough ring to make with no playoff games.

9. Mike Evans, wide receiver: He's still early in his career, but if you had to bet on any current player, who else would you bet on?

10. Brad Johnson, quarterback: Johnson is thrown in with mediocre quarterbacks to have won a Super Bowl, but that year, he outplayed his more hyped rival in every week of the playoffs. And he did win a ring.

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