(Ronde Barber photos courtesy of Tampa Bay Bucs)
Talk of Fame Network
Former Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber will be a Class of 2018 candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he has the resume to make it as a finalist … if not make it, period.
He was a five-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler. He was an all-decade choice. He won a Super Bowl. He was part of one of this generation’s great defenses. And he had 47 career interceptions and 14 returns for touchdowns.
So two obvious questions: 1) Which was his most memorable score, and 2) were all those touchdowns by returns — punt returns, interception returns, fumble recoveries, you name it — the product of talent or luck?
“Aw, come on now,” Barber said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “you score a TD it’s never by luck. It bounces in your hands sometimes; you get hit in the face by a football … you’ve still got to score with it. I like to think it’s preparation meeting opportunity, right?
“There were a few of them where there was extreme skill involved. My second touchdown on defense was a sack/fumble, or a fumble (caused) by Donnie Abraham, and I picked it up and ran it for … like 15 yards for a touchdown. You had to be in the right place at the right time.”
So then it was by design?
“Intelligent design, let’s go with that,” said Barber, laughing.
But that doesn’t answer question number one. What was Barber’s most memorable score? Patience, people. He answered that in three parts.
“My first interception for a touchdown was actually against my neighbor here down in Tampa,” he said, “and that was Vinny Testaverde. And I had a pulled quad. That one always sticks out in my head.
“Probably my favorite one was against Peyton Manning in that dreadful Monday night loss (2003) we had against the Colts when Tony Dungy came back to town. It was my interception that was our last score. And then Peyton went on to score 21 unanswered points and won the game in overtime.
“Without question, the most memorable one was the (2002) NFC championship game — the last score in the Vet (Veteran Stadium in Philadelphia). We’d played that team earlier in the year and got beat. They had knocked us out of the playoffs the previous two years (and) got Tony fired here.
“You know, (it had a lot to do with) the gravity of the situation. When I talk to other Bucs’ fans and the people that were there … it was one of the more special plays in my entire football life. So, that’s it.”