Yesterday veteran cornerback Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced he will be hanging up his cleats and retiring from the game of football. Barber had an impressive 16 year career all with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which included a Super Bowl championship in 2002, five Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections, 47 interceptions in which eight were returned for touchdowns, 1,234 tackles, 28 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. Barber is the Buccaneer franchise leader in interceptions and defensive touchdown returns and is the only player in league history with 40 or more interceptions and 20 or more sacks.
Barber’s leadership and toughness on and off the field won’t show up in the stat line, but he brought 100% effort to the field every day. Out of his 16 years playing football, Barber went 15 consecutive years without missing a game, over 13 consecutive seasons without missing a single start.
Great career but Hall of Fame great?
Let’s look at some other Hall of Famers or soon-to-be Hall of Fame players and their careers (tackles not an official stat until 2001).
Deion Sanders (Hall of Famer)
13 seasons, 8 Pro Bowl selections, 6 All-Pro selections, 53 career interceptions in which nine were returned for touchdowns, 492 tackles, 10 forced fumbles and 1 sack.
Aeneas Williams (Eligible for Hall of Fame)
10 seasons, 8 Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections, 55 career interceptions in which nine were returned for touchdowns, 677 tackles, 8 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks.
Champ Bailey (Current Player, highly considered as a lock for the Hall of Fame)
Currently 14 season, 12 Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections, 52 career interceptions in which four were returned for touchdowns, 799 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks.
Barber’s career clearly stacks up to some of the best of this era. Before writing this article and just hearing word of Barber’s retirement, I wasn’t sure he was of hall of fame caliber. After looking back on his career and comparing him with other great players of this era, he deserves the vote.