Joe must admit he’s suffering from Ronde Barber fatigue.
Please do not misunderstand. Joe thinks the world of Barber and, yes, believes someday Barber will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Or at least should be.
But Joe ran a huge endless Barber stories for three whole days. Of course, for a guy leaving the game like Barber, it was warranted coverage. But even Joe was having his fill reading Barber story after Barber story for days.
The way Joe looks at it, if a hardcore Bucs fan like Joe was getting tired of reading about Barber, then so too, Joe guessed, were his readers.
But this story Joe is bringing to his readers, well, Joe thinks it is extraordinary.
Jeff Chadiha of ESPN wrote a long piece mocking those who don’t understand how good of a player Barber was, and goes so far to proclaim Barber as the most underrated defensive player in NFL annals.
The easy knock on Barber was always that he was more a product of Tampa’s Cover 2 scheme than a gifted lockdown defender. He wasn’t asked to shut down one half of the field, and nobody ever saw him as the second coming of Deion Sanders. The truth is that Barber was plenty effective at what the Bucs did demand from him on a weekly basis. He played within the defense, displayed a knack for the big play and never shied away from contact. Few defensive backs with his size — he was listed at 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds — were as willing to throw their bodies around the way Barber did.
These are the parts of his game that should be best remembered. The reality is that it will be harder to measure Barber’s excellence once he’s eligible for the Hall of Fame. The NFL is tilting so much toward offense these days that defensive players will have a tougher time being immortalized. Iconic talents like Sapp, Woodson and Ray Lewis don’t have to worry about such issues. Understated stars like Barber face an entirely different problem.
It might be easier to see this another way if Barber had Sapp’s brashness or Lewis’ charisma. It also would’ve helped his cause had he played in a bigger market, as his brother surely could attest. The beauty of Barber’s game was that he was so consistently adept at the little things that result in big moments. He impressed you more with his savvy than he ever did with sensational highlights.
Joe has written the following before but it bears repeating: This nonsense that Barber was a system cornerback, Joe just wants to ring someone’s neck when he hears this.
Joe Montana was a system player. So too was Lawrence Taylor. And Franco Harris, as well as Kellen Winslow. All four are considered to be either the best or among the very best at their positions.
Hell, every player is a system player. The frauds who claim Barber is a system player, well, that’s akin to suggesting others freelanced each and every play.
Look, every team plays within a system. To knock a guy for that is really just reaching for an excuse to drag a guy down because someone isn’t intelligent enough or observant enough to bring a better premise to the table.