Ronde Barber = Jack Lambert?May 10th, 2013
One cool thing about former Bucs great Ronde Barber was his durability. Aside from Ronnie Lott (who like Barber, was moved to safety), Joe had never seen such a fearless tackling from a cornerback.
Lott was in another world as a physical corner, and as much as Joe loves Barber, he was not Lott’s equal. Any player who decided to go mano y mano with Lott, well, that was a concussion or a broken bone waiting to happen. Lott was a freaking headhunter of the highest order and Joe loved it.
But Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports believes fans should not compare Barber to his secondary peers like Deion Sanders and Darrell Green. Instead, Barber should be compared to Dick Butkus and Jack Lambert.
In other words, Barber was one of the toughest guys to play a tough game.
To many fans, Barber is known for his skill, exemplified by his signature interception return for a touchdown in the NFC championship game in 2002 against the Philadelphia Eagles. To players, however, he’s known for the kind of toughness usually reserved for end rushers and linebackers.
“That’s the toughest guy I’ve ever been around,” former Tampa Bay Bucs teammate Barrett Ruud, an eight-year NFL vet, told Yahoo! Sports in December. “Never misses a practice or a game. Every extra point attempt, he’s laying out for it.”
The toughness goes even beyond Barber’s iron man streak, which started in 1999 and ends with his retirement from the game on Thursday. Barber’s consecutive starts streak stands at 224 games, sixth all-time. The players ahead of him are all linemen, with the exception of the top man on the list, Brett Favre. Barber, now 38, is 5-10, 180 pounds – about the size of the average man walking down the street – and he never missed a game due to injury.
Adelson may be onto something. Not just was Barber a tough guy, he was durable. It’s one thing to seek out physicality, it’s quite another to be able to answer the bell the next week.
And Barber did so time after time after time.