“Most Underrated Defender Of His Generation”

May 14th, 2013

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.

8 Responses to ““Most Underrated Defender Of His Generation””

  1. OB Says:

    Joe, if you are on a team, there has to be a system or the team doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter if it is in a sport, war, or marriage, there has to be a system.

  2. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Ronde will be forever missed.

  3. Meh Says:

    So is the argument from the detractors that no tampa-2 corner should ever make the hall of fame? That defense has been an monumental part of the NFL, and you don’t get better at playing that position than Barber. Period.

    I don’t think there is any argument for Ronde not making the hall.

  4. BuccFanInHawkeyeCountry Says:

    I know u don’t like the NBA Joes but bear with me for two or three sentences haha. Michael Jordan was part of a “system” Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. As was Kobe and Shaq. If you can master the system doesn’t that help make you a great and potentially a Hall of Fame player?

  5. lightningbuc Says:

    Deion Sanders might be the most overrated HOF’er of all time. He was able to concentrate solely on pass defense, since he had no desire to go to the line of scrimmage on running plays and attempt a tackle.

  6. Dooleymite:E-Tornado Says:


    Deion Sanders was a generational anamoly in the NFL, he did more than enough to reach the HOF as the term “shutdown corner” would not hold half the weight it holds today had Sanders not set that standard in the same fashion our own Warren Sapp got voted in for revolutionizing the DT position and the media couldn’t stand Sapp back in the day. Ronde will get in, hopefully he won’t have to wait too long to be enshrined, but this “system” knock is ridiculous and should be short-lived.

  7. crazy Says:

    The NFL didn’t fully appreciate the Bucs defensive scheme during the decade it dominated and still don’t even as others attempt to incorporate it into their own schemes. Like it or not, it’s gonna take a little more time to recognize that it took superior players like Ronde to make the disrespected Tampa 2 work so well for so long. If the copycats could have made it work with their players the Tampa 2 and Tampa players would be getting more respect.

  8. Capt. Tim Says:

    Ronde Barber fatigue??
    To misquote a favorite movie of mine( Gladiator)
    ” He is a soldier of Tampa. Honor Him!!”