The Public Thank You

August 13th, 2019

“The Sage” Ira Kaufman delivers in his thrice-weekly column.

BY IRA KAUFMAN columnist

It was approximately 6 p.m. on the evening of Jan. 19, 2003, when Ronde Barber entered Buccaneer lore.

In returning a Donovan McNabb pass 92 yards for a touchdown, Barber closed down the Vet and opened the Super Bowl door for a franchise that had seen its previous two seasons end with lopsided playoff losses in Philadelphia.

Derrick Brooks will never forget the interception that clinched a 27-10 triumph and he readily admits he didn’t hustle to help Barber reach the end zone.

“I was looking up in the stands and seeing how quiet it was,” Brooks says. “You could hear a mouse drop.”

How about escorting your teammate downfield?

“I didn’t do that because I knew he was gone,” says Brooks. “I was jogging, looking up at the stands. That was a signature moment. Thank you, Ronde.”

On Tuesday, the Bucs say thank you to No. 20 in a public way with a press conference saluting Barber’s entry into the Buccaneer Ring of Honor Sept. 22, when Tampa Bay faces the Giants in Week 3 at Raymond James Stadium.

Despite five Pro Bowls, All-Decade honors and a slew of imposing statistics, Barber hasn’t made the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first two years of eligibility.

That’s a travesty.

The same group of selectors who disparage John Lynch’s career statistics won’t recognize a statistical marvel. Start with durability — Barber didn’t miss a game during his final 15 seasons. Add in 47 interceptions, 28 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 1,028 tackles and you begin to understand the man’s unique versatility.

On Monday, I asked Bucs cornerback coach Kevin Ross for his thoughts on Barber.

“Is he available?,” Ross joked. “Smart. First of all, smart player. He put himself in a lot of positions to make plays. And when he was in position to make plays, he made them. Good blitzer, good cover guy, you could do a lot of things with him.”

The Bucs did exactly that and Barber responded with 197 passes defended, second only to new Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. He also scored 14 non-offensive touchdowns, fourth all-time behind Devin Hester, Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson.

That’s pretty good company.

“Ronde hung around long enough to break my records,” Brooks said with a smile. “Great player, great Buccaneer. His resume stacks up with the best of them. I’ve seen Ronde play through several injuries. One in particular when his thumb was jacked up, a ligament missing and he ends up getting a pick in that game.

“Another time he was hobbled by a knee injury, he gets a pick, takes it 80 yards. It’s a young man who says I can go out and give it my all. It’s not just able to play hurt, it’s playing well when you’re hurt — and that’s what he was able to do.”

Barber did it all, and he did it with an attitude.

“He’d tackle physically,” Brooks said. “Ronde played with an old chip on his shoulder.”

Mandatory Precision

As a key component in the Tampa 2, Barber became a film fanatic. He studied tendencies, looking for any edge he could find.

“We knew we had to be better than our opponent because we were a defense that wasn’t complicated,” Brooks said. “We had to be on every detail. We had to know ourselves better than our opponent and at the same time, know our opponent better than themselves.”

Barber seemed to take particular delight in schooling McNabb, who was not prone to turnovers during an accomplished career. In frigid Philadelphia, Barber’s legendary pick turned out the lights.

“I was not nervous,” Brooks said of that fateful drive. “We talked about that going into the game. If they’re rallying, continue to do what we’ve been doing. That’s what Ronde did on that play.

“Ronde had been disguising the entire game off the slot. Disguising when he’s blitzing, setting up his moves, setting up his zone drops. On that particular play, he slid in there, he faked and Donovan didn’t see him. He picked off the slant and it was sweet music running down that field.”

Ira Kaufman launched his full-time NFL work in 1979 as a beat writer for the New York Giants. That’s right, nineteen freakin’ seventy-nine. The Sage of Tampa Bay sports joined in July of 2016. He can be seen on Tailgate Sunday during football season on FOX-13, and he’s a Monday regular year-round on BayNews 9. You can also hear Ira twice-weekly on the wildly popular Ira Kaufman Podcast, and he’s a national star on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays at 5 p.m. from early September through the Super Bowl. 

33 Responses to “The Public Thank You”

  1. D-Rome Says:

    I hope the Glazers surprise Ronde with a number retirement. He deserves it.

  2. diggler Says:

    Great great read thanks Ira!

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Too few…..but one of the greatest Buc moments…….the joy of knowing you are SB bound……

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    The Mount Rushmore of Buccaneers is incomplete unless the great Rhonde Barber is on full display!!!!!!!!!!!! Shame that the sage waste time with lynch instead of giving full deserved effort to the hall of fame campaign to the Great Rhonde Barber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Hodad Says:

    For me, that was the best moment as a Buc fan when Ronde took that pick to the house in Philly. More so then any play in the S.B.. Why? Because it was in Philly, last game at the Vet, and it was a knock out punch to the bully that stole our lunch money for years. Thanks Ronde, you deserve all the accolades you get.

  6. tmaxcon Says:

    No one hangs on to one year wonders like low standard bucfan…. let it go…. it’s pathetic. 55 and barber never won a damn thing without sapp carrying them…. no one worships backups like bucfan

  7. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    Thanks, Ronde!

    To put an exclamation point on shutting down the Vet, the (anti-Tampa?) NFL had the Bucs travel to Philadelphia to start the next season, and we whipped that a$$ to open the new stadium, too! 😀

  8. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    The greatest catch in Buccaneer football history!

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    greatest play in buc history….

    GO BUCS!!!

  10. Frank Pillow Says:

    It’s not hyperbole to call Barber one of the greatest Buccaneers of all-time and a lion-hearted, position-defining CB. League wide and in this city other players got the press, while Barber got results and got ‘em when they mattered the most. Sure some might call him a system CB- but he was the one who set the mold. He was the system. The best part of Barber’s football story is that he struggled early on- it didn’t come easy. He was as ‘lunch pail’ as any CB can be and did a ton of dirty work in/around the line of scrimmage and was a world class blitzer. Kudos to Barber for this honor- Now, Ira, get this man to Canton!

  11. Jeff Says:

    I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. When I need a little pick me up I often watch that pick 6 on YouTube.

  12. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    Pound-for-pound perhaps one of the best tackling cornerbacks ever. The anti-Deion.

  13. TampaTown Says:

    “You could hear a mouse drop” I think the correct phrase is “you could hear a pin drop” but DB is right, that’s the thing I remember most about that play. The whole stadium was totally silent. That and Andy Reid looking the other way, refusing to watch Ronde run into the end zone. Thank you Ronde for the greatest play in Buccaneer history. Our Mount Rushmore is Lynch, Sapp, Brooks and Barber, carved into stone in the same order they were drafted, a tribute to the best era of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and each number should be retired. To all four I say Thanks for the Memories.

  14. D-Rome Says:

    it’s pathetic. 55 and barber never won a damn thing without sapp carrying them…. no one worships backups like bucfan

    What did Warren Sapp win without Brooks and Barber?

    How many Pro Bowls and First Team All Pro selections did Sapp have after he left the team in 2004? I’ll tell you. Zero.

    How many Pro Bowl and First Team All Pro selections did Brooks and Barber have after Sapp left in 2004?

    4 Pro Bowls and 2 First Team All Pro selections for both Brooks and Barber.

    More importantly, Sapp didn’t help the Raiders win anything, not one winning season. The Bucs still had winning seasons after Sapp left. I happen to think Warren Sapp is the greatest player in team history but your claims that Brooks, Lynch, and Barber were backups without Sapp is patently absurd!

  15. unbelievable Says:

    47 interceptions
    28 sacks
    15 forced fumbles
    14 non-offensive TDs
    197 passes defended

    No one else has those kind of numbers. Get this man in the hall!

    Oh, and tm_ax is still an idiot.

  16. Buc4evr Says:

    Barber was snubbed for the Pro bowl if I remember correctly. And his comment to the reporters after the game was priceless. Ronde’s play was the most important play in Buc’s history, yet the HOF won’t even acknowledge him or all his accomplishments. The HOF is dead to me… don’t even get me started on Simon Rice.

    Btw, there was nothing finer than burning down the Vet, putting big mouth Philly fans in a 10 year depression, and destroying the Beagles pre arranged SB party after the game. All that champagne, food, and SB shirts and hats went to waste. Lol.

  17. Buccfan37 Says:

    On that play Barber set off a firestorm of Buc fan jubilation.

  18. Says:

    Barber should get in the HOF before Lynch

  19. Mikadeemas Says:

    I recently re watched that Philly game. I think what gets forgotten is Ronde also had a strip sack and several passes defended. He had a monster game!! GO BUCS!!!

  20. Magadude Says:

    One of the great plays in a great game of Bucs history. What I liked just as much was opening the next season in the new stadium in Philly and the Bucs whacked them hard again! We don’t need to remember the game…and season…that followed.

  21. lokog Says:

    i wont ever forget barber sealing the win either

  22. Barbosa Says:

    I was a season ticket holder then. When Barber made the pick, my best friend and I won the NFL lottery for season ticket holders and were able to get season tickets at face value. What a memorable three weeks of football. I also remember there were Eagles fans at the Super Bowl. They were so spiteful that they went to the game just to spite Tampa fans who would have bought the tickets. So happy we beat the bullies, thanks Barber for that memory!

  23. theodore Says:

    If I remember that game correctly, he had more than just the greatest play in Buccaneer history. He had other plays, too, including a strip sack(?).

  24. Brandon Says:

    Only disrespectful morons continue to spell his name “Rhonde”.

  25. Mike Johnson Says:

    Enjoyed reading this article here Ira. Keep’em comin!

  26. Hodad Says:

    Tmax, I agree with you on a lot of things you say, but Ronde’s numbers, sacks, picks, time played can’t be ignored. Ronde sealed the victory in the NFC title game, and Brooks sealed the victory with his pick six in the SB. It wasn’t Sapp who did any of those things. He was a great player, but to say he was the only one on that team is just plain ignorant.

  27. Pickgrin Says:

    Get him in the hall Ira!

    You need to do some serious arm twisting this year Sage.

    Because these Bozo HOF voters that have passed on Ronde as a finalist for 2 straight years and won’t even let Simeon into the conversation – are the same nitwits that thought Jason Taylor was somehow worthy of a first ballot honor…

    Ronde Barber revolutionized the Nickle CB position. Literally re-wrote the book.

    Has Tackle/INT/Sack combo totals that no DB in the 100+ year history of the league has ever achieved.

    Has more TDs than any Defensive (non -returner) player in the history of the NFL!

    What Ronde lacked in size and speed – he more than made up for with toughness, durability, anticipation, intelligence and preparation.

    His stats, his ironman status of consecutive games started, the respect he drew from everyone in the league who had to face him, the fact he played at a very high level even late in his career at an advanced age…

    How is this guy not an automatic “Yes” when it comes to HOF votes being cast?

    Make them understand Ira!

  28. Mark Says:

    Tmax;POS, All day, everyday

  29. Destinjohnny Says:

    Whether it was…..ronde had it

  30. FortMyersDave Says:

    It’s be pretty frieking amazing if Ira could get Lynch and Ronde into gold jackets next year and I’m with Pickgrin about Ira pulling out all the stops to get the necessary votes and I really thought Lynch would go in last year but that journalist from the Orlando paper simply did not get the job done in Ira’s absence. Twist some arms Ira, get down and dirty with the other writers and bring home some gold jackets and bring some Buc busts to Canton!

  31. Buczilla Says:

    Some loon that writes for the local paper wrote an article detailing how Brian Dawkins was more deserving of the hall of fame than John Lynch. (Way to root for the home team buddy) He uses stats to back up his opinion and while I disagree, I can understand where he is coming from. Using his criteria, Barber has better safety numbers (sacks/tackles) than Dawkins and he primarily played corner!

    Our dudes are getting hosed by the holier than thou football “geniuses” in the Northeast. I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with hof politics, so I will use a phrase from real politics. Drain the damn swamp of everyone but Ira and let him pick the replacements. 😛

  32. Just Sayin’ Says:

    Disgraceful that he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I’d be ashamed if I couldn’t get the message across to the HOF voters. It’s obvious Tampa is a disrespected market, but what he did on the field and off is indisputable.

  33. Destinjohnny Says:

    Barber would be a great gm