“All Of You Who Judged Me Unfairly Were Wrong”

February 20th, 2023

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The world would be a better place if everyone was as honest and forthcoming as Rondé Barber.

Ask the new member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame a question and the Buccaneer icon freely speaks his mind. Whether he’s talking about the impact of his Hall induction or his mindset playing for the offensively challenged Bucs nearly 25 years ago, Barber remains candid.

Fellow Hall of Fame voter Clark Judge and I had an opportunity to speak with Tampa Bay’s historic cornerback on “The Eye Test for Two” podcast, where Barber weighed in on a variety of topics in his usual unfiltered style.

Bucs legend Rondé Barber.

On the significance of being recognized by the Hall:

“I’d say it’s very important for one particular reason. Guys like Brett Favre have universal respect and love in the game. Those kind of guys, without question, everybody knows how good they are. For me, I don’t think everyone knew how good I was. You’d hear ‘System guy, anybody could do it.’ That hurts when you go back and look at the totality of what I accomplished and then people still have doubts whether or not I was a really good football player.

“He’s O.K., he had a fine career. No, I had a pretty unprecedented career. The numbers speak for themselves. The durability speaks for itself. The number of big plays should be screaming at you. The Hall of Fame for me is basically a feather in my cap that says basically all of you who judged me unfairly were wrong.”

On scoring 14 non-offensive touchdowns, fourth on the all-time list:

“The TDs came because I was a very good technician and I was always finding ways to get around the football. You don’t score six TDs on fumble returns unless you’re running to the ball. You don’t score that many times by accident and I’m definitely proud of that.

“We have a good one here in Carlton Davis. He’s great on the line of scrimmage and I love his technique, but he doesn’t take the ball away. He needs to take the ball away and people will start giving him his respect for the way he plays the game.”

How about four former Buc defenders entering the Hall within the past decade?

“We were a great defense and we were a great defense for a long period of time. Monte Kiffin should probably be getting Hall of Fame consideration. If you take Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp and put them on any team in the NFL, they’re likely Hall of Famers. They were that good. John Lynch and I had to do it a little differently. Now you’ve got Simeon Rice with 122 sacks, man. Aren’t those Hall of Fame numbers?

“I know edge rushers aren’t getting the type of love they have in the past and Simeon was definitely a little one-dimensional. Rod Marinelli was great with Simeon. We got in some third-down situations and Rod took Simeon out of the game for a while. He told him, ‘You start doing the other thing and I’ll start letting you rush the passer.’ Sim, to his credit, got better in the run game.”

On the defense’s message to the offense?

“We expected our team to score 17 points, that’s it, and not allow the other team to score while we’re on the sideline. We understood that we needed to be great. The emphasis on our team was defense and Tony Dungy was that kind of coach. When Jon Gruden came in, I don’t think the offense got exponentially better, but it showed up in the playoffs for sure when we won our Super Bowl.”

Barber recalled the 1999 season opener against the Giants. The Bucs lost 17-13 as New York scored TDs off a Trent Dilfer fumble and a Dilfer interception. The Giants finished with only 4 first downs and 107 yards of total offense.

“They beat us at home and scored twice on defense. We came in the next day and Tony told us we weren’t good enough on defense. We’re all like, hold on. What? We weren’t good enough? The idea, and it’s an idea that permeated for us, is we had to outplay the other team’s defense.

“Our captains had a talk with Tony and said ‘Tony, that’s not fair. That’s ridiculous for you to put that on us.’ He apologized later, but in reality, that was our expectation with our defense. We didn’t need an offense. We just needed them not to make mistakes that cost us the game. When they did, we lost football games.”

On picking his identical twin brother as his Hall of Fame presenter.

“Tiki as my presenter isn’t even a question. We shared a womb together and he’s an all-time great in the NFL.”

Yes, that warranty includes USED vehicles!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

33 Responses to ““All Of You Who Judged Me Unfairly Were Wrong””

  1. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    In my opinion, Barber was better corner than Brooks was linebacker or than Sapp was a DT. Simply the second best Buccaneer of all time. After Lee Roy Selmon for you guys suffering from recency bias.

  2. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    In my opinion, Barber was a better corner than Brooks was a linebacker or than Sapp was a DT. Simply the second best Buccaneer ever. After Lee Roy Selmon for those of you with recency bias.

  3. DrunkinYbor Says:

    I was hoping It’s was the.one saying that to all the haters who.doibted his commitment I’m getting Ronde into the hall. That bieng said Ronde is absolutely right. If he played in Dallas you can take stats away from him and he still would walk in.

  4. DrunkinYbor Says:

    I was hoping Ira was the one….little Keyboards and spell check suxk

  5. Red Skeleton Says:

    Ronde was a “system guy” but only because he DEFINED the system. Every other cover 2 system was just a cover 2 system. The “Tampa2 was not the Tampa 2 without Ronde!

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    “that was our expectation with our defense. We didn’t need an offense.”


    That, is exactly correct. In the 2002 SB run, that Bucs defense allowed a NET of 3 points, over 3 games, all vs Top 8 offenses. The only reason the Bucs didn’t end up being positive on net points is because the TD return by Ronde vs the 49ers was taken back because Rice smacked a guy in the head away from the ball.

    The 2002 Bucs defense is, undoubtedly, the best pass defense in the history of the NFL. Additionally, from a statistical standpoint, they are, by every metric, the best defense in the history of the game that won a SB. The only other team that can compete with the 2002 Bucs, is the 1990 Eagles, who didn’t win the SB.

    As for Ronde, saying he’s a system guy is some truly stupid commentary. Ronde defined the position, the nickel corner, in the most important scheme of his era, the Tampa 2. Additionally Ronde was the best tackling defensive back in the NFL in his era, as well as the best pass rushing defensive back of his era. Plus he scored a ton of points, in addition to making the biggest play in the history of franchise, when he shutdown that garbage stadium in Philly.

  7. sasquatch Says:

    Ronde probably doesn’t want the coach’s life, but man I’d love to have him coach DBs. Probably be a great defensive coordinator and maybe a HC. I’d hire him as GM immediately if the Glazers wanted to move on from Jason Licht. The man knows football.

  8. Rod Munch Says:

    sasquatch – Based on listening to Ronde, I don’t think he wants to coach, I think he wants to be a GM, and if he ever gets that chance, I think he’s going to be a good one. I’ve been a bit surprised he hasn’t taken jobs in the front office to just get his name out there, but then again John Lynch got the job with no front office experience (and has done a great job).

    But I have no idea if he wants to do any of that stuff.

  9. Aceofaerospace Says:

    I once asked Derrick Brooks how many Super Bowls they left on the table because of Dungys puttrid offenses. He wouldn’t answer. I bet Ronde would answer that. BTW, he should have been a first ballot hall of famer also. Ridiculous milk toast offenses still piss me off.

  10. ChriaSimma Says:

    This is good stuff.

  11. Rod Munch Says:

    Aceofaerospace – you should ask how many Super Bowls were left on the table because Jon Gruden is an idiot and destroyed the team, letting Sapp walk and cutting Lynch, so he could sign Charlie Garner, Tim Brown and a bunch of injured 35-year old offensive lineman.

    The team wasn’t old in 2003, they still had a window, and Gruden closed that window. Gruden got Rich McKay fired, the guy who put that SB roster together, then put his hand picked stooge, Bruce Allen in the front office, and they destroyed that team in record time.

  12. ‘79 Defense Says:

    I wonder how upset those guys are on that defense about the offense’s inability to have success. They seem to keep quiet about it, but sometimes (like in Ronde’s comments) you hear the frustration. I’m sure it would be a hell of a lot more frustration if they hadn’t gotten that one SB championship. Thank goodness for that.

    Congrats Ronde!

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    ‘79 Defense – the window was 1999-2002.

    Before 1999, the defense wasn’t what it would become. It was a really good defense in 1997, took a slight step back in 1998, but 1999 is when the defense started its run, and they got one BS call away from the SB.

    Then, in 2003, the defense started out the year dominant, but was brought down by injuries. People don’t seem to remember what happened, but Brian Kelly getting hurt in the Indy game, flipped that entire season upside down. Up until that play, the defense was easily #1 in the NFL and looked like themselves. But, the team lose Dexter Jackson in FA, and moved Dwight Smith from 3rd corner, to safety to make up for the loss in FA. Then, when Kelly got hurt, they had nothing in terms of depth at corner. In that very game, everyone talks about the comeback from the Colts, but all he did was throw at Kelly’s replacement. The defense went from easily the best in football, to merely being excellent, and that mixed with Gruden’s overrated offense, and Gruden throwing a fit and sending Keyshawn home and getting McKay fired… ugh.

    People talk way too much about the offense, but it was Gruden that killed that run. The team had another 4 years or so left after 2003, and Gruden blew it up because was sick of saying he won the SB with Dungy’s team (which he did).

  14. GrafikDetail.com Says:

    gotta love Ronde!

  15. mark2001 Says:

    Always thought Ronde should be in the HOF. But it took “the Mailman Ira Kaufman” to deliver him.

  16. ‘79 Defense Says:


    Good recap. Some people come down hard on Gruden, but I don’t. It’s like people blame him for winning a SB. I don’t look at him at all like a Switzer in the sense that anyone could have come in and got it done. He was the right guy at that time and got us our first championship.

    As far as that Colts game in ‘03, I was there for that one. Ugh. Hard to make excuses but a bad call near the end cost us the game. If I’m not mistaken the NFL admitted to it. That was just a weird season. Panthers game Gramatica misses the extra point after we score on the last play of regulation— and we go on to lose. Some really unbelievable losses.

  17. Aceofaerospace Says:

    Rod Munch, I agree with most of what you said also. I think Gruden heard the talk about how he won with Dungys team. He won with Dungy and Kiffens defense, but certainly not Dungys offense. I think he tried too hard to put his stamp on the whole team and it was not pretty in the end.

  18. BucsfanFred Says:

    79 defence, Gruden did screw up that team. First he brought in fossils for Linemen. His ego drove us up and down from there. If not for Monte Kiddin we never would have won more than three games a season.

  19. BucsfanFred Says:


  20. BucsfanFred Says:

    Aceofspace, I have always felt gruden wanted to erase Dungy’s name off the team also.

  21. SlyPirate Says:

    Jack Burton Mercer … Barber is the 2nd best Buc all time?

    I love Barber but 2nd. No way!!! Barber even said so himself in his quotes.

    Top 10 Bucs All-Time
    1. Mike Evans (just holding his spot)
    2. Brooks
    3. Selmon
    4. Sapp
    5. Wirfs (Just holding his spot. Could finish 1-2)
    6. Barber
    7. Alstott (probably just me)
    8. Lynch
    9. LVD
    10. TB12

  22. Mike S Says:

    Ronde is a class act. HOF career no doubt.

  23. ‘79 Defense Says:


    Maybe he did screw up the team afterwards, but won a SB. Again, I don’t know why people want to disregard that monumental achievement for what had been such a sorry franchise. He was the right guy who arrived at the right year. Why people want to blame him for winning the whole damn thing is beyond me.

  24. Colonel Angus Says:

    Every player is a system guy. Nobody gets in playing backyard football.

  25. Goatfarmer Says:

    Awesome. Ronde for President.

  26. Bojim Says:

    Thank you Ronde and thank you Ira.

  27. DrunkinYbor Says:

    I think the defense lost confidence in that loss to the colts. Where the refs sucked the whistle on a illegal inside kick and a ridiculous leaping call. Still we got burned on insane long rouchdowns

  28. TF Says:

    Munch you are conveniently forgetting that Tony Dungy was not able to get us over the hump and win Championships. He cost us championships just like Gruden. At least a MINIMUM of 1. Yes it’s possible Dungy could have won a championship with the Bucs but let’s not forget Tony BARELY won one with the Colts when he had the BEST QB of All time not named Brady. So Dungys team or not, it didn’t matter. He had his chances. And Rick McKay DID NOT get fired! He didn’t like the fact that Gruden was given a lot of roster input and McKay didn’t want to relinquish roster control and get stripped of how much roster control he had. I don’t blame McKay for resigning and leaving on his own free will. It took MINUTES for him to decide to go to Atlanta where Michael Vick was in his prime with a young up and coming team in a weak, aging division.

    Also you know we ran a cover two with TWO Hall of Famers in the secondary alone. Losing “Brian Kelly” cost us the season? Are you joking me? To say Brian Kelly is the reason is ridiculous. Blame ownership, and Monte as well not just Gruden. It’s like saying this year was “just” Bowles fault and not Leftwichs.

  29. TF Says:

    Oh, the Trent Dilfer led 2000 Baltimore Ravens had arguably the best defense of all time. They allowed fewer points than the Bucs, had 4 shutouts, only allowed about 200 ish more rushing yards and while they gave up a few more passing yards than the Bucs it’s because they were pitching shutouts so teams HAD to pass and get junk yards. They had the best “run” defense of All time and that’s including the amazing Steel Curtain Teams. And they WON the Super Bowl so the Bucs are definitely not “undoubtedly” the best defense ever to win a SB. The Ravens actually did WIN the SB.

  30. Goatfarmer Says:

    TF, that’s accurate. That Ravens D was probably the best but that doesn’t diminish the dominance of the Bucs, who were dominant for most of the seasons spanning 1996 through 2005. Age started catching them in 2007-8, although statistically they were still Top 10. The Giants exposed them in the 2007 playoffs, and the Raiders exposed them in the final game of 2008, Chucky’s coffin nail.

    Not too many defenses are as good for as long.

    So, while many have anointed the Toadster for being some masturmind — um, no.

  31. Goatfarmer Says:

    Also, the title pertains to Ira too, for all you placentas who were raging at Ira.

    Stick that one in your prunes for breakfast.

  32. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Jack Burton Mercer … Barber is the 2nd best Buc all time?

    I love Barber but 2nd. No way!!! Barber even said so himself in his quotes.

    Top 10 Bucs All-Time
    1. Mike Evans (just holding his spot)
    2. Brooks
    3. Selmon
    4. Sapp
    5. Wirfs (Just holding his spot. Could finish 1-2)
    6. Barber
    7. Alstott (probably just me)
    8. Lynch
    9. LVD
    10. TB12

    M Evans
    James Wilder, By far the best Running Back in history of Team, should be in ROH
    Hugh Green LB

  33. August 1976 Buc Says:

    TF “Also you know we ran a cover two with TWO Hall of Famers in the secondary alone. Losing “Brian Kelly” cost us the season? Are you joking me? To say Brian Kelly is the reason is ridiculous”

    Rod is 1000% correct. I can remember like it was yesterday. When Kelly went down, they were NEVER the same from then on.

    And here is Rick Strood commenting about Kelly getting hurt.

    “But what happened next hurt Kelly worse. He was forced to watch Harrison and the Colts abuse his replacement, Tim Wansley, to rally from three touchdowns behind in the final four minutes.”

    Tim Wansley was exposed, it was down hill for that defense in 2003 after that. Just not the same at all.