Buccaneers: Examining the Hall of Fame case for Ronde Barber

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 14: Cornerback Ronde Barber
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 14: Cornerback Ronde Barber /

This year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees are out, and the Buccaneers have three players in the mix. John Lynch and Simeon Rice are nominees once again, but it’s a first-time nominee that might have the best case for a spot in Canton.

Two members of the legendary 2002 Buccaneers defense already have a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s time for another key part of that unit to get his spot. And while he may be deserving as well, I’m not talking about John Lynch. Ronde Barber should be the next man up. No. 20 transformed the slot corner position, put up impressive numbers and brought home the accolades to back those up. His accolades over the years should all lead to the ultimate reward: a Hall of Fame bust in Canton.

The slot cornerback position would’ve never been what it is now without Barber. The Virginia product had an impressive blend of quickness and physicality, which gave him a unique skillset. He could blitz like no other corner, but that doesn’t mean he lacked ball skills. The man could do it all, which made him one of the most special players of his time. He could tackle, but he could also cover. Tampa Bay’s defensive system was the perfect fit for Barber, which is why he was a productive member of the team for all 16 seasons of his career. But he wasn’t just important to the franchise. From his play, followed by more after, came a normalization of the position. It was no longer a “system corner.” Instead, it was a legitimate spot on the defense.

As far as statistics go, Barber’s numbers speak volumes. To this day, he is still the only player in NFL history to record at least 45 interceptions and at least 25 sacks. Those numbers alone are impressive and extremely indicative of his skillset and versatility. Over his 16 seasons, he picked off 47 passes and came up with 28 sacks. In 2001, he came up with a career-high 10 interceptions. In the Bucs’ 2002 Super Bowl season, Barber tallied a career-high 17 pass breakups. And who could forget No. 20 sealing the NFC Championship Game with a 92-yard pick six?

His durability was another reason for his great track record. He played in 241 games, a franchise record. He also had a run of 215 consecutive starts, which was the most in NFL history by a defensive back. If his role in Buccaneer and NFL history isn’t enough to get him to Canton, his numbers should help too.

Every Hall of Famer has an impressive list of accolades on his resume. Barber’s resume looks the part too. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first-team all-pro and two-time second-team all-pro. Those accomplishments back up the claim that he is one of the most decorated players in team history. He meant a whole lot to the defense and Buccaneer franchise as a whole. His impact on the Bucs is still felt today, and fans continue to love No. 20 for all of the years he put in with the team. His case for Canton is a special one, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to want him to get the call in his first year on the ballot. Don’t just take that from me.

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Lynch and Rice have their cases, but Barber has the best case of the three. He has the reputation, the numbers and the accolades. Now it’s time for him to get the call to Canton.