By Max Luckan
Ronde Barber, CB/FS, #20
Weight: 184 lbs.
Hometown: Blacksburg, Virginia
Experience: 16 years
Quite possibly one of the greatest players to ever put on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform and a surefire Hall-of-Famer, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber has continuously played at a high level throughout his career, and has recently added the safety position to his resume, which is already great. Barber made the switch from corner to safety this year after the Bucs released Tanard Jackson, and consequently, were lacking depth at the safety position. Meanwhile, the team acquired CB Eric Wright via free agency, so the move to safety for Barber was inevitable.
Barber was born in Blacksburg, Virginia and played his high school football at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia, where he also wrestled and ran track, and excelled in all three sports. Barber’s twin brother, Tiki, also attended the same school and went on to play football in the NFL, so football ran in the family.
Deciding to attend the University of Virginia, Barber played there for four years and entered the 1997 NFL Draft as a fourth-year junior. While at Virginia, was a three-time, first-team All-ACC selection and had his number retired by the university in 2008.
The Bucs drafted Barber in the third round of the 1997 draft, and his brother was also drafted in the same year. Barber didn’t play much in his first season, but has been a cornerstone on the defensive side for the Bucs ever since.
The 2012 season has been especially interesting because new head coach Greg Schiano asked Barber to move to free safety. And of course, Barber complied. It has worked out so far for the Bucs, as Barber currently has 62 tackles, one forced fumble, and four interceptions and has also been able to mentor rookie safety Mark Barron.
Of course, Barber had been playing corner for 15 years and didn’t have to move to safety, but he did anyway.
Then why did he do it?
Like so many NFL players, Barber puts the team ahead of himself and what he wants personally, so if moving to safety was going to help the team be more successful, then Barber was more than willing to make the transition.
This season has been special for Barber as he’s been able to try something new and different, yet he’s continued to play at a high level even at age 37. He’s certainly helped the Bucs out on the field, but he does so off the field as well.
It is well known that Barber and his brother, Tiki, have written many children’s books, but Barber has also been an advocate of literacy programs that get children to read at a young age. In addition to writing children’s books, Barber also donates money to various charities whenever he can, and helps out in the community.
Barber is one of the all-time greats to put on a Bucs uniform, and in 2012, he has contributed in a new way, but has thrived in a new role. Barber is one of those guys who just enjoys playing the game of football and does so with a smile on his face.
The Bucs are lucky to have him as a player on the field, and as a contributor off of it.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.