Ronde Calls It A Career
May 09, 2013 at 02:20am by Scott • 7 Comments »
This post was actually supposed to be about the rookie training camp and how everyone looked, but obviously there was news bigger than what a handful of rookies did without pads today.
Ronde Barber, 38, decided Wednesday it’s time to ride off into the sunset, ending a 16-year NFL career many believe will be immortalized one day in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The writing was pretty much on the wall when the team signed Dashon Goldson, ending Ronde’s brief starting stint at safety. And then it was all but certain when they drafted Johnthan Banks and kept Eric Wright. So it’s not too much of a surprise at this point that Ronde is retiring, and I can’t feel sad about it. He’s leaving on his own terms and still able to play at a high level, which is infinitely better than watching him slowly limp into irrelevance as we have seen so many others do (don’t make me name them).
It is kind of a bummer that he is the last link to the Super Bowl team and there are no more grizzled veterans to take over his leadership role. The longest-tenured player on the team now is Vincent Jackson, and while I understand he is an excellent teammate and a good leader, he isn’t that dyed-in-the-wool Buccaneer that we had gotten accustomed to seeing. Josh Freeman and Gerald McCoy are the next two guys you think of when you think of team leaders who are purebred Bucs. And just being drafted high doesn’t earn them what Ronde earned with his 16 years of consistent excellence and occasional awesomeness. Nope, there is definitely a gap in this team now. I’m confident someone will step up to fill it.
Three or four years ago, I would never have thought Ronde did enough to get into the Hall of Fame. Now I’m not so sure. Every year for the last few, I kept looking for him to slow down and start becoming a liability, and he never did. But his game was never based on superior athleticism, it was all about smarts and instincts, and that doesn’t fade. He knew where the play was going and he attacked it week after week, year after year. But even though his game wasn’t about the physical, he didn’t mind the physicality. He racked up 28 sacks and 1,428 tackles, the latter being the second-best in franchise history. We’ve gotten used to those kinds of numbers because we’ve been watching him for 16 years, but that’s really unusual for a cornerback. I don’t know that he’s a shoe-in for the Hall, but I think the selection committee will give him serious consideration. As they should.
Good luck, Ronde. Please don’t go far.