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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Barber recalls his famed interception against the Eagles in 2002 NFC Title game

7

December

When the Bucs honor the 2002 Super Bowl champion team during a halftime ceremony, most of the key players will be there - Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, even coach Jon Gruden.

As for the last player still active - safety Ronde Barber - he still has a job to do, and will likely be in the lockeroom going over mid-game adjustments against the Eagles. Barber doesn't expect he'll be with his former teammates on the field for the pomp and speeches.

"I don't think coach (Greg Schiano) is going to let that happen," Barber, 37, said, smiling. "If he does, it'll be a surprise to me. I don't know what I'm allowed to do. I've got to work.

"Unfortunately, I won't be enjoying it as much as other guys. But it'll be a great moment."

Schiano said Friday he and Barber will deal with his halftime responsibilities.

"The thing I know is that when guys are done playing, they wish they could go play again, and Ronde is still playing," Schiano said. "So let's go win. So whatever helps us win the most is what we'll do."

Barber, of course, was part of the signature play of the 2002 season - and arguably Bucs history. His 92-yard interception return against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game all but sealed their berth in the Super Bowl, and silenced the Veterans Stadium crowd.

"The enormity of the moment didn't hit me until later," Barber said. "… I do remember the quiet. And I remember the guy in the right corner of the end zone who was talking trash before the game. I wanted to go right to him, but I didn't."

Barber said there was "nothing magical" about the play, he was just playing corner in a Cover-2, and stepped in front of a slant and took it all the way. 

"It was a long run," Barber said. "I was struggling, too. I had a torn knee ligament. I was humping it to get there."

Eagles coach Andy Reid certainly hasn't forgotten the play. 

"Yeah, 200 Jet All Omaha," Reid said this week, recalling the play call. "He got us. He picked it and took it the distance. He was a heck of a player then, and still a heck of a player."

Barber said he still has the ball from the interception, as well as a piece of the Veterans Stadium turf, which a representative of the Bucs handed to him on the plane ride home. The turf is now taped to the ball in his trophy case at his house.

"One of our guys got (the turf), and was cutting it up on the plane," Barber said. "And was like, 'Here, you need to have a piece of this."

- JOE SMITH

joesmith@tampabay.com

 

[Last modified: Friday, December 7, 2012 5:12pm]

    

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