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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Ronde Barber backs Aqib Talib, talks retirement

Like all NFL players these days, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber has some time on his hands. He spent some of that time this week in studio with NFL Network. Barber also participated in a Q&A with

The most intriguing comments offered by Barber were those regarding fellow cornerback Aqib Talib, who – along with his mother – is facing a felony in Texas punishable by up to 20 years for allegedly shooting at his sister’s abusive boyfriend during a fight.

Asked what he believed the Bucs would do with Talib after the lockout ends, Barber simply offered unequivocal support for his teammate.

“That’s tough for me to say,” Barber said. “I would like to see it not be (the end). I think Aqib is a great, great teammate. I can’t make excuses for his behavior off the field. And obviously, he knows where he needs to improve. That can’t be his issue. He’s too good of a football player to be having issues like that off the field.

“But I’m going to support him. He’s my teammate. I love him to death. I’ve known him for three years and I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game. He definitely needs to figure out how to keep himself out of trouble and focus on what he does best, and that’s play football.”

When pressed further by host Rich Eisen for his feelings on the Bucs’ eventual decision on Talib, Barber finally offered this:

“I don’t think that we’ll lay him out there,” he said. “There’s varying degrees of thought and it’s been printed up in local newspapers and national media about us letting him go. I’d like to see us continue to help him. If you cut a guy like that, somebody else is going to pick him up – he’s too good of a talent – assuming the legal process plays itself out favorably. He allows us to do things that we’ve never been able to do on the football field and I’d like for him to stay in Tampa.”

To interject, here are a couple of observations on Barber’s statements. For one, he mentions that Talib is “too good of a talent” to let go, which only sheds light on the reality that the rules are different in sports for star players. Marginal players don’t get second and third chances the way Talib has.

Secondly, Barber said he would like to see the Bucs “continue to help” Talib. This is admirable, and we’ve been told that Barber is among the players who have tried over the years to counsel Talib. That, too, is admirable. But here’s a fair question: Have the Bucs had any success in actually helping Talib? Considering the nature of his offenses appear to be growing more serious, the answer is, at best, uncertain.

Barber, who will play this season on a one-year contract, also talked about the subject of retirement – as in when will his come?

“I’ll play until I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be in a good situation. I have a coach (Raheem Morris) who I’m comfortable with, and he’s comfortable with me. I have a GM (Mark Dominik) who understands me and wants me around. We’ll play it year by year. I think all parties involved will know when it’s time for me to be done.”

How will he know?

“It will be simple,” Barber said. “When I go out on the field and I don’t like practicing and I can’t get through practice. Then I’ll know it’s time for me to not do it on Sundays anymore.”

Finally, Barber addressed the decision by the Bucs to turn down the opportunity to be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks reality series, one he completely supported.

“Absolutely the right call, for a lot of reasons,” Barber said. “Some of them are unsaid, but we have a young team, we need to keep our focus on the field. I know we all watch it, and it’s somewhat entertaining, but it’s a distraction.

“We need to keep our focus on our young team playing football and not being movie stars.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 4:31pm]


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