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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Ronde Barber's buddies make case for Hall of Fame

There is no real disagreement that Ronde Barber is one of the greatest players in Buccaneers history. He redefined his position and made more splash plays than even some of the game’s most revered defensive players.

But his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t considered a slam dunk. There are only 15 players in the Hall who spent the majority of their careers playing cornerback, as Barber did. It’s a tall order to make it into Canton for any player.

Still, talking to those closest to Barber, the people who watched him work for the past 16 seasons, you get a sense that there’s a particularly strong case to be made for Barber to earn the highest honor in the game.

His former teammates and coaches might not be the most objective, but their cases for Barber are compelling.

Here are a few.

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy

“I think he is a Hall of Famer. What people are going to have to look at is the total career and the longevity and big plays over 16 years. He’s going to suffer a little bit because people are going to say he wasn’t the best player on that defense when they look at (Derrick) Brooks and (Warren) Sapp. But to me, he reminds me of John Stallworth. People always said (Lynn) Swan was spectacular. But John played a long time and when you looked at the numbers, you say, ‘This guy really was something special.’

I think that’s going to happen with Ronde. They’ll look at all the productivity, all the numbers, all the consistency and say, ‘You know what, he was pretty special.’”

Former Bucs safety John Lynch:

“I got to watch him from the day he came in and it’s funny, early in his career, everybody talked about his brother (Tiki). Early in his career, everybody talked about everybody else on our defense. But this guy just kept grinding and grinding and grinding and went from a player you thought was too small and too slow to a player that put together a Hall of Fame career. And there’s no debating it. You just look at the numbers and it’s there.”

Former Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud:

“I think he’s a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Nobody in the NFL played his position the way he did. . . The first 3 technique (defensive tackle) I think of is Warren Sapp. The first weak-side linebacker I think of is Derrick Brooks. And the first slot cornerback I think of is Ronde Barber. All those guys are Hall of Famers.”

Former defensive tackle Booger McFarland:

“I think he meets the Hall-of-Fame criteria because when you look at how many players have 40 interceptions and 25 sacks, he’s the only one. That’s a short list. He made his position one of emphasis in the game. When you start to redefine your position, then you start to put yourself in a category all your own.”

Former Bucs linebacker Ryan Nece:

“I’m a tough critic because I try to use my dad (Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott) as the standard. But (Barber) revolutionized the position he played. What more can you do?”

[Last modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013 10:20am]


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