Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs running back's gamble pays off for his mom

TAMPA — When Peyton Barber decided to leave Auburn after his sophomore year, with only one season as a starting running back, it was a risky decision, one he hoped would let him help out his family back home in suburban Atlanta.

But he wasn't drafted, and signed with the Bucs with a modest $8,000 signing bonus.

He was among the team's final cuts in September, but was signed back to the practice squad, which paid him $117,300 if he stuck all season.

Four days later, the first of many injuries to other backs meant Barber was signed back to the active roster, where he remained. He had 55 carries, including a 44-yard touchdown at San Francisco, and the NFL's rookie minimum salary of $450,000 made a huge difference in his life.

"The NFL's definitely done a great deal for me," said Barber, 23, still working to keep that roster spot in his second season. "I was able to do a lot over the offseason. I was able to buy my mom a house. I got a new car. I did a lot of things, but I'm still working toward that next step."

Barber isn't assured a roster spot yet. He helped himself at Jacksonville last week, gaining a team-high 42 yards on nine carries. On the opening drive of the second half, he had six carries in seven plays. He converted a fourth-and-1 for the second week in a row.

This time last year, Barber was motivated to help his mother Lori, who was badly injured in a 2013 car accident and had moved in with his older sister, Jade, and her three children in an apartment. Barber stayed there sometimes himself.

"It's a great feeling," he said of being able to give his mother her own place. "It's still not exactly where I want it to be, but at the same time, it's better than what we were in."

Lori Barber had 25 percent mobility after the car accident, but continues to improve and is now at better than 75 percent, her recovery aided by better physical therapy she can afford thanks to her son.

"I feel very blessed," she said. "From where we were before he went to the draft to now, it's a blessing. It's such an honor for Peyton to be part of the Buccaneers, and for all of us, such a blessing. I can't put it any other way. I'm overwhelmed by the blessings we've had since he went to Tampa Bay."

Jade Barber, a single mom who was working and putting herself through classes to be an esthetician last year, said she never thought about the odds Peyton would have to overcome. She knew how much he'd done to earn a scholarship to Auburn and improve himself there and how much he wanted to help his family.

"It's amazing. I never doubted him myself," Jade said. "It's not really a surprise to me. He's very deserving of where he's at, as much of a struggle as it was to get here. I knew he didn't come this far for nothing. Whenever he's in doubt, just feeling down or frustrated, I'm always the one to let him know that everything's going to work out. He's living his dream."

Barber isn't in the clear. When Doug Martin returns from a three-game suspension in October, Tampa Bay might keep only four running backs, which could mean cutting a backup if everyone is healthy. He goes into that unknown with confidence.

"It's having faith. There's nothing like having the man above behind your back," Barber said.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

   
Comments
Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

SARASOTA — The backdrop at University Park Country Club had a larger-than-life image of Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with one of the team's slogans for 2018: "JOIN THE KREWE."New Bucs center Ryan Jensen was on hand for a luncheon hosted b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been suspended from the upcoming season opener for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy in a 2017 arrest in St. Petersburg.Fowler, 23, was arrested in his hom...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

The NFL’s two-month old national anthem policy is on hold. Hours after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week, ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates when training camp opens next week? What other storylines are significant for the Bucs?Plus, how will the Rays fare without Wilson Ramos, who has been placed on the disabled list and is expected to m...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

It was Dec. 20, 1981, the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, and the NFC Central title was on the line. The Buccaneers were in Detroit, where the Lions hadn’t lost all season.The Lions, who were favored by a touchdown, took a 7-3 lead in t...
Published: 07/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Besides Jameis Winston, what is the biggest storyline for the Bucs entering training camp? How would you describe the Rays season in one word?Is the Lightning deal for Erik Karlsson dead? Who will win the British Open? Rick Stroud answers these quest...
Published: 07/19/18
Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Those free passes to a limited window for the general public to see the Bucs practice in training camp are already almost gone.Last month, the team announced that only six practices would be open to the  general public, with fans required to go ...
Published: 07/19/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Remember last year, when the opening credits to "Hard Knocks" showed DeSean Jackson pulling up to Bucs training camp in a white Ferrari 488 GTB, which starts around $250,000?Training camp doesn't start until next week, but we have an early leader for...
Published: 07/18/18
‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.The team released four sho...
Published: 07/18/18
Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Star cornerback, onetime Buc Darrelle Revis retiring after 11 NFL seasons

Revis Island is closed for business. Darrelle Revis, a star cornerback with the New York Jets, a Super Bowl winner with their archrivals, the New England Patriots, and a onetime Buc, has retired. Revis announced Wednesday on social media that he was ...
Published: 07/18/18