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Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber still noncommittal about 2012 return

ST. PETE BEACH — Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, who becomes a free agent next month and has been pondering retirement, said Saturday night that he remains noncommittal about returning for a 16th season.

"Things have to play themselves out, like they did last year," Barber, 36, said at former teammate Shelton Quarles' charity event at the Loews Don CeSar Hotel. "We'll have a meeting of the minds, like we did last year, and if I fit in, we'll go from there.

"I'm not allowing myself to lean one way or the other. I'm pretty sure where I stand, but I haven't allowed myself to commit."

Barber agreed last year with general manager Mark Dominik to approach his remaining seasons year to year. He played 2011 on a one-year deal.

The coaching change that led to the dismissal of Barber's close friend Raheem Morris could affect his decision. Barber recently met briefly with new coach Greg Schiano. Schiano seems like he has strong convictions, Barber said. "I think that's what we were looking for with the hire."

Another interview no: For the third time in two weeks, Schiano has been denied an opportunity to interview another team's assistant for one of his coordinator posts, according to a report. The 49ers declined to make defensive backs coach Ed Donatell available to discuss becoming the Bucs' defensive coordinator, NFL.com said.

The Bucs have been denied permission to interview two other assistants in recent weeks: Cardinals quarterbacks coach John McNulty and the Packers' Ben McAdoo, the tight ends coach who last week was promoted to quarterbacks coach. McNulty and McAdoo were candidates for the Bucs' offensive coordinator post, which was filled Friday by Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

If an assistant coach is under contract, NFL rules allow teams to prohibit the assistant from interviewing for other jobs unless the job is a head coaching position.

NFL nixed Nixon blackout plan: The NFL, which is trying to maintain its TV blackout of home games that don't sell out, missed an opportunity 40 years ago to preserve a more restrictive policy when it rebuffed an effort by President Richard Nixon to lift the hometown blackout for playoff games.

On a previously unreported tape recording, now in the National Archives, Nixon told Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst to offer commissioner Pete Rozelle a deal: allow playoff games to be televised in the host city and the president would block any legislation requiring regular-season home games to be televised as well. At the time, the NFL blacked out all home games, whether they were sellouts or not. Rozelle rebuffed the attorney general.

Packers: Receiver Donald Driver said he's willing to take a pay cut to stay with the team. Driver, who turned 37 on Feb. 2, finished his 13th season in Green Bay with 37 receptions, 445 yards and six touchdowns. The catches and yardage were his lowest since the 2001 season. He's scheduled to earn a $2.6 million salary in 2012 and a $2.2 million roster bonus in March.

Rams: Falcons director of player personnel Les Snead accepted an offer to become general manager, NFL.com reported.

Steelers: In the wake of a report the team is planning to cut him, Hines Ward reiterated that he wants to retire with the franchise and will restructure his contract to do it. NFL.com reported Friday that the team is planning to get rid of Ward, the franchise's all-time leading receiver who turns 36 next month. Ward is scheduled to make $4 million in 2012.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber still noncommittal about 2012 return 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 9:44pm]

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