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Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry has a bright spot on a long, hard road

Remember the Brady Bunch episodes in Hawaii? A taboo tiki icon brings the family nothing but bad luck. Greg wipes out in his surfing competition, Peter almost gets bitten by a tarantula, Alice throws her back out hula dancing, and Bobby is almost killed by a wall decoration that falls on him in bed.

Joe Barry knows the feeling.

Everywhere he has been in the NFL the past three seasons, bad things have followed.

Before returning to the Bucs as linebackers coach, Barry spent the past two seasons as Lions defensive coordinator.

Last week, when the Bucs upset the Packers 38-28, Barry broke a personal 24-game losing streak.

Think about that. Twenty-four games. It had been since Dec. 23, 2007 — Josh Freeman's sophomore year at Kansas State — that Barry had tasted victory.

"It felt great," Barry said. "It really did. In this league, you put every waking minute — on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 18 hours a day — you put into 60 minutes on Sunday. When it doesn't work out the way you want it to, it's brutal. … Yeah, it's been hard."

Of course, there are a lot of reasons Barry wasn't more successful in Detroit. And most were out of his control.

But it's fair to remember that Barry didn't forget how to put on his whistle. Replacing Lovie Smith, now coach of the Bears, as Bucs linebackers coach, Barry won a Super Bowl XXXVII ring as part of Jon Gruden's staff in 2002.

And he coached Pro Bowl players like Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles and made them better.

"People say losing and going through these tough times make you better," Barry said. "I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. I felt I was getting better when I was winning games, too. I think you make yourself better, you push yourself to get better regardless of wins and losses. Now, obviously, the No. 1 goal is to win the d--- game. Just because you lose, does that mean you stop working? You stop preparing? You stop trying to achieve what you want to achieve?

"Also, not to be arrogant or cocky, but I didn't necessarily become a bad coach the past 24 losses. This league is a brutal business, and it will chew you up and spit you out if you allow it to."

What was so gratifying to Barry and other Bucs coaches and players was how the team rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter with a rookie quarterback making his first start.

"The middle of the fourth quarter, you look up at the scoreboard and it's 28-17. We're down by 11, and guys just kept playing and kept fighting," Barry said. "We got a couple turnovers, we scored, we rushed the passer well. It was a great team win just in the fact that all three phases did something and put their stamp on the victory. That's what you want."

Despite all the losing, Barry never spent one day feeling sorry for himself. He just kept trying to improve as a coach and make his team better.

"The thing I also want people to understand is that it's been hard and it's been rough and frustrating," Barry said. "But there are so many other people worse off. There's a 17-year-old kid in Tampa who is going through a lot tougher times than Joe Barry. There's a 40-year-old father of three who is unemployed, has a house payment and is out of work. I don't want anybody's sympathy.

"When my alarm clock goes off every day at 5:30 in the morning, I punch the clock and I come to work. Now, when you're going through a rough time, is it brutal? D--- right. You put your life and family on hold for six months out of the year. But this is what I love to do."

So Friday the 13th just passed, and Barry didn't break a mirror, walk under a ladder or trip over a black cat. The luckless streak has ended.

"It was great, for the fans, for Josh Freeman for Raheem (Morris); there were so many story lines last (week)," he said. "We've got to keep this thing rolling."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry has a bright spot on a long, hard road 11/14/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 15, 2009 12:35pm]
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