TAMPA, Fla. — Ronde Barber was back at Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp Friday. This time, he had a different view.
Barber, who announced his retirement in May, was present during Tampa Bay’s morning practice Friday at One Buc Place. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive back spent his entire 16-year career with the Bucs, and before he walked away from the game, he was the last remaining tie to their Super Bowl XXXVII title team.
Barber will serve as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports this fall, in addition to working as an analyst for three of Tampa Bay’s preseason games televised on WFLA, a local NBC affiliate.
Barber spent a few moments with media addressing the current team, life in retirement and transitioning to a new role.
On his early impressions of training camp:
“It looks the same as it did last year. … Players getting a workout. It’s orderly, as you would expect from coach Greg Schiano. I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying being on this side of the fence. I’m looking forward to covering this team for a couple weeks … and get on with the rest of my life.”
On his analysis of the Bucs’ new-look secondary:
“I believe we’ve got a great safety (Dashon Goldson) that we picked up. We got a young safety (Mark Barron) that I played with last year. I know we got a draft pick (cornerback Johnthan Banks, taken in the second round), but he’s still got to prove himself. I don’t know. We’ll find out over the next couple weeks. I pay attention to camp, and when I’m covering these guys three of the four weeks of the preseason, we’ll find out then.”
On if he misses playing:
“No. … I don’t. I’m good being at home. I’ve been following it from afar. I spent 23 years or so playing high-level football. I’m good being a spectator.”
On being critical in his new role on television:
“I don’t think I’ll have any problem being objective. We live in a very subjective world where everybody has opinions, so I don’t know why mine will be any different.”
On whether he had any second thoughts on retirement:
“None whatsoever.” (laughter)
Sapp called the Bucs an offensive juggernaut Thursday. On his assessment of the label:
“I have to be honest — they certainly do (have the potential). They have the look of one. It’s not one until you put it on the field. If you were putting together a group of guys and said they were going to have a powerful offense, it would be guys like (wide receiver) Mike (Williams), (wide receiver) Vincent (Jackson), (running back) Doug Martin and all those guys they have up front. They have all the ingredients. They’ve just got to go out and make it happen.”
On whether the coach or the quarterback has more pressure:
“I don’t think either of those guys are feeling pressure right now. They’ll find a way. I’ve been around those guys long enough — the whole year last year with coach and a couple of years with Josh (Freeman). I think the pressure is built up within you guys (the media). They don’t feel it. They’ve got to do their jobs. If it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”
On importance of the defensive line in helping the secondary:
“I’ve played with a lot of guys over the years, and I was fortunate to play in a defense where it really did start up front. Sixteen years in the league, I’ve never seen a great defense that didn’t have it up front. That’s got to be those guys. … I don’t think they feel it. They know what their jobs are. They know what their expectation level should be. I expect them to do it. They’ve got a great leader up there in (defensive tackle) Gerald (McCoy). He’s proven. He’s been to a Pro Bowl. It’s on his shoulders.”
On consistency throughout his career:
“You go and do your job every day. You expect everybody else to do their job the same way. It’s hard to play in this league. It really is. I played with a lot of good coaches. One of them always said, ‘Familiarity breeds understanding.’ These guys, with another year under the system, I expect them to be better. I think they certainly have the talent to be.”