FOX NFL analyst and Super Bowl champion Rondé Barber, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor Sunday during halftime of the Giants/Bucs game on FOX. Barber, the NFL’s only member of the “40/20 club” (40+ interceptions, 20+ sacks), is the Buccaneers’ all-time interceptions leader (47), and his 28 sacks are second-most in league history among defensive backs.
The three-time first-team AP All-Pro, calling Sunday’s game alongside Kenny Albert, his twin brother, Tiki Barber, and Sara Walsh, takes a moment to share the significance of this accolade, as he prepares to become only the 13th member of the team’s Ring of Honor.
I will have an opportunity on Sunday during the Giants/Buccaneers game to put an exclamation point on a career I never dreamed possible when I was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1997 — to see my name adorned atop Raymond James Stadium as the 13th member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.
This incredible honor, hands down, means more than any previously bestowed upon me because of what it represents and how long I have awaited it. I am joining an esteemed group I sincerely revere – Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, Malcolm Glazer, Doug Williams, Paul Gruber, Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay and Jimmy Giles – Bucs icons who set the bar to which I always have aspired. To be immortalized with these guys and have this moment to reflect on our accomplishments is indescribably humbling.
I was blessed to play for the same team for 16 years — for an organization that is like family and players who are like brothers to me, owners who became dear friends and coaches who now are lifelong buddies. I cherish my time with the Bucs not just because we won a Super Bowl together but because I never once felt like an employee.
My success wasn’t simply a product of my own doing but that of those around me. I can’t begin to thank enough the people who played a pivotal role in making me the player I became. Sure, I put in the work every day, but it was the many others aiding my journey who allowed me to truly thrive. I’ll take the field Sunday, look up and see my name on the stadium because of those guys. More importantly, for those guys. Everyone with whom I crossed paths during my career owns a piece of this, and I gratefully share it with each of them.
I also share this day with the entire Tampa community, who welcomed this then-shy kid, sporting a sweet, pencil-thin mustache, with open arms, faithfully hung in there during the rough times and celebrated with me during the triumphant ones. That vast and diehard group, some whose names I know but most I do not, is the reason I continued to suit up when many of my peers were long gone.
Over the years, one of the most frequent questions asked of me is “Why did you play so long?” When I walk onto the field Sunday at halftime, I’ll look up and see the thousands of reasons I played for so long. The fans who showed up every week motivated me to continue pushing, continue entertaining, continue to find a way to “give that thumb to my name.” I’m seven years removed from that last game-day crowd, but I can’t wait to experience it again Sunday, because while my name now is immortalized on the northeast corner façade of the stadium, it’s about more than me.
I am incredibly honored to be joining the Buccaneers Ring of Honor as its 13th member, but I am taking with me thousands of lifelong friends. My utmost love and appreciation to each of them. Cheers … and fire the cannons!