Ronde Barber a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame a second straight year

Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Bay Times
Former All-Pro cornerback Ronde Barber is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the second straight year. [ Times (2019) ]

TAMPA — Defensive back Ronde Barber could become the second member of the Bucs secondary to wear a gold jacket.

Less than a year after safety John Lynch had his bust displayed in Canton, Ohio, Barber was named one of 15 modern day finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022 Thursday.

It’s the second straight year Barber has been a finalist. This year’s group also includes defensive end Jared Allen, offensive lineman Willie Anderson, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, safety Leroy Butler, receiver/kick returner Devin Hester, receiver Torry Holt, receiver Andre Johnson, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Zach Thomas, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, receiver Reggie Wayne, linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive tackle Bryant Young.

Five will be elected to the Hall on the eve of Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles in February.

Barber, 46, played all 16 NFL seasons with the Bucs and set a new standard among defensive backs for versatility and playmaking ability.

His game-clinching 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game from the 2002 season still represents the organization’s signature play and sent the Bucs to Super Bowl 37, where they beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21.

“Ronde Barber is definitely a Hall of Famer,” NFL Network’s Jim Trotter said during the broadcast to announce the finalists Thursday. But Trotter, who is a voter, said he would give the edge to Butler over Barber because he has been a finalist longer.

Barber’s credentials for enshrinement are undeniable. He was a member of the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000s, a five-time Pro Bowl player, a three-time All Pro and he led the NFL in interceptions with 10 in 2001.

A third-round pick by the Bucs out of Virginia in 1997, Barber did not emerge as a starter until his second NFL season.

He quickly established himself as a unique talent who was equally adept at covering receivers or rushing the quarterback. Barber finished his career with 47 interceptions, 197 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles and 12 fumble recoveries to go with 28 sacks.

Barber switched to free safety in 2012, his final NFL season. He started all 16 games for the 13th straight year. HIs 224 consecutive starts, including playoffs, are the most by a defensive back in league history.

Barber is vying to become the fourth member of the Bucs’ Super Bowl 37 team to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Lynch. Other Bucs in the Hall include coach John McKay, coach Tony Dungy and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon.

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