Rondé Barber talks Hall of Fame, legendary Bucs defense, and more

Fresh off the announcement that he’ll be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this fall as a member of the 2023 class, Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Rondé Barber recently spent time with Hall of Fame voters Ira Kaufman and Clark Judge to discuss his iconic career.

Here’s what Barber had to say about his unique 16-year stretch with the Bucs, Tampa Bay’s legendary defense, and more:

On the importance of making the Hall of Fame

“I’d say it’s very important for one particular reason. Guys like Brett Favre have universal respect and love in the game. Those kind of guys, without question, everybody knows how good they are. For me, I don’t think everyone knew how good I was. You’d hear ‘System guy, anybody could do it.’ That hurts when you go back and look at the totality of what I accomplished and then people still have doubts whether or not I was a really good football player.”

“’He’s O.K., he had a fine career.’ No, I had a pretty unprecedented career. The numbers speak for themselves. The durability speaks for itself. The number of big plays should be screaming at you. The Hall of Fame for me is basically a feather in my cap that says basically all of you who judged me unfairly were wrong.”

On his 14 non-offensive TDs, 4th-most all time

“The TDs came because I was a very good technician and I was always finding ways to get around the football. You don’t score six TDs on fumble returns unless you’re running to the ball. You don’t score that many times by accident and I’m definitely proud of that.”

“We have a good one here in Carlton Davis. He’s great on the line of scrimmage and I love his technique, but he doesn’t take the ball away. He needs to take the ball away and people will start giving him his respect for the way he plays the game.”

On the greatness of that legendary Bucs defense

“We were a great defense, and we were a great defense for a long period of time. Monte Kiffin should probably be getting Hall of Fame consideration. If you take Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp and put them on any team in the NFL, they’re likely Hall of Famers. They were that good. John Lynch and I had to do it a little differently. Now you’ve got Simeon Rice with 122 sacks, man. Aren’t those Hall of Fame numbers?”

“I know edge rushers aren’t getting the type of love they have in the past and Simeon was definitely a little one-dimensional. Rod Marinelli was great with Simeon. We got in some third-down situations and Rod took Simeon out of the game for a while. He told him, ‘You start doing the other thing and I’ll start letting you rush the passer.’ Sim, to his credit, got better in the run game.”

On what they expected from the Bucs offense

“We expected our team to score 17 points, that’s it, and not allow the other team to score while we’re on the sideline. We understood that we needed to be great. The emphasis on our team was defense and Tony Dungy was that kind of coach. When Jon Gruden came in, I don’t think the offense got exponentially better, but it showed up in the playoffs for sure when we won our Super Bowl.”

On 1999's season-opening loss to the Giants, despite not allowing a touchdown

“They beat us at home and scored twice on defense. We came in the next day and Tony told us we weren’t good enough on defense. We’re all like, hold on. What? We weren’t good enough? The idea, and it’s an idea that permeated for us, is we had to outplay the other team’s defense.”

“Our captains had a talk with Tony and said ‘Tony, that’s not fair. That’s ridiculous for you to put that on us.’ He apologized later, but in reality, that was our expectation with our defense. We didn’t need an offense. We just needed them not to make mistakes that cost us the game. When they did, we lost football games.”

On picking twin brother Tiki as his Hall of Fame presenter

“Tiki as my presenter isn’t even a question. We shared a womb together and he’s an all-time great in the NFL.”

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire