Ronde Barber Retires: Is Bucs CB Bound for Hall of Fame?

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Ronde Barber Retires: Is Bucs CB Bound for Hall of Fame?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After 16 seasons in the National Football League, the last of the Barber twins is calling it a career, setting the stage for the debate as to whether or not he should merit consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in five years.

As Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports, cornerback-turned-safety Ronde Barber, who spent his entire NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has decided to hang up his cleats:

There isn't much that Ronde Barber didn't accomplish during his time in Tampa. He was elected to five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro three times. No player in NFL history has started more consecutive games at cornerback than Barber. He's the only player in the history of the National Football League to amass over 40 career interceptions and 25 sacks.

He also has a nice piece of gaudy jewelry, having won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers.

Those achievements, added to Barber's 12 career interception and fumble return touchdowns as well as over 1,000 tackles, would certainly seem to present a strong case for inclusion in Canton.

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports certainly thinks so:

His colleague Gregg Doyel agrees:

Let's look a little deeper and compare Ronde Barber's career stats to those of the last three modern-era cornerbacks to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Player

Years

Tackles

Sacks

INT

RTD

P. Bowls

SB Rings

R. Barber

16

1,025

28

47

12

5

1

D. Sanders

12

492

1

53

10

8

2

R. Woodson

17

1,050

13.5

71

13

11

1

D. Green

20

1,159

1

54

8

7

2

As you can see, Barber's career numbers compare very favorably to those of the last three cornerbacks to be elected to the Hall of Fame. His tackle numbers are comparable to those of Rod Woodson and Darrell Green, he's second on the list in return touchdowns and Barber had more career sacks than the other three players combined.

Where Barber's true Hall of Fame credentials lie is in the impact he had on how the cornerback position is played in the NFL.

Make no mistake, Ronde Barber was something of a pioneer. He was one of the first cornerbacks to play in the Tampa 2 defense, a scheme that requires cornerbacks who are just as adept at getting after the passer and stopping the run as they are at shutting down opposing wide receivers.

It was a role he thrived in. It's not a stretch to say that, without Barber, that fearsome Buccaneers defense of a decade ago would not have been nearly as formidable.

He blazed a path that cornerbacks such as Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears walk today.

Even in his switch to free safety last year, Barber excelled. In 2012, the then-37-year-old posted his highest tackle total since 2006, the most interceptions since 2008 and ranked as a top-10 player at his position according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Now it's time for Barber to sail off into the sunset—sorry, but the pirate metaphor was just sitting there—and as I wrote earlier, the question now becomes whether his career achievements merit a bust in Canton.

Break out the chisel and fit the man for a hideous beige sport coat.

Ronde Barber is a Hall of Famer. No doubt about it.

 

Statistics courtesy of ProFootballReference.com.

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