Is Buccaneers Cornerback Ronde Barber a Hall of Famer?

Earl BedfordContributor IJune 6, 2010

As I search the blogosphere for any positive NFL news, a question keeps arising about one of our most beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ronde Barber.

The conversations surround whether or not he is a Hall of Famer.

When sportswriters talk about the Bucs future HOF players, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks' names almost always lead the discussion. Not once have I heard or read that about Barber.

Before I chime in with my take, let’s see what some of the sportswriters have to say about this.

Pat Kirwin, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer area scout and now a CNNSI writer, believes that Barber will come up short on the balloting.

Kirwin states that Barber has made five Pro Bowls in his 13-year career, in which he has 37 interceptions, 104 passes defended, and 11 forced fumbles. Kirwin believes Barber has had a fine career.

But it might not be enough.

Kirwin, however, does not mention Barber’s 25 sacks, a huge tally for a cornerback.

On the flip side, Kirwin mentions Charles Woodson, who has 11.5 career sacks, as being “close” to the Hall of Fame. The difference between Woodson being “close” and Barber being “distant” is Woodson’s Defensive Player of the Year award, which gives him a slight edge over Barber.

ESPN's Pat Yasinkas had an interesting take on the subject stating, “This may not be the answer Tampa Bay fans want to hear, but I don’t think Ronde Barber is a future Hall of Famer. Just my honest opinion. I think he’s been a very good player for a very long time. But I don’t think he’s ever been a dominant player."

"Also, I think Barber was fortunate to have Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and John Lynch around him for much of his career and they made all the players around them look better. I think Brooks and Sapp are automatic Hall of Famers and I think Lynch has a chance to join them. I think Barber’s been a very good player, but not a Hall of Famer.”

Sports Illustrated's Peter King has said on numerous occasions that he’d vote for both Brooks and Sapp. King states that “Barber has good stats, but I don’t think he has the national respect for his talent."

"Sapp has gotten a lot of national media attention, so that’s never going to harm him, and Brooks has done some really ridiculous things: Defensive Player of the Year, 11 Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pros, three second-team All-Pros, and he made the all-decade team. The All-Pros and the All-Decade team are decided by the media, including the people who vote for the Hall of Fame. Sapp’s media recognition is extremely similar.”

From a statistical standpoint, Barber has 25 sacks and 37 interceptions in his career.

He has made a ton of big plays and won a Super Bowl. His interception return in the conference title game against Philadelphia was a fantastic moment. And he also had a 10-interception season.

Yet, when you think of Barber, do you think of a dominant or Hall of Fame player? Let’s see how Barber stacks up against several HOF cornerbacks/ safeties.

Dick LeBeau - In 1960, started a string of 12 straight seasons with three or more interceptions.

Rod Woodson - Intercepted 71 passes in his career. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in interception return yardage (1,483). Six-time first-team All-Pro choice. Earned All-Pro honors as cornerback, kick returner, and safety. Named to 11 Pro Bowls.

Ronnie Lott – Was the 49ers No. 1 pick in 1981, and went on to intercept 63 passes in his career

Dick “Night Train” Lane, Ken Houston, Herb Adderly, Lem Barney, Mel Blount, Willie Brown. Ronde Barber?

As Yasinskas points out, it took Barber a few seasons to make a real impact. The cornerback then went into a very productive stretch, which forms the basis of his HOF argument.

The problem Pat and I see was that the Bucs won only one championship. And a lot of people view Barber as a system player, who benefited from playing “Tampa Two” in Monte Kiffin’s scheme, with Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, and John Lynch there to help him look good.

Yasinskas states that he respects Barber’s durability, "but after last years’ 3-13 season with no interceptions, this isn’t the best way to put the final touches on your résumé."

Some may argue that it’s not all about statistics.

My dispute is that I grew up watching two Oakland Raiders corners, "Stick Em'" Lester Hayes and the “Assassin” Jack Tatum. Two defensive backs that deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but have not been.

Maybe the HOF is all about what voters perceive as important in the defensive back/safety position.

High single and double digit interceptions are typically held in higher esteem. Just like a sack, FFs, batted down passes and tackles are important to a defensive linemen these stats are not as important to a defensive back as the interception. A defensive back with interceptions and sacks is a rare commodity. Sometimes HOF voters and sportswriters just have a feel for a player whether he make it into the hall or not.

If Hayes and Tatum didn’t make it, I don’t like Barber's chances.


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