We continue my series of the top five players in Tampa Bay’s history with No. 4. In this spot, I’m going with Ronde Barber.
For 16 years, Barber was the model of consistency and competence on and off the field. He thrived in the Cover 2 defense that Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin brought to Tampa Bay and his longevity was impressive.
You could make an argument Barber was the best draft pick in franchise history. He wasn’t taken until the third round, but he blossomed into a player who was selected first-team All-Pro five times and was on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Barber's biggest claim to fame might be the fact that he’s the only player in NFL history with at least 40 career interceptions and 20 career sacks. That alone puts Barber in the conversation for a spot in the Hall of Fame, although he might face a tougher time getting there than teammates Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, who were selected the first time they appeared on the ballot.
But Barber belongs on any list of the top players in franchise history. Perhaps the best thing about Barber was he spent his entire career with the Bucs and things ended gracefully. Some of Tampa Bay’s other all-time greats left on bad terms. But Barber got to decide when it was time to walk away from the game and that was something he richly deserved.