From August of 1997 through December of 2012, Ronde Barber was in attendance for 333 straight Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, including preseason and postseason affairs. Barber will extend that streak at least four more games this summer, albeit in a different capacity.
In June, the Buccaneers and WFLA-TV News Channel 8 forged a multi-year agreement that included the broadcast rights to the team's preseason games through the 2017 season. On Tuesday, WFLA-TV added to that exciting news by announcing that Barber, one of the most accomplished players in Buccaneers history, will be joining the broadcast team in 2013.
Barber will share the booth with play-by-play man Chris Myers, providing analysis for the three preseason games WFLA-TV will air in August. News Channel 8's Dan Lucas will provide the sideline reporting to complete the broadcast team. Tampa Bay's preseason begins with a home game against the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, August 8, and WFLA-TV will also produce and broadcast the team's contests at Miami on Saturday, August 24 and at home against Washington on Thursday, August 29. The Bucs' August 16 game at New England will be televised nationally by FOX.
It's difficult to imagine a game analyst who could provide more insightful Buccaneer analysis than Barber, who retired this spring after playing in a franchise record 241 regular-season games. Barber has almost literally seen it all; among his team-record 232 games started were a total of 215 in a row to end his career, an all-time NFL record for defensive backs. Barber played all 16 of his NFL seasons in a Buccaneer uniform – another team standard – and never once missed a game due to injury.
Barber also carries a well-earned reputation as one of the most cerebral and well-prepared players in Buccaneer history. His unwavering dedication to his craft allowed him to play much longer than most defensive backs and in the process rack up Hall-of-Fame worthy numbers. In addition to his amazing participation totals, Barber also ranks first in franchise history with 47 interceptions and second behind only linebacker Derrick Brooks with 1,428 tackles, a remarkable total for a cornerback. In addition, he is the only player in NFL history to amass at least 40 interceptions and at least 25 sacks.
During his playing career, Barber earned five trips to the Pro Bowl and five Associated Press All-Pro selections, three first-team and two second-team. A member of the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s, he scored 14 non-offensive touchdowns (plus a 15th in the playoffs), the fourth-best total in NFL history behind only Deion Sanders, Devin Hester and Rod Woodson.
And, of course, that extra touchdown in the playoffs stands as one of the most unforgettable moments in franchise history, as he sealed the Buccaneers' win in the 2002 NFC Championship Game with a 92-yard interception return for a score. On that evening in Philadelphia, and on many, many other occasions during his career, Barber provided game broadcasters with a reason to get excited. This August, after 16 wonderful years in a Buccaneer jersey, Barber will be on the other side of that equation, adding excitement to the preseason game broadcasts for the viewers.