Another journey that could end in Canton began on Wednesday for former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Ronde Barber.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame released its initial list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2022 on Wednesday and it includes four players who had prominent careers with the Buccaneers. Barber will be looking to take the next step into the Hall this time after being named a finalist for the Class of 2021. He is joined on the list of 122 nominees by three of his former teammates, fullback Mike Alstott, linebacker Hardy Nickerson, Sr. and defensive end Simeon Rice.
Another seven players who spent small portions of their careers in Tampa were among the nominees as well. They are (with their seasons as a Buccaneer noted): Jeff Garcia (2007-08), guard Logan Mankins (2014-15), fullback Lorenzo Neal (1998), tight end Dallas Clark, offensive tackle Lomas Brown (2002) and punters Sean Landeta (1997) and Reggie Roby (1995). Running back Warrick Dunn, who was on the list of nominees last year, was not nominated for the Class of 2022.
Alstott and Barber are both members of the Buccaneers' Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. That Ring of Honor also includes five men who are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame: defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch and Head Coach Tony Dungy. Lynch was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer as part of the Class of 2021.
The initial list of nominees is the first step in electing up to five modern-era players for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In November, Hall voters will choose a list of approximately 25 semifinalists from the 130 nominees. That list will be further pared to 15 finalists in January, and the final balloting traditionally takes place in the Super Bowl host city the day before the big game. Last year, voting was done virtually and before Super Bowl week due to COVID precautions.
Barber is the only player in NFL history with at least 45 interceptions and at least 25 sacks. He went to five Pro Bowls and is a two-time All-Pro and he won a Super Bowl ring after recording one of the most iconic plays in postseason history. He was a semifinalist for the Class of 2020 before advancing to the final group last year.