Ronde Barber, one of the greatest players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers' history, is one step closer to a bronze bust, a gold jacket and NFL immortality.
On Wednesday, Barber was one of 15 finalists revealed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2023, marking the third year in a row he has made that cut. This is Barber's sixth year of eligibility and he has been at least a semifinalist each year, first breaking through to finalist status in 2021.
The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will meet in Arizona prior to Super Bowl LVII to select up to five new inductees from that field of 15 modern-era stars. The Class of 2023 will be announced live on the "NFL Honors" show on the evening of Saturday, February 11.
Barber could become the fifth player who spent all or the majority of his career with the Buccaneers to gain entry into the Hall, joining Lee Roy Selmon (Class of 1995), Warren Sapp (2013), Derrick Brooks (2014) and Lynch (2021). Other Hall of Famers who have ties to the Buccaneers include Tony Dungy, the team's head coach from 1996-2001, quarterback Steve Young, guard Randall McDaniel, wide receiver Tim Brown and General Manager Ron Wolf.
Like Brooks, Sapp and Lynch, Barber was a key figure in the Buccaneers' franchise turnaround in the mid-'90s and its subsequent run to the Super Bowl XXXVII championship, though Barber's career continued long after that title run and featured many stunning accomplishments. For instance, he is the only player in league history to record at least 45 interceptions and at least 25 sacks; he had 47 picks and 28.0 sacks.
Barber played all 16 of his NFL seasons with the Buccaneers and is the only player in NFL history to make 200 consecutive starts at the cornerback position. His 241 games played and 232 starts are both franchise records. He started 215 consecutive games to end his career and never missed a game due to injury.
A third-round pick in the 1997 draft, Barber made the Pro Bowl five times, in 2001, 2004-06 and 2008. He was also an Associated Press All-Pro selection five times, including first-team honors in 2001 when he led the NFL with 10 interceptions and also in 2004 and 2005.
Barber also holds the Buccaneers' all-time records for interceptions (47) and defensive touchdowns (14). He is credited with helping to redefine the slot corner position as he spent most of his career in a dual role playing both outside corner and inside in the nickel. As a slot corner, he showed incredible blitzing ability and also was a key part of the Buccaneers' run defense, finishing his career with 1,428 tackles, an enormous number for a cornerback and the second most in franchise history.
Barber was a big-play machine for the Buccaneers with those 14 touchdowns. Only three players in the history of the league (Devin Hester, Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson) own more non-offensive touchdowns. And if Hall voters like signature plays, Barber checks that mark as well. His game-sealing 92-yard interception in the 2002 NFC Championship Game sent the Buccaneers to their first Super Bowl and is one of the most memorable moments in playoff history.