CB Ronde Barber spent 60 minutes talking with Buc fans on the Pewter Power Hour Tuesday night
Ronde and Jeff wanted to talk football, but there were more personal matters to take care of first. On opposite ends of a phone line, the two men helped each other take stock.
Like many Americans, Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jeff, a Buccaneer fan from Trenton, New Jersey, were touched personally by the tragic events of last Tuesday. Barber was plunged into uncertainty and fear that morning after seeing the news and wondering about the whereabouts of his twin brother, Tiki, a running back for the New York Giants. Jeff, right on the cusp of the terrible action in New York City, had a whole family to worry about as the day's events unfolded.
Both Ronde and Jeff were sincerely relieved to hear that the other's family was safe, though Jeff did mention coworkers lost in the tragedy.
But just how were these two sharing in each other's relief, a week later, two men who had never met separated by thousands of miles?
They did so on the Pewter Power Hour on Buccaneers.com, a weekly call-in show that allows Tampa Bay fans across the nation an opportunity to share their opinions on the team and speak directly with Buc players and coaches.
On this Tuesday, the Pewter Power Hour's guest was Barber, the Bucs' outstanding veteran cornerback who spent the full 60 minutes on the show and chatted with fan after fan. He and Jeff went on to discuss Barber's goals for the season, and subsequent callers tossed in questions about run defense, the Bucs' new offense, the Minnesota Vikings' receivers and the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback.
Mixed in were brief discussions on the tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., but mostly Barber and the callers talked football, even with Jeff, who was so close to the scene.
"That's the front line," said Barber during the show. "Trenton, New Jersey is right across the water from where that all happened. It's got to be a tough time for him. I admire him for even calling in and talking about sports right now."
But all agreed that it was good to be once again talking about the NFL, which will return to the field on Sunday after postponing last weekend's games. And it was a unique opportunity for Buc fans scattered across the country to do this talking directly with one of Tampa Bay's most prominent players.
You can hear all of the questions sent Barber's way and his answers to the fans by listening to the replay of Tuesday night's Pewter Power Hour. Following are some of Barber's thoughts during his 60 minutes on Buccaneers.com.
On whether postponing last weekend's games was a good decision by the NFL:
"Absolutely. To me, there was no doubt that we should not have played on Sunday. Yes, you want to get over it, but I think you would have seen 53 guys on 30 teams that really weren't into football. That opens up a whole new can of worms – getting hurt, not having the quality of games that you'd like to have. Vinny (Testaverde) and Wayne Chrebet in New York said they wouldn't have even taken the trip to California last week.
"I think it was the right call. As for the Giants, they would have been playing a home game against Green Bay in Giants Stadium, with the smoke still billowing across the way. It was absolutely the right decision."
On whether he sets specific, personal goals for each season:
"I definitely have goals. I set higher and higher goals every year. I look at my stats year in and year out, and to me it looks like they're exactly the same. I get two picks, I get a couple sacks, I end up with 60, 70 tackles. I feel like I'm a consistent player, and two or three years ago that was fine for me. I wanted to be a guy that my teammates could trust in, and the guys in the league would recognize me as someone that had a business-like approach and did his job.
"But, every year I feel like I need to do more. I want to get more big plays, more interceptions for touchdowns, more caused fumbles – the little things that help you win. When I feel like I'm doing that consistently, making those big plays consistently instead of (just) playing consistently, then I'll feel like some of my goals are accomplished."
On whether it would be possible to play two games in one week if the NFL tried a somewhat radical approach to working in 16 games and a full slate of playoffs:
"No way. You can't recover that fast. A 60-minute NFL game is like throwing yourself into a brick wall 60 times. Getting up and having to do it again three days later – I don't think it's possible.
"I mean, if it had to be done, it could be done. We've had short weeks in the past. We've played on a Monday night and had a Saturday game, or something. But, overall, you don't give yourself enough time to prepare. That would involve breaking down film of the team you're going to play next, while at the same time you're breaking down film of the team you're going to play (on the weekend). I really don't think that's feasible in the NFL. It's not like basketball, where you go out and do the same thing over and over again, or baseball, where you just go out and hit the ball, or whatever. Football is game-planning. We're in meetings six or seven hours a day, just trying to get stuff done. It would be very, very difficult to get that accomplished.
"I go home on a Sunday night feeling bad. I get up Monday and work out, get the blood flowing again. You've still got some aches and you get a massage the next day. Then you try to get the kinks out in Wednesday's practice, and by Thursday you start feeling good again, feeling like you can run gain, feeling like you're ready to hit somebody again."