On September 9, Ronde Barber will make NFL history at the same time a new era begins for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fans who wish to witness Barber's big moment – and help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vanquish one of their most heated rivals – can claim their seats for the 2012 regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers right now. While single-game tickets for the rest of the team's 2012 home slate will not go on sale for several more weeks, the Buccaneers are giving their fans an early opportunity to be a part of that highly-anticipated opening day.
It will certainly be a big day for Barber. When the five-time Pro Bowler takes the field for Tampa Bay's first defensive snap, he will officially make his 200th consecutive start, becoming the first defensive back in the history of the NFL to reach that milestone.
To increase the chances that Barber's achievement will take place within the framework of a victory, and thus kick off Greg Schiano's first year at the helm the right way, the Buccaneers have unveiled a special initiative aimed at maximizing their home field advantage for the opening game.
Tickets for the Carolina game, where Barber will be recognized for his incredible streak and a number of other achievements, are ON SALE NOW through TicketMaster. Click here to be among the first to lock up your seats.
"As we usher in a new Buccaneer era that kicks off in September, we are looking forward to celebrating Ronde Barber's 200th straight start," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer. "Ronde has made us all proud during his 15 seasons with the team, and this next milestone is yet another along the road that we expect will lead to Canton. Our fans have a lot to look forward to this season, and we hope this promotion helps give everyone the chance to both celebrate a Bucs great and join the fight."
In March, Barber decided to return for a 16th NFL season in order to help kick off a new era of Buccaneer football under Schiano and his new coaching staff. While the September 9 contest against the Panthers will serve as the much-anticipated regular-season debut for the likes of Schiano and newcomers Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright, Dallas Clark, Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David, it will be the 15th straight opener for which Barber has suited up and, incredibly, his 225th consecutive game played. Along the way, Barber has constructed an unforgettable career – all in a Tampa Bay uniform – that seems destined to put him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Barber originally joined the Buccaneers as a third-round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft out of the University of Virginia. He has gone on to become one of the most decorated and beloved players in team history. Barber's 199 straight starts is the longest streak in the NFL among active players, as the five-time Pro Bowler and eight-time team captain has started every game for the Buccaneers since Week 10 of the 1999 season. Barber is the only defensive back since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to start each of his team's games for 12 consecutive seasons. His consecutive starts streak is also the longest by a cornerback in NFL history, while his 224 consecutive games played are tied for the second-longest streak by a defensive player in the NFL since 1970. Overall, his 225 games played (he appeared in one regular-season contest as a rookie in 1997) is a Buccaneer, record, one better than the mark set by fellow Canton-bound defender Derrick Brooks.
Barber has 43 career interceptions and 27 career sacks, making him the only player in NFL history to have 40 or more interceptions and 25 or more sacks in a career. In addition, his 1,337 tackles rank second in team history behind only LB Derrick Brooks, and his 11 touchdowns on takeaways ranks fifth in NFL history. He has frequently done some of his biggest damage against the Panthers, a team he has faced 21 teams. Four of his 43 interceptions have come against Carolina – tied for his second-highest total against any team – and on December 11, 2005 he had one of his most memorable games ever against the Panthers. In that outing, Barber recorded a key interception in the fourth quarter and also came up with the 20th sack of his career. That officially made him the first 20-sack, 20-interception cornerback in NFL history.
Oh, and Tampa Bay won that game, 20-10, a victory that essentially clinched the NFC South title. The Buccaneers hope that this September 9 is a similar afternoon – an unforgettable one for Ronde Barber fans and a victory that starts another run at the playoffs with a new-look team under Greg Schiano.
To purchase season opener tickets, please visit the tickets section here on Buccaneers.com. Fans interested in becoming season pass members can speak to a Buccaneers account representative by contacting the ticket office at 813-582-BUCS (2827).