Rondé Barber's time has come.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its new Class of 2023 on Thursday evening and Barber, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' groundbreaking and record-setting cornerback, was one of five modern-era players to get the call. The ultimate honor that can be bestowed upon an NFL player arrived in Barber's sixth year of eligibility and third straight as a finalist.
Barber becomes the fifth player who played all or the majority of his career with the Buccaneers to be voted into the Hall of Fame. He joins defensive end Lee Roy Selmon (Class of 1995), defensive tackle Warren Sapp (2013), linebacker Derrick Brooks (2014) and safety John Lynch (2021). Barber, Sapp, Brooks and Lynch were all cornerstones of the Buccaneers legendary defense that dominated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, peaking with a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Barber's multiple years as a finalist made his election to the Hall seem inevitable but Thursday's announcement was a cause of great celebration for the NFL's 27th franchise, for whom he played his entire 16-year career.
"During his legendary 16-year career as a Buccaneer, Ronde established himself as one of the most iconic players in team history and his selection today to the Pro Football Hall of Fame further solidifies him as one of the greatest players of all time," said the Glazer Family in a statement on Thursday night. "Ronde was the embodiment of a true professional, a fierce competitor and a student of the game. He was a natural leader who always found a way to leave his mark on the game and was responsible for some of the most memorable moments in our franchise history. We look forward to celebrating his legendary career later this year when he takes his rightful place alongside the other Buccaneers Hall of Famers in Canton."
As a candidate for a bronze bust and a gold jacket, Barber checked every box:
Record-setting numbers: Barber is the Buccaneers' career leader in interceptions with 47 and he also recorded 28.0 sacks, the second most ever by an NFL defensive back. Of those 28.0 sacks, 27.0 came from the cornerback spot, a record for the position. With that combination of big plays, Barber is the only player in league history to record at least 40 interceptions and at least 25 sacks.
Big plays: Barber scored 14 non-offensive touchdowns in his regular-season career (and one more in the postseason), the fourth highest total in NFL history behind only Devin Hester, Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson. Of those 14 scores, 12 came on defense (eight pick-sixes and four fumble-return touchdowns); only Rod Woodson, with 13, had more.
Awards: 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.
Longevity: Barber 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 and only two other defensive backs in league history, Darrell Green and Charles Woodson) started more contests. He started 215 consecutive games to end his career and never missed a game due to injury. Barber played in and started another 10 games in the postseason and was a member of seven different playoff teams.
Impact on the game: Barber redefined the slot corner job and set the blueprint for how that increasingly-important position is played in today's NFL. 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.
Championships: Barber helped the Buccaneers win their first NFL title during the 2002 season as an integral part of the league's top-ranked defense. During the regular season, Barber led a secondary that allowed only 10 touchdown passes while recording 31 interceptions and allowing an opponent passer rating of 48.4. Barber was also on the 1999, 2005 and 2007 teams that won division titles.
Signature moments: Barber's 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. He also took an interception to paydirt during the Bucs' Divisional Round win over San Francisco the previous week but most of the return was nullified by a penalty on a teammate.
The Hall of Fame's Class of 2023 was introduced during the annual 'NFL Honors' awards show on Thursday. The Hall's 49-person selection committee met virtually in August to choose from among a list of 15 modern-era finalists. That group was first pared down to 10, and then to five, and then each of the final five were subject to a yes-or-no vote by the committee members. A candidate must get a minimum positive return of 80% in this final vote.
Overall, Barber is the 10th of 11 people connected to the Buccaneers to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Tony Dungy spent six years as the head coach in Tampa Bay and another seven in Indianapolis. Ron Wolf was the first general manager in franchise history. Guard Randall McDaniel and quarterback Steve Young each played two seasons for the Buccaneers, while wide receiver Tim Brown and cornerback Darrelle Revis each played one.
Check out photos of Hall of Famer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer player Rondé Barber.