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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rondé Barber States Tiki's Hall Case, Praises Mom's Guidance

Rondé Barber's path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was made possible by the competition and unwavering support of his twin brother Tiki and the lessons he learned from his 'badass' mother


On Saturday, as new Pro Football Hall of Famer Rondé Barber gave an eloquent summary of his football journey, he noted that he found a perfect 'football family' in Tampa, even thanking some former Tampa Bay Buccaneers video hands by name for their friendship. Before Barber found that NFL environment that allowed him to thrive, however, he was shaped in lasting ways by two members of his actual family.

Barber was presented on the stage in Canton by his twin brother, Tiki, the obvious choice. Rondé and Tiki shared that journey from their youngest days through college at Virginia, but the 1997 NFL Draft finally split their paths into two. Tiki went to the New York Giants six picks into the second round; Ronde was taken exactly one round later by the Buccaneers. They were together once again on a football stage in Canton on Saturday, as Tiki helped Rondé unveil his bronze bust and then sat nearby for the latter's speech.

Barber jokingly thanked the sculptor of his bust for making it look like him and not his brother, but it's clear that the elder brother (by seven minutes) thinks his sibling should get his own likeness in the Hall. He has made that point before and used his speech to highlight Tiki's accomplishments as an NFL running back once again.

"See in my family, legendary is a standard," said Barber. "Tiki, certainly not your ordinary running back. The New York Giants' all-time leading rusher. The only man in NFL history, according to Kenny Albert, to run for 10,000 yards, catch 5,000 yards worth of passes and return 1,000 yards as well. Pretty awesome, Tiki – and spectacularly [done], too."

Rondé's note on Tiki is accurate, and it dovetails nicely with his own unique statistical accomplishment, as he is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 interceptions and at least 25 sacks. Tiki Barber played 10 seasons for the Giants and racked up 10,449 rushing yards, 5,183 receiving yards and another 1,725 yards on punt and kickoff returns. He scored 68 total touchdowns and 416 points, earning three Pro Bowl berths and one first-team All-Pro nod along the way.

Even if Tiki does not find himself in the Hall in the end, he played a big role in getting his brother to Canton.

"Without him, I wouldn't have had that daily reminder to chase greatness," said Rondé. "If you don't remember anything else I say today, remember this: I am here because of my brother. The inherent competition, the easy motivation to match accomplishments and the unwavering, unconditional support that only a twin can know. You simply cannot tell my story without telling our story. We shared a lot: a womb, of course, an alma mater, children's books, Pro Bowls and All-Pros – I've got more of those, of course – the lows and highs of this profession, but man we had a fabulous football life."

Even that twins' bond, however, would not have been enough, however, without the most important person in their lives. In the most emotionally impactful part of Barber's roughly 15 minutes at the podium, he drew attention to his mother at the front of the audience and gave her an immense amount of credit for helping him achieve such outsized success.

"However, the single biggest reason I'm standing here right now is that little five-foot-nothing lady sitting in the front row, Geraldine Brickhouse Barber-Hale. Everything I learned in life, one way or another, came from her. To keep going. To don't quit, persevere. She was a single parent with too much to do and not enough time to do it, working multiple jobs. But she possessed this self-instilled ability to force her will on a situation and to not only succeed but find a way to thrive. I've heard that phrase a lot in my life – 'force your will on your opponent' – from a lot of coaches, but my mom showed me how to do it first."

Barber described how his mother went a year into successful treatment for breast cancer before sharing the diagnosis with her twin boys, who were trying to adjust to college life and a new level of football. He praised Barber-Hale for not letting her adversity become their burden, not only in the fight against cancer but throughout their lives as she worked to provide as a single mother.

"My mom, she's kind of a badass," said Barber. "I remember thinking at the time, too, if she could do that, what couldn't I do? Mom, you always told us to 'play proud,' right? And I know you're proud now. Tiki and I received that same text every single Sunday: 'Play proud.' I'm proud of being uncommon and doing uncommon things. Reinventing what it means to play cornerback in the NFL. But you all know I'm most proud to call Geraldine Brickhouse Barber-Hale my mom."

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