CB Ronde Barber believes the experience of four seasons in the NFL has made him more adept at recognizing routes quickly
The pass routes of Minnesota wide receiver Cris Carter are like snowflakes: no two seem to be the same.
At least, that's the observation of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber, who praises the Viking Pro Bowler as one of the toughest receivers to cover in the game. Barber shared that and a number of other observations during his 'Your Turn' interview with Buccaneers.com.
Call it veteran savvy. Carter has it, for certain, and Barber believe he is beginning to benefit from it as well. That's another topic the former University of Virginia star touched on during his Your Turn session, which invites Buccaneers.com users to send in the questions that will be used for the interview. In addition, Barber addressed issues such as training to increase speed, his goals for the season and his near-victory in the Snapples Superstars competition.
The first half of that interview was revealed to Buc fans on Thursday. The transcript of the second half is below. To watch the video of the interview that corresponds with the text below, please use the Broadcast Network box on the home page or visit the Buccaneers.comvideo archive. The video of the first half, and much more, can also be found in the video archive.
Frank Lojacono of Tampa, Florida: "It seems to me that a lot of times players that get big long-term contracts sometimes have a down season the next year because that goal is gone. You worked hard to earn your new contract. Do you think having that out of the way will allow you to concentrate more and raise the bar of what you can accomplish in the NFL?"
Ronde Barber: "That's a good question. I definitely feel like I worked hard for that contract. Unfortunately for me, I think it was a down year as far as contracts go. I probably could have gotten more (in another year), but we'll leave that for another discussion.
"But I'm definitely glad it's over with. The contract situation is a rough thing to deal with. You're going through some stuff that you haven't really gone through before, and at times you sit back and wonder, 'Is this really about football or is it about money?' Once that was finally over with, I felt like this was about football again. I could go play, let all of that take care of itself and be the football player I know I can be, regardless of what I'm compensated for."
Eric of Saginaw Michigan: "I am a high school player at the cornerback position, and I wonder what is the best way to increase your speed to keep up with the fastest of receivers?"
Ronde Barber: "Go run track. That's my best (advice). I played football in the fall at Virginia and ran indoor track and outdoor track. I probably could have played baseball and could have tried some other things. But, to me, all my efforts were about speed. Speed – there's no substitute. Any kind of track work, anything that teaches you how to run, you can't get better than that as far as training for football. If you want to increase your speed, track is the best way to do that."
DJ Hamilton of Orlando, Florida: Obviously, as a team, the goal for this season is the Lombardi Trophy. Do you have specific goals set for yourself to try and attain this season?"
Ronde Barber: "Yeah, definitely. I don't know if I'm ready to share them with you yet, but I definitely have some goals. I put some goals on the table this time of the year every year and start looking forward to doing the things that I can do better so that I can achieve those. Obviously, it's good to feel those goals being accomplished, but to me, overall, the season's not a great season unless we're winning the Super Bowl. The personal goals will take care of themselves. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't, but if you're not winning, it doesn't really matter in the long run."
Dominic Ahier of Longueuil, Quebec: "I would like to know who is the toughest man to cover one on one, and also, who do you think is the greatest corner of all time?"
David Spenn of Bradenton, Florida: "I know the Bucs' defense plays a lot of cover two, but which opposing receiver gives you the worst coverage problems? Also, which quarterback is the hardest to defend against?"
Ronde Barber: "It's easy to say Randy Moss, the best receiver in the game right now. That's just because of what he can do athletically. As far as running routes and everything, there are so many different guys that you can look at. You can look at Cris Carter. He goes out there and, to me, it seems like he's making up his routes, but he's always open.
"Just for the sake of argument, those are the two hardest receivers to cover out there – Randy Moss and Cris Carter. And they're both on the same team, so that makes it doubly tough.
"Best cornerback of all time? I'd have to go with Darrell Green. He's just been doing it so long at the same consistent level. I think the favorite in this category is probably Deion, because of what he can do athletically, but to me Darrell is the consummate cornerback and you can't ask for more than that for the 20-something years he's been doing it."
"Best quarterback? I'll say it a hundred times over: Brett Favre is the best quarterback I've ever seen play the game. He can do more things that you can't believe. He'll make a throw right behind you that you're saying, 'I can't believe he's throwing this ball,' and he'll complete it. He's just got the desire to win. You can feel it in his heart and see it in his eyes that he is the type of player that can win, and I like that about him."
Scott Leslie of Atlanta, Georgia: "How could you let a skier beat you in the Superstars competition? Actually, it was very exciting to watch you compete against your brother, Tiki.
Ronde Barber: "That was the most athletic skier I've ever seen in my life. You know, I've never even known any skiers – those were the first two (professional) skiers I've met, actually, (Herman) Maier and (Alberto) Tomba. They were both outstanding athletes. I couldn't believe it. Legs as big as Clydesdales' legs, and they were in shape and were as competitive as anybody. I didn't think they'd be that competitive. They went there with a desire to win and I went there to hang out and got an opportunity to win. It was fun."
Moderator: "Well, you were sort of a last-minute replacement and you ended up coming in second, and you did beat your brother."
Ronde Barber: "I'm happy with it. I won the obstacle course. That's all I cared about."
Hugh from Gulfport, Florida: "What lessons did you take from the Bucs' loss to the Eagles and does it carry over at all into this season?"
Ronde Barber: "You know, I was just talking to one of the coaches about that game. It definitely carries over. You can't end the season that bitter. It was the biggest game of our season and we didn't come out and play as well as we could have. That's disappointing. The reasons are many and the blame is with everybody, so you can't say what really went wrong. But you definitely look back at the game and don't want to start the season like you ended it. It's going to motivate us. We were really close. One game – you win that game, win the next one and you're in the championship game with a chance to play in the Super Bowl. We didn't even get past the first step, so that's definitely motivating.
Adam of Plant City, Florida: "Do certain teams over the years keep the same offensive routes and are you able to recognize those routes and intercept the passes that way?"
Ronde Barber: "The longer you've been in the league – and I've started to really realize this practicing against our guys this year – you've seen it all. There's not many routes that are out there. It's not like there's some magic playbook that will pop up in the year 2001 with some new routes. All the guys run the same routes, you've just got to figure out how they run their routes. If you've been in the league long enough, you see how guys play – how Randy Moss runs his go, what he does when he turns to dig. You really start recognizing their routes and how they run them. And they're not going to change. You know they're working hard on what they're doing, so you've got to work hard on what you're doing. It's really just a chess match after that."
Todd of Polk City, Florida: "What's it like to be in the locker room after a huge win like the Monday Night game against the Rams? The emotions must be soaring."
Ronde Barber: "The emotions are high. It's kind of surreal, really. You're sitting around saying, 'This is huge.' You really can't believe the game is over, but you're happy. In the same regard, after that St. Louis game two years ago that we lost, there was that same type of surreal quality. You can't believe the game is over and we lost. You feel like you want to go out and play some over.
"It's an enjoyable feeling to win. It definitely is. It's gratifying to go out there and accomplish something that you really worked hard for. You've got to chalk it up to the joy of winning. Whatever you're doing, you enjoy winning."
- Question #19
Quentin of Washington, D.C.: "If you weren't playing football, what would you be doing?"
Ronde Barber: "This is probably the toughest question. I have no idea what I'd be doing. I'd probably have some options. I can't say I'd go play another sport, because I'm obviously not good enough to do that. I got a decent enough education while I was at Virginia, so I could probably find somebody that I could sucker into a job."
Jeff of Valrico, Florida: "What area of your game do you think needs the most improvement if any?"
Ronde Barber: "All aspects of my game could get better. You always go back at the end of the year and evaluate film, and you start realizing that it's never really as good as you think it is or as bad as you think it is. The things that I want to improve on are definitely man-to-man skills, bump-and-run. Mike Tomlin, our new DB coach, is really working hard with me on that. And I want to get better on some of the little things, the details, and I think I can become a better player than I am. I always say you're either getting better or you're getting worse, so I'm going to work hard to get better."