A new head coach (Raheem Morris) has helped rejuvenate Ronde Barber, the former Cave Spring High School and University of Virginia football star. Now 34 years old, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback admitted on a recent visit to his old stomping grounds that it takes him a little bit longer to get warmed up now, and that he’s a bit sorer after games.
The elevation of Morris to head coach from defensive coordinator after the Bucs jettisoned Jon Gruden has Barber fired up a bit, however.
“Pumped up’s a good word…excited,” said the twin brother of Tiki Barber, who retired from the New York Giants two years ago after ten seasons as an All-Pro, all-purpose running back. “Raheem’s a great friend of mine and has been [my] DB coach for a number of years. He deserves it certainly.”
Barber, who introduced his mother Geraldine at an event in Vinton recently, said having a fresh face “with a lot of energy,” should be good for Tampa Bay, which missed the NFL playoffs last season.
“It’s a welcome change,” said the four time Pro Bowler. “I know what he is going to bring to the table. He definitely has reenergized me…I’ve known him for so long.” The Bucs will be “exceptionally young,” in 2009 said Barber, who hopes for a quick learning curve. “We could have a great season this year.”
Barber admits he has had to work harder the last five years to “stay young.”
“There’s very few that have played my position for as long as I’ve played. The young guys get bigger and faster.” Around the league he commiserates with several other older defensive backs whenever they wind up on the same field together. “We’re working our butt off just to maintain. That’s the nature of the beast.”
It is year to year, season to season, as far as pro football goes for Ronde Barber at this point.
“You get 13 years in the league and it seems like every game is going to be your last game,” said Barber, who has done some media work in Tampa but has not laid out a post-football career path like Tiki did with NFL broadcasts and NBC’s The Today Show. “For now ‘Plan A’ is still working,” noted Barber, “I’ll just reevaluate [every year] and see if I can still do my job well. As long as I can, I’ll keep going.”