Ok, I’m happy………………..my favorite football team on the face of the planet has managed to secure a 16th season from their future Hall of Famer, Ronde Barber. I was concerned after the Buc’s picked up Eric Wright, that Barber might retire, or that he might not want to play for Greg Schiano who will be Barber’s fourth head coach for the same team over his career. But Ronde has agreed to terms that will allow him to return for a one year deal to help the Buccaneers bring back to life a defense that was epic under the schemes of the great Monte Kiffin.
The offseason moves made by the Glazer family, who own the Bucs have been impressive so far on paper. I think they did the right thing to hire the right kind of guy in Greg Schiano from Rutgers. It is very difficult to walk in the footsteps of coaches like Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, but the Glazers interviewed a lot of coaches before settling on Schiano. After making that hire they proceeded to hire a completely new coaching staff and picked up some key free agents.
It might seem strange to some who read here every day to understand why I enjoy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so much. Well, aside from my love of pirates, the Buccaneers have a long history of innovation and thinking outside the box for a sports franchise, and even when they lose, most of the time they are exciting to watch.
The Glazer family operates their franchise from the front of the train. If you read here often you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then CLICK HERE to learn what I mean. It is a scary place to be at the front of the train, and sometimes you pick the wrong track, which is what happened when the Buc’s committed so much in Raheem Morris, who was a good coach, but had lost the team halfway through last season. But that doesn’t mean everything Raheem did was bad. He went out and found a lot of good talent, by thinking outside the box, and those players are now gathered in one place. What they lacked was leadership, which Raheem could not bring to the table unfortunately, I think because of his youth.
So the Glazers rather than overreacting from the back of the train and spending a lot of money on a quarterback to save the day, like a Payton Manning, or a Bret Farve type, stuck with their players and decided to invest in leadership instead of players. The Glazers chose to go against the knee jerk reaction of the status quo by throwing players at the wall and hoping they stick and instead found leaders who think at the front of the train.
That kind of ownership is what makes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a quality organization that I have enjoyed for over two decades now. CLICK HERE TO SEE MY PREVIOUS ARTICLES. That’s the kind of mentality that brought about one of the greatest defenses to ever play football lead by Warren Sapp in the late 90’s, and what I have seen the Glazers trying to duplicate since, without falling into the grove of complacency.
It has been difficult for Tampa Bay to retain their identity after Monte Kiffin left to help coach with his son Lane. But Tampa had to deal with that problem sooner or later, and they have tried to find the right personnel who will help them regain that level of play.
The Bucs have a lot of great young players and statistically, they should be one of the best teams on any football field. But it takes more than just players to achieve greatness. Greatness is more than just throwing and catching footballs. Or running a football. Or stopping someone from doing those things against you. Greatness is in the heart, it’s at the front of the train of thought. It’s in the drive to always become better. And for young players to see greatness, they need to be around it, so they can see what it’s supposed to look like.
In Tampa Bay the Buccaneers organization under the Glazer family has seen many players retire as Buc players, notably, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, and now Ronde Barber, and each of those players late in their careers took pay concessions in order to stay with the Bucs, so the organization could afford to keep them around. Ronde if he really wanted to could most likely double his price on the open free agency market, but Ronde like Brooks and Alstott, even John Lynch before he suffered a serious neck injury and Warren Sapp just before going to the Raiders as a free agent were willing to take significant cuts in pay to stay with the Bucs. This is how so much veteran leadership has been able to stay with Tampa over the years, and why it is such a relief to see that Ronde is going to stay one more year, so that the young Buc players can learn from him.
The people I might sit at the bar in Chili’s with on a Sunday afternoon watching football understand the economics of Ronde’s decision. They also understand that Payton Manning couldn’t stay with the Colts because the price tag to keep Payton was simply too great. Around the bar over beer, nacho’s and cheese dip, people understand that sports teams can’t afford to pay $20 million dollars for a player that might not play a lot and is likely to end up hurt before the end of the season, so they often cut their losses unless the player is willing to take major cuts in pay.
But in the next conversation with the same group of people, they will say that teachers and school administrators should be paid an infinite sum of money never to be capped off. Never to end. They will say that it’s OK for a school system to operate with a top-heavy payroll and that if more money is needed to balance the budget, then taxes should be increased.
Why are people smart about sports, but not about education—or government? I have a lot of theories, but for now it’s just an observation to consider. When I say that a school system, or a public service that charges taxpayers for their service requires more money, I wonder how many of those employees at the top of their pay scale would be willing to do as Ronde Barber has done so he could stay with his team, and take a cut in pay. To help his team out with leadership so he can play another year with the group he has known and loved for years. Or should he betray his fans, and his employers the way Labron James did in Cleveland, and just go for the big money and tell everyone else to go to hell.
One of the reasons I like the Buccaneers as an organization is because of players like Ronde Barber. There is no question as to where his loyalty is, or what his intentions are. And because he is a straight shooter he has a lot of leadership to provide the young talent who need someone to look up to for guidance. It’s too bad that people like Ronde Barber are so few and far between. I can only wish for a world that had more people like him, who put loyalty before a payday, and honor before ease of gain, because if more were like him, it’s likely that the world would be a much better place. School levies wouldn’t be required, politics wouldn’t be so dirty, and people would mean what they say.
But since there aren’t many people like Ronde Barber in the world, I will enjoy the only one I know of on Sunday afternoons as he plays at Raymond James Stadium for one more year, and thank God he is still there. Because someone must pass on the torch, and it’s a veteran like Barber who has the potential to lead a rag-tag team of youngsters into the next decade of domination because it’s leadership that does such things and leadership exists at the front of the train, not in the size of the paycheck.
To understand the truth it helps to view the world through Hoffman Lenses. To understand what those are CLICK THE LINK. If you can’t handle the truth, then don’t read here.