After 16 seasons, Ronde Barber is hanging up his cleats.
The man who played in 240 consecutive regular-season games, tied with Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher for the longest active streak, told USA Today that the decision was an easy one when he found out he would be playing in a backup role instead of starting for the team he played a crucial part in helping to win their only Super Bowl title.
Barber, who with his twin brother Tiki, made an impact on the NFL in both their playing days in the league, is part of a breed of players who are becoming extinct in sports.
The fact Barber is only a handful of athletes to play their entire careers with one franchise, speaks volumes about where the sports world and football in general is headed.
Ray Lewis announced that the 2012-13 season would be his last, all of them spent in Baltimore. It was another one of those situations where the growing trend of the league means “play for play” where loyalty means less and less.
Barber said his decision was very easy once he found out what the Buccaneers' plans were for the upcoming season.
"Now don't get me wrong, if (GM) Mark (Dominik) and (coach) Greg (Schiano) would've said, 'Hey, we absolutely need you to play, you played great last year, here's X amount of dollars, come play, we need you…' That wasn't necessarily the case.”
But looking at the landscape of the league, how many more are there that will play a entire career in the same season? Being a writer who covers the Jaguars regularly, Brad Meester is the team’s “dinosaur,” having played his entire career in Jacksonville, having been drafted by the team back in 2000. Meester was committed to the team so much, that he agreed to take less money to stay in his “home town.”
The list is not long of players who have enjoyed a home cooked meal every year they have been in the league, but names like Tom Brady and Tony Romo head the class.
Barber’s retirement should not come as a surprise, given the changes in the team’s philosophy in how Dominik and Schiano are building the franchise. The trade for New York Jets defensive back Darrelle Revis and the free agent signing of Dashon Goldson and with the team spending millions in free agency, this is a younger franchise looking to make a splash.
“I've had that conversation with Mark the past couple of years about them needing to sign guys for the future and put players on this team again. Let's be honest, we have a hard time drawing (fans) in this town, so those additions for us are almost essential."
What awaits Barber now is a career in broadcasting and a possible visit to Canton. His statistics are quite impressive; 47 career interceptions, 14 touchdowns on interceptions, fumble and kick returns, a Super Bowl ring and 1,025 tackles.
And now that Barber has decided to call it a career, the question now we all must ask, “Who is the next great to call it a game?”