With longtime Buccaneers standout Ronde Barber declaring Wednesday he is now retired, there has been a debate raging on the Twitterverse about whether the veteran cornerback is an eventual Hall of Famer. (The majority, in my view, believe he is.)
But Barber said Thursday he could have returned for his 17th season of football in Tampa Bay if the circumstances had been a little different. Like, if he would have been slotted as a starter. Maybe.
"Possibly,” Barber told USA Today. “That would've made it a little bit harder of a decision, obviously. But that wasn't the case. They wanted me to play, I don't doubt that at all. I had open lines of communication with Mark [Dominik, Tampa Bay's general manager] the past couple of years about continuing to play.
"At the end, it was me deciding I didn't need football as much as I once did and it was time to venture into a new thing."
That most likely will be a slot in a broadcast booth or on an analyst's desk somewhere, considering his strong communication skills and his impeccable on-field credentials.
But he still gave great thought to returning for another season. He discussed the scenarios with Dominik and coach Greg Schiano while getting advice from twin brother Tiki and former teammates John Lynch and Warren Sapp. But Barber thought about the work it would take to prepare for another season, and he realized he wasn't all that enthused about it.
“I got enough out of football and football's gotten enough from me,” he said.
Still, perhaps his decision would have been altered if the Buccaneers' attitude would have been slightly different.
"Now don't get me wrong, if Mark and Greg 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," Barber said. "They're reshaping that football team. You're spending a quarter of a billion in free agents in two years, they're definitely going in a new direction.”
As is Barber.