The Barbers collide twice, but the feeling of beating a brother proves to be bittersweet.
By JOANNE KORTH
Published November 25, 2003
TAMPA - The moment Geraldine Barber dreaded occurred midway through the first quarter. Her twin sons, Tiki and Ronde, were on a collision course.
Bucs cornerback Ronde fought off a block to tackle Giants running back Tiki after a 1-yard gain, the first time one brother knocked the other to the ground in a live game.
"I was geared in," said Ronde, born seven minutes earlier than Tiki on April 7, 1975. "It was a different type of feeling. I've been saying all week how much I enjoy watching the Giants play because Tiki plays for them, but it's kind of a bittersweet feeling because I want them to win every week. I couldn't let it interfere with my job and how we prepare to win ball games."
The Barbers, teammates in high school and at the University of Virginia, entered the NFL in 1997. The Bucs and Giants met in their first three seasons, but one brother or the other played a limited role. In Barber Bowl IV, the two not only were starters, they were stars for their teams.
Contact was inevitable.
Ronde tackled Tiki twice, both in the first half.
"He tracked me down a couple times," Tiki said. "One time he got a pretty good shot on me. I'm proud of the way he played and the way he hung in there. Good luck to him. I love him. But it's disappointing professionally."
On the Giants' first possession it seemed plays were called to keep the Barbers apart. Tiki's first two carries were to the right, opposite Ronde. A third went up the middle. But midway through New York's second series, it happened.
On second and 6 at the Giants 49, Tiki took a pitch to the left and looked to turn the corner with help from a block by receiver Ike Hilliard. Ronde fought through Hilliard, planted his chest against Tiki's and drove his younger brother to the ground.
Inside the stadium the replay was shown with a split screen, one camera tracking Tiki, another tracking Ronde.
So, how did it feel?
"Oh man," said Ronde, grinning. "I had some help. I can't remember who was on his legs, but it made it look real good. I got him on the ground kind of hard. I walked right away, didn't really acknowledge it. I couldn't make it an issue."
At the end of the first half, with the Giants running the two-minute offense, Tiki gained 20 yards on a draw play up the middle, corralled at the Bucs 20-yard line by Ronde.
Not all went well for the Barbers.
Tiki was unable to handle a hard pitch from quarterback Kerry Collins in the first that resulted in a lost fumble. Ronde appeared to have intercepted Collins deep in Giants territory, but receiver Amani Toomer wrestled the ball away from a completion. In the second half Tiki fumbled on a key third-and-1 play, though his progress already was stopped short of the first-down yardage.
Tiki carried 13 times for 55 yards and caught five passes for 34. Ronde made four tackles.
Ronde purchased a suite for the game to accommodate nearly 50 family members and friends, including Mom.
"I don't know how she did it," Ronde said. "But she had the support of our wives up there."
It was a busy week for the brothers, whose distinction as the first twins to square off on Monday Night Football, put them in demand from local and national media.
On Tuesday they were in New York to film an intro for ABC's telecast in which the two bantered until their mother, Geraldine, interceded wearing a hybrid Bucs-Giants jersey split down the middle. The twins asked the famous MNF question: "Are you ready for some football?"
Geraldine replied: "I'm ready."
After the game started each brother tried not to think about the other.
"I was trying to keep it blank, trying not to make it an issue," said Ronde, 3-1 against his brother. "Obviously, after the game, it's a little bittersweet because he has to lose this game and we ended up winning. But that's the nature of the game."