Barber vs. Barber on the field and in the Hall of Fame
By GARY SHELTON and JOHN ROMANO
Published October 29, 2006
This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano focuses on twins Tiki (Giants) and Ronde (Bucs) Barber.
GS: Okay, John. Tie game. Third and goal at the 3-yard line. The Giants run Tiki Barber around left end, and Ronde has a clear shot at him at the 2. Who wins?
JR: You mean other than NFL Films and the publishers of Ronde's and Tiki's books? I say it would be a collision with historic overtones, and the answer is best left to a geneticist.
GS: Also, it would be fun. As big as this game is for the Bucs, people should take a minute to realize what they're seeing. When you're talking brother acts, this one is up there with Romulus and Remus. The two are better than the Blackwood brothers, better than the Sharpe brothers and, right now, better than the Manning brothers. Heck, they're almost as good as the Statler brothers.
JR: I've heard discussions on whether Tiki will miss out on a shot at the Hall of Fame by retiring early. What do you say, Gary? Is Tiki Hall-worthy? Does Ronde have a shot if he continues on his pace? Will the Hall of Fame offer a two-for-one discount?
GS: I don't know about the Hall. Maybe the foyer. I think both are going to stir conversation for the voters, but it's going to be hard for either to get the required votes. Tiki is having a Terrell Davis-type career, and Davis isn't in. As for Ronde, only seven pure corners have made the Hall. If you aren't considered an amazing cover guy, the voters don't notice.
JR: I think you're probably right, although the Hall of Fame voting procedures in the NFL are absurd. The cornerbacks in the Hall are, for the most part, in the 45-55 range for career interceptions. Ronde is at 30. If he can get more than 40, along with his blitzing ability and the memorable play in the NFC Championship Game, I think he should be seriously considered. I'm just not sure the voters are seriously capable.
GS: He makes my Hall. He's been the best tackling corner in the NFL for a long time, and he's a splash-play guy. Besides, think of the money the Hall could save by sculpting the same bust twice.
JR: Speaking of splash plays, the guy saved the Bucs last week. Did he ensure a long, happy season, or are the Bucs still wheezing on life support?
GS: They're wheezing, but that beats not breathing at all. A little better tackling, a better deep touch by Bruce Gradkowski and 11 field goals by Marvelous Matt Bryant and the Bucs can get to 3-4 and make us all nostalgic for the Tony Dungy days, when the Bucs were 3-4 every year.
JR: Or if they fall to 2-5, you can wear a Ray Perkins mask for Halloween. I'll be Donald Igwebuike.
GS: No surprise there. Except for the time you went as Catwoman, you've been Iggy every year. Give it a rest. The costume is worn out.
JR: For the last time, it wasn't Catwoman. It was Rosie O'Donnell as a dominatrix.
GS: And in a certain light, you were lovely. Speaking of Rosie, I think the Bucs could use her right about now. She wouldn't miss nearly as many tackles.
JR: Brian Westbrook's last touchdown was like a lowlights film of the Bucs defense. Five different guys falling at his feet, diving past or bouncing off him. Four years ago, he would have been planted, and fertilized, near midfield.
GS: Which brings us back to Tiki and the Giants. If the Bucs are going to get back into the race, they're going to have to beat someone no one expects, and to do that, they're going to have to play much better than they have played. Are they Giant-killers?
JR: I don't see it happening. But then again, I didn't see them beating Philadelphia. You get Michael Clayton one week and Matt Bryant the next. Who knows, maybe it's Mike Alstott's turn to be carried off the field.