Ronde Barber Has Words for Skeptics: Tiki Still Has Drive to Play

PALM HARBOR - Ronde Barber has some choice words for anyone skeptical of Tiki Barber's proposed comeback bid.

Don't bet against him.

Before playing in the Shelton Quarles Celebrity Pro-Am Monday at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead course, Tampa Bay's veteran cornerback discussed the league's labor impasse and the chances his identical 35-year-old brother will return to the NFL after a four-year absence.

"I wouldn't put anything past the guy,'' Ronde said of Tiki, who retired from the Giants after the 2006 season, despite rushing for 1,662 yards. "He's sitting around with a lot of nothing to do at the moment. Tiki's got the same drive that I do and he's missed football for sure … especially the last couple of years. If nothing materializes, nothing materializes.''

The Giants are expected to sever ties with Tiki Barber amid growing speculation he will sign with the Buccaneers as a free agent.

Ronde Barber recently agreed to a one-year deal to return for his 15th pro season and Tiki said he has been inspired by his brother's ability to play at a high level for so long.

"You can't close the door,'' Bucs coach Raheem Morris said of the possibility of signing Tiki Barber. "Anybody that can help your team, you want to look into it. Obviously, that's not the direction we're heading right now – we're about youth and building through the draft. Me and (GM) Mark Dominik will have those discussions shortly, whenever free agency opens, but Tiki is definitely an impact player.

"Right now, we have a player that looks like him, plays like him, talks like him, walks like him and has had a lot of success with us. Ronde's an amazing player. Right now, he's ageless. We all know it'll catch up with him eventually, but until that day happens, we're going to continue to enjoy Ronde Barber.''

The lingering dispute between owners and players shifted to the courtroom Friday, when the union dissolved and the league imposed a lockout that could last into the summer.

"What happened wasn't totally unexpected,'' said Ronde Barber. "We all wanted to get something done and something will get done. It's just a matter of when. It's unfortunate we can't go into the building right now. I can't see my guys, but it will all be resolved – I'm confident of that.''

With no contact allowed between players and members of the organization, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman said he will help organize informal workouts in the Bay area.

"I feel great about our team and I wish we were getting back on our fields in a couple of weeks, but we can't,'' Ronde Barber said. "We'll be doing that on our own and Josh already has feelers out to everybody about getting us together. Assuming we're not back, we'll at least be getting ready. I trust our guys to do what they need to do. They did it last offseason, showing great commitment, and we have great leadership. I don't think many people are too worried about this dispute just yet, but if it continues to drag on, I think they'll all need a kick in the butt.''

[The Tampa Tribune]

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