For many Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, this remains one of the greatest games in team history. In the 2002 NFC Championship Game in freezing Philadelphia, Ronde Barber intercepted an Eagles pass and went 92 yards for a touchdown. As Times Columnist John Romano recently wrote that Barber’s spectacular comeback not only sent the Bucs to their first Super Bowl (which they won), it “exorcised so many demons that had haunted Tampa Bay fans for so many years”.
Barber, a Hall of Fame finalist who holds numerous NFL and team records, retired in 2013 after spending his entire 16-year career with the Bucs. He became a color commentator on radio and television and with his twin brother Tiki, a former New York Giants player, wrote several children’s books. Barber is also general chairman of Copperhead Charities, sponsor of this month’s Valspar Championship, a PGA tournament on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. We recently met Barber. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get involved in the tournament and Copperhead Charities?
While I was still playing football, Tournament Director Tracy West invited me to organize a few events for them during the week of the tournament. Two years later, Copperheads General Chairman Les Muma asked me if I would be interested in joining the board. He thought it would be something for them and definitely for me, to help me stay involved in the community with something I really love, which is golf. It was probably seven years and eight years ago.
What is Copperhead Charities and how do I join?
It is made up of about 180, 200 businessmen and women, civil servants. You just have to want to be a Copperhead and take responsibility. You have to love golf – you don’t have to be good at golf, you just have to want to be around other people who love golf.
All PGA Tour events are organized by (non-profit) organizations, so our goal, other than having a pretty awesome event every year with the best players in the world, is to raise dollars for charity. local. Over the past 40 years, we’ve raised over approximately $46 million. Every year we try to give about $2 million, and (in 2021) we were able to give $1.7 million even coming out of the pandemic.
What are some of the organizations that Copperhead Charities supports?
Obviously Habitat for Humanity is one of the biggest because Valspar is involved with them in painting the houses. We support all Tampa Bay First Tees. They introduce the game of golf to children and adults that others would not be introduced to the game.
Have you participated in the construction of Habitat houses?
I have two daughters, and probably four or five years ago, we went to a Habitat build and they said, “That’s hard work, man! In the group I was with, I was stronger and more agile, so I had to get up and hang trusses.
You said the Copperheads don’t have to be good at golf, they love it. How’s your game?
Considering I’m mostly retired, that’s pretty good. I play a lot. I have one of those women who allows me to go out three or four times a week. With practice comes expertise.
While you were commentating, did you ever wish you were back on the pitch?
No, 16 years of play is enough. I joke with people all the time that I knocked the wheels off the bus completely. I had finished playing football. Fortunately, I knew exactly what I was going to be able to do. I worked for Fox Sports for seven years and my contract expired two years ago. It has been kind of a blessing because this role now has its time and responsibilities.
How did you and your brother become authors?
Long ago, Tiki and I were both Verizon Literacy Champions. Tiki was the ambassador in New York and I was the ambassador in Tampa, and basically we encourage young boys to read. Somewhere along the line, a Simon and Schuster editor, whose son was a Tiki fan, said “your guys story would make a good children’s book” and asked if we’d be interested in writing one. . We did a picture book that was very successful, then two more picture books, and then we got older and wrote more.
It’s quite impressive.
Our book, game day, won a Christopher Award (honoring media that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit”). One of the coolest things we’ve been able to do is twice we’ve had books chosen by the Bush Family Literacy Foundation as Books of the Year.
Are people still commenting on that 92-yard run in 2002?
I would say every new person I meet who was of legal age at the time, if they’re from Tampa, that’s the first thing they say. What’s interesting is that almost everyone I meet in Philadelphia also says something.