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While Streaks Are Equal, Ronde Barber Impressed By London Fletcher

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – While Ronde Barber and London Fletcher have each started 227 consecutive games – every one since the beginning of the 1998 season – Barber finds Fletcher’s accomplishment much more impressive.

Barber

“I don’t know how he’s doing it,” said Barber, Tampa Bay’s starting free safety. “Doing it at middle linebacker 15 straight years is way more impressive than me. I’ve taken some hits in my day, but not nearly the type of pounding that he has over his career, so much respect for him.”

Barber was drafted by the Buccaneers out of Virginia in the third round in 1997 and played in only one game that season before beginning his streak. He has been to the Pro Bowl five times, has a team-record 44 interceptions and his 28 sacks rank second all-time amongst defensive backs.

Fletcher, meanwhile, went undrafted out of Division III John Carroll before the 1998 season, and he bounced from St. Louis to Buffalo before signing with the Washington Redskins in 2007. He has appeared in three consecutive Pro Bowls and led the NFL with 166 tackles last season.

A cornerback during his first 15 years in Tampa Bay, Barber made the transition to free safety before the season.

“He’s like having a coach on the field,” said Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano. “The best part is his work ethic is extraordinary. His preparation in the meeting room, in the walkthrough, on the practice field – you would think he’s a free agent trying to make the club. He serves as a great example for our younger team.”

Barber has started 202 consecutive games, which tops Fletcher’s run of 182 starts. Being able to play in so many games is a matter of perseverance, not luck, he said.

“I think you make your own luck,” Barber said. “If you take care of yourself, you can ward off some of the things that keep other people out. I’ve been pretty consistent with the things that I’ve done in the offseason and during the regular season for about 10 years now.

“Obviously, I haven’t been in any piles or anything catastrophic that’s happened to my knees or something that’s kept me out of any games. That’s definitely part of it, too. I think if you do the little things and take care of yourself, then it definitely makes it possible.”

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