Barber’s NFL Tour Nears 50 Stadiums

Ronde Barber has accumulated the sort of statistical milestone achievements that make for a rather persuasive Hall of Fame argument.  Among the round numbers he’s already reached and then exceeded are 200 (consecutive games play, most by an NFL DB), 25 (sacks, most by a CB in NFL history), 40 (interceptions, making him the only 25/40 player in the books) and 10 (touchdowns, putting him in rarified air among all-time NFL defenders).

Here’s another number Barber is approaching that looks nice and round, though the underlying subject matter is a bit more esoteric: 50.

Amazingly, Ronde Barber has played an NFL football game in 45 different stadiums during his 16-year NFL career, and that number will jump to 46 on Sunday when the Buccaneers visit Cowboys Stadium for the first time to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

If that math seems peculiar – 31 possible opponents but 46 stadiums – keep in mind that Barber has been around long enough to see a handful of teams move from an old venue to a new one, such as the Cowboys and last week’s opponents, the Giants.  Also, we are counting preseason and postseason games here, so that opens up some additional possibilities when it comes to the likes of neutral-site and overseas games.  Barber’s total would be one stadium higher if he hadn’t been held out of the team’s American Bowl game in the summer of 2003, and even missing a preseason game is extraordinarily rare for the Bucs’ Ironman.

So, could Barber get to 50?  It definitely won’t happen this year.  The rest of the Buccaneers’ trips in 2012 are to stadiums Barber has already christened, and that won’t change even if Tampa Bay makes the playoffs.  Tampa Bay has not yet played in the Colts new digs, Lucas Oil Stadium, but that’s an AFC team so the Bucs wouldn’t be sent there in the postseason and the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this coming February.

The Bucs are scheduled to play Indianapolis on the road…but not until 2015.  Barber’s longevity is incredible, but even he is unlikely to say he’s a lock to be playing three years from now.  Barring a sudden flurry of new-stadium construction or franchise moves, Barber’s only chance to get to 50 would seem to rest on preseason games – perhaps an August trip to Indy or another neutral-site game.  The chances of either are very small, however, so he’ll probably have to settle for 46…which, of course, is already an unusual and interesting accomplishment.

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