Fans at Raymond James Stadium had a special treat during the Eagles’ Monday Night Football game against Tampa Bay this week. The Buccaneers celebrated Ronde Barber’s Hall of Fame Ring ceremony during halftime.
Ronde Barber boasts an impressive NFL career, including a Super Bowl championship in 2003, three First-team All-Pro selections, five Pro Bowl appearances, and a share of the NFL interceptions record in 2001. He also holds the record for the most consecutive starts by a defensive back with 224.
His journey began at the University of Virginia, where he was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 1994. The Buccaneers drafted Barber in the 3rd Round of the 1997 NFL Draft.
In the 2003 NFL Playoffs, the Eagles aimed to end a 42-year championship drought. They had come close in 2002 but fell short in the NFC Championship Game against the St. Louis Rams.
The Eagles entered the 2003 playoffs as the top seed in the NFC and defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Round. Their next opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had struggled in cold weather playoff games and were in Philadelphia. The Eagles had previously beaten Tampa Bay in the playoffs in 2001 and 2002.
The 2003 NFC Championship Game marked the final Eagles home game at Veterans Stadium, which had been their home since 1971. The game was reminiscent of the 1981 NFC Championship Game when the Eagles triumphed over the Cowboys to reach their first Super Bowl.
The game kicked off with Brian Mitchell’s 70-yard return followed by Duce Staley’s 20-yard touchdown run. However, Tampa Bay seized control for much of the game.
With just over six and a half minutes left and trailing 20–10, the Eagles began a late drive. Ronde Barber’s interception and sprint to the end zone sealed the victory for Tampa Bay, marking the end of an era at Veterans Stadium.