Derrick Brooks went away mad.

Warren Sapp went away disappointed.

John Lynch went away confused.

There is nothing harder in football than saying goodbye to it. One day a player is planning on having one more year, and the next he is being told he just had it. Nothing stings worse than the team he gave everything to suggesting he has no more to give.

Which leads us to Ronde Barber, the latest Bucs icon.

What if this is the end of his time?

Even the thought of it is jarring. They have been together so long, the Bucs and Barber, and they have meant so much to each other. The thought of one proceeding without the other seems wrong.

Even last year, at age 37, Barber had more big plays than anyone else in the Bucs' secondary. Despite the onslaught of opposing offenses against the Bucs' secondary, Barber was a Pro Bowl alternate. He still had those magnificent instincts of his.