Ronde Barber will not return to play a 17th season in the National Football League. Not with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not with anyone.

The owner of what some consider the biggest play in Bucs history – a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed Tampa Bay's spot in Super Bowl XXXVII – Barber has decided to retire.

Barber acknowledged his decision late Wednesday in a one-word text message to The Tampa Tribune – “Yeah'' – in response to a request for confirmation of Internet reports he was retiring after 16 years.

Barber will hold a news conference Thursday at 2 p.m. at One Buc Place.
“Yes, he's done,'' said Barber's broadcast and marketing agent, Mark Lepselter, president of Maxx Sports and Entertainment. “He's good with it. But we don't sit still. He can't sit still.''

As for Barber's future, Lepselter suggested fans can look forward to seeing Barber cover the NFL for a TV network when the 2013 season begins.

“We have had full in-depth discussions with some of the networks, and I fully expect Ronde to be in the NFL broadcasting business this coming season,'' Lepselter said. “We'll have more on that later.''

Barber, who spent most of Wednesday playing golf, according to Lepselter, contemplated retirement each of the past three years, but was all but guaranteed a starting position during those seasons.

The 2013 season figured to be much different for Barber. After moving from cornerback to safety last season, he was replaced as a projected starter earlier this offseason when the Bucs signed two-time Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson during free agency.

The Bucs said throughout the offseason they would welcome Barber back, but made it clear the decision was Barber's.

“We want him to make the right decision and not rush into anything,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said earlier in the offseason. “As I said all along, though, he was awesome for me and our team. He embodies what the Bucs are about.''

Barber, 38, was the last link to Tampa Bay's victory against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003. He retired after playing in more games for the Bucs (241) than any other player.
“Ronde is synonymous with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, establishing himself as one of our franchise's iconic players over a 16-year, Hall of Fame-worthy career,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement issued late Wednesday. “When anyone thinks of Ronde, they think of a true professional and leader. He approached every day the same, giving everything he had to make himself and his teammates the best they could be. We will miss him.”