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Steelers Legends Back in Canton; Tomlin Gives Barber Gold Jacket



Steelers Mike Tomlin Ronde Barber Hall of Fame

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not have any former players or coaches inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, but numerous former Steelers with Gold Jackets are in Canton to celebrate this year’s class.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety and Hall of Fame coach with the Indianapolis Colts/Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tony Dungy, posted a photo of Steelers legends reunited in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Nitschke Luncheon on Friday. It was the first gathering at the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the Gold Jacket group without Franco Harris, who passed away in December at the age of 72. Along with Dungy, Lynn Swann, Mel Blount, Jerome Bettis, Donnie Shell, Joe Greene, Bill Cowher and Alan Faneca attended the luncheon.


Mike Tomlin also gave Ronde Barber his Gold Jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket Dinner in Canton, Ohio on Friday night. Tomlin was Barber’s defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay during the early 2000s. Barber said Tomlin had a profound impact on his career.

“His influence on me is without words,” Barber said earlier this week. “He transformed me into the player that is now standing in Canton and getting ready to get a golden jacket. There’s a lot of ways I could go about it but really he empowered me and went about methodically making me that guy. I love him to death. We’re best friends still to this day. I can’t wait for him to get here. He’s coming over here from Pittsburgh. He’s one of the guys I’m looking forward to the most sharing this weekend with.”

The Buccaneers 2002 defense that led Tampa Bay to win Super Bowl XXXVII now features four Hall of Famers (Barber, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, and John Lynch). Tomlin was honored to put the Gold Jacket on Barber.

“What an incredible honor this was. Words can’t even describe it. Thank you, Ronde Barber, for including me in your magical night. So proud of you,” Tomlin wrote on Instagram.

Barber also gave Tomlin a shoutout during his Hall of Fame speech.

“Early in my career I was just an ordinary guy, and by the time I finished my fourth year, I was a middle of the road free agent with little to no interest and only one place to go. Stay put and get a new DB coach, and that was Mike Tomlin,” Barber said. “Mike’s not here, but he gave me my jacket yesterday. For his first EDD drill, and if you don’t know what that means, it’s everyday drill. He told me Ronde, ‘You’re different.’ What he had seen me do, no one else is doing. He told me ‘You’re going to be a 20/20 (interceptions/sacks) guy.’ OK, so we set are sights on that. And it would be 12 more years and a 45-25 career that sent me here. Football is always changing. Mike T you helped me change one little corner of the game that would define me. I think he imagined this for me well before I could, and he gave me the air to breath it into existence. Thanks for the empowerment, dude.”

Barber finished his career with 47 interceptions and 28 sacks, leaving him as the only player in NFL history with at least 45 and 25, respectively, in those categories. He’s the NFL’s all-time sack leader for cornerbacks and also made 88 tackles for loss. Twice he intercepted three passes in a game, and six times he forced at least two turnovers in a game. He scored 14 touchdowns on returns: eight interceptions, four fumbles and two deflected punts.


On Saturday morning, Swann joined Peyton Manning and Drew Pearson on a Hummer during the Hall of Fame parade. This year’s class included Barber, Darrelle Revis, Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware, Chuck Howley (senior committee), Joe Klecko (senior) and Ken Riley (senior). Coach Don Coryell was enshrined in the coach/contributor category. The Steelers currently have 29 former players, coaches, and executives enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The next Steelers member to enter Canton most likely will be former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2027.