Draft day can be one of the most memorable times in an NFL player’s life. The feeling of jubilation to hear your name called, to walk across the stage and receive your jersey or to get that phone call from your new team is unlike any other moment in professional sports.
For Hall-of-Famer Ronde Barber and his former NFL All-Pro running back twin brother Tiki Barber, their draft day went a little differently from most. That’s because they spent it on the golf course.
A friend from their time at the University of Virginia took them out to play to get their minds off football. The second and third rounds of the draft wasn’t televised yet in 1997.
They made it through most of the round before Tiki finally got a call.
“We’re on 16 at Birdwood Golf Course in Charlottesville, where the UVA team plays. And we’re in the middle fairway. He gets a call,” Ronde recalled to GOLF’s Subpar co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stolz on this week’s podcast. Barber was the guest alongside Valspar Championship tournament director Tracy West. Barber serves as the general chair of the Valspar, next week’s Tour event.
The call was from New York Giants coach Jim Fassel and Tiki was getting drafted with the sixth pick in the second round of the draft.
After a celebration, the brothers’ game continued and the good times kept coming for Tiki.
“He hits his shot and apparently he birdies it. And that’s his first ever birdie,” Ronde said. “Now I can’t remember if it’s hyperbole or if we just made that up or if he actually really did it. I don’t think he actually really did it. But I think we use that as a story just to be cute.”
Meanwhile, Ronde was still waiting for his call. He ended up waiting three more hours before he was selected with the sixth pick of the third round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’m waiting forever,” he said. “We go to dinner, we go to this place, I got a yard of beer. I’m just like on my fifth one. I’m like, ‘There, I’m not getting drafted.’ And then it finally comes. [Buccaneers coach] Tony Dungy calls me. I get picked 30 picks behind him. So he definitely has that designation over me. He always will, but I’m calling B.S. on that birdie. It didn’t happen.”
For what it’s worth, Tiki may have gotten the birdie on that day in 1997, and both went on to have outstanding NFL careers, but only Ronde ended up with a Super Bowl ring.
How’s that for sibling rivalry?
For more from Ronde and West, including Ronde’s time playing Augusta National and why caddies get nicknames on their bibs at the Valspar, listen to the full episode below.