Many professional athletes have unique, and sometimes quirky, pregame routines that help them prepare mentally and physically for the intense competition they will soon face.
For Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber, his routine includes pausing a moment to pray to God with his parents and his girlfriend.
“We all hop on either a three-way or four-way [phone call] before games,” Barber recently told ESPN. “My girlfriend has been coming to all the home games for a while now and my mom usually comes to all my games, so we’ll usually just buzz my dad in. … That’s right before we walk out before the game. We have to pray. My mom usually leads it, my dad will join in and then my mom will close the prayer.”
Barber, in his fourth season with Tampa Bay out of Auburn University, has been praying with his family before games since high school.
He credits his faith with helping him to overcome challenges, both on the field and in life.
There was a period in Barber’s childhood when he and his family had no place to call home. They moved around the Atlanta area sleeping in cars and on floors, and with friends when they could. By the time Barber graduated from Milton High School in Georgia, he had turned himself into a three-star running back recruit.
He ended up at Auburn behind a talented set of backs, including Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and others, but in his redshirt sophomore season, he became one of the Tigers’ primary ball-carriers.
“It was really difficult,” Barber told AL.com about his climb up the depth chart. “I definitely had to keep my faith in God, trust Him. Everything happens for a reason.”
Barber left Auburn for the 2016 NFL Draft with two years of eligibility remaining, but went undrafted. He signed with the Buccaneers, where he again found himself as the fifth running back on the depth chart.
Four seasons later, often silencing questions about his size and speed, Barber is firmly entrenched in Tampa Bay’s running back rotation. He signed a $2 million contract with the team this offseason, and he’s recorded 182 yards and two touchdowns on 53 carries so far in 2019.
— Peyton Barber (@Pb25Peyton) March 20, 2019
“Being doubted is enough,” Barber told the Tampa Bay Times. “I know I have what it takes not only to be a good back but a great back. It adds fuel to the fire. My destiny is already written. Walk by faith, not by sight.”
Barber’s 2-2 Buccaneers travel to the Big Easy to take on the 3-1 Saints on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
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