Gary Barbaro – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
East Jefferson HS/Nicholls State/NFL
Gary Barbaro may be the definition of a late-bloomer. After playing just one year of high school football at East Jefferson High, he went on to a star football career at Nicholls State and then a seven-year run in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Nicholls State was a young Division II program in its early years of existence and Barbaro played all over the field, including a stint at quarterback during his sophomore season. His quickness and 4.5 speed in the 40 caught the eye of the Chiefs and they selected him in the third round (74th overall) of the 1976 NFL Draft.
“When I was taken, I had no clue about the draft. I had never even met anyone who had been drafted,” said Barbaro, the first player from Nicholls ever selected by a professional football team. “A free safety has to be able to break on the ball. That’s where my quickness helped me. And you need to do your homework because some quarterbacks are good at looking you off and pump-faking you out of position.”
A three-time Pro Bowl selection (1980, 1981, 1982) at defensive back, Barbaro played in 101 career games, registering 39 interceptions, including three he returned for touchdowns. He had a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Seahawks in 1977 which was the Chiefs’ record as of 2021. In 1980, he was voted the team’s MVP after picking off 10 passes.
After his seven years with the Chiefs, he signed with the New Jersey Generals of the fledgling USFL and played one season earning all-star recognition from the The Sporting News. However, a knee injury brought an end to his football playing career.
Barbaro, who was born February 11, 1954 in New Orleans, was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2013. He is also a member of the Nicholls State Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2000).
See Below for Barbaro’s Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame Video