Tag:Tiki Barber
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:00 am

Ex-Giants RB Tiki Barber: Welcome Back to the NFL

The last time I saw Tiki Barber in a football uniform was at the 2007 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The last time I vividly remember Tiki Barber in a football uniform was a week 17 game against the Washington Redskins during the same season. Barber rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-28 win in DC that gave the G-men a playoff birth. The Giants would go on to lose to the Eagles. In retrospect, however, New York lost much more after that 2006 season. Tiki Barber, who retired due to the physical wear and tear of professional football, is the Giants' all-time leading rusher. The 3x Pro-Bowler racked up 10,499 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns throughout his career, averaging an impressive 4.7 ypc. Standing at only 5' 9'', Barber was too small to punish opposing defenders. He excelled because of his ability to cut back and explode through holes. Another facet of his game was his ability as a receiver; the Virginia alum had 5,183 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns over his illustrious career. When he retired at 32, reportedly to pursue broadcasting opportunities, it was believed that Tiki was done for good. It is unprecedented for an NFL running back to call it quits during his prime. Thus, Tiki's retirement was an indication that he was leaving the game for good reason. Although he initially enjoyed relative success in the field of broadcasting, Barber was fired by NBC last May. His failure in the field broadcasting is only one of several problems that has characterized Barber's career: during as well as after his tenure in the NFL. Before the start of the 2007 season, Barber questioned Eli Manning's leadership abilities in an interview. It's important to note that the Giants did, in fact, go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Tiki also developed contentious relationships with several teammates, notably defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive tackle Keith Hamilton. I am the first to admit that Tiki Barber was an excellent player. However, he was not a well-liked player. Despite his marked improvement during Tom Coughlin's tenure as head coach of the New York Giants, Barber publicly criticized him two times. Out of football, out of broadcasting, and reportedly plagued by significant marital issues, Tiki Barber needed something. But nobody thought that something was the NFL. It was announced Tuesday that Barber has filed papers to come out of retirement. The 36-year-old will not be making his comeback in New York. Barber has indicated that he is interested in joining his brother Ronde in Tampa Bay. Tiki Barber was a great player, one of the Giants' all-time greats. But, all good things must come to an end. At 36, despite reportedly being in good shape and injury free, it would be nearly impossible for the 2005 All-Pro to be an elite running back in today's league. Best case scenario: he's an average third-down back who contributes sparingly behind an established starter. No running back 36 or older has rushed for more than 830 yards in a season; Tiki Barber will not buck that trend. With his history of volatile relationships with teammates, I cannot possibly see a situation in which the benefits outweigh the risks. Barber will not provide locker room leadership or help develop a young running back. He will be more of a nuisance than a mentor. Former giants linebacker and captain Antonio Pierce summed it up pretty well: "Tiki Barber, the leader, the person in that locker room? He is not going to do anything for your team." The ESPN analyst went on to further expound upon his feelings about the possible comeback: "Now if that is the guy you think you are bringing in, you might want to look in another direction. From personal experience, he didn't do anything to help the Giants [in] 2006 when he decided to retire in the middle of the season and then months later question our quarterback and our coach. That is my problem with Tiki Barber...the guy can play. Can he do it four years later? I don't think he can." Tiki Barber is coming out of retirement because he needs money, not because he loves football. If the latter were true, why did he take a four-year vacation during the prime of his career? I hope that Tiki succeeds. However, I don't envision success as a result of this attempted comeback.
Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com