NFL: Tiki Barber Un-Retires, Can't Find Any Takers
Question, has any former player ever had a worst post-NFL career than Tiki Barber in recent memory. I mean, one that at least didn’t involve some sort of arrest or drug use?
Walking away from football at the peak of his career, Barber appeared to have a golden parachute waiting for him post-NFL. Everyone wanted his mug on their network—ABC, FOX, NFL and NBC.
Barber decided he wanted to be more than just the typical ex-jock talking head, so he landed a correspondents job on NBC’s Today show. There was even talk he would one day replace Matt Lauer once he eventually retired. However, Barber also took an analyst gig for NBC’s Football in America and Sunday Night Football.
There was one problem, though: Barber sucked. Big time. It seems that NBC forgot to actually teach Barber the ropes.
He was terrible on TV and he conducted the worst interviews. Imagine a 15-year-old interviewing Senator John McMain. That’s what it was like.
On top of that, Barber got ripped for criticizing Eli Manning during a Sunday Night Football broadcast. Normally this isn’t a big deal. Plenty of former players can get away with ripping on their former teams and ex-teammates. But Barber’s issue was that he wasn’t really liked as a player.
This is the same guy who as a player for the New York Giants ran his mouth about his head coach, Tom Coughlin, as well butted into fellow teammate Michael Strahan’s contract negotiation.
However, the final straw was a personal one. Barber dumped his very pregnant wife for a 23-year-old Today Show intern he’d been having an affair with.
Now television is a lot like sports. If you’re talented, you can get away with crap like this. If you’re the star, leaving your spouse for a fresh-faced 23-year-old girl is not a problem. If you're Barber, it’s a way for NBC to can you.
One month after the New York Post revealed that Barber left his pregnant wife for an intern, NBC fired him.
Of course, not even Barber can go quietly into that good night. That would be too easy.
In the May 30, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated, Barber talked about his secret affair and having to hideout in his agent Mark Lepselter’s attic, saying, “Lep’s Jewish, and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.”
Sorry, Barber, hiding in your agent’s attic to cheat on your wife is not the exact reversal of Anne Frank’s situation.
Anyhow, Barber decided he
was broke and needed money to afford his young girlfriend, plus alimony and child support loved football again and came out of retirement this past off-season.
The problem is, there wasn’t a big market for a 35-year-old former running back, who hadn’t played since 2006 and was kind of a jerk to boot.
However, with the preseason halfway over, maybe some teams are starting to reevaluate their running back situations. Here are five who could possible use Barber’s “talents.”
Peyton Hillis is the star, but he’s more of a bruiser. The Brown may need a proper change-of-pace backup. Cleveland signed Brandon Jackson from Green Bay, but he injured his toe and is out for six weeks at the very least. Behind him, sits Montario Hardesty, who is recovering from a knee injury from last season.
I’m just not sure the Browns want to pin their backup running back hopes on two guys battling toe and knee injuries—two types of injuries that can nag on for a full season.
Rookie Ryan Williams is gone for the year, leaving Beanie Wells as the feature back again in Arizona. In two seasons, Wells has not shown he can handle a large load. It’s taken him two seasons just to break 1,000 career yards.
Behind Wells, Arizona has mini-me, LaRod Stephens-Howling. At 5-foot-7, he’s at best a scat back capable of catching the ball on third down; but he’s not an every down back. We did talk about Alfonso Smith the other day being a possible gem, but it’s still tough to see the Cardinals rallying behind a guy who only rushed for 700 yards in college.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Just imagine, Tiki Barber joins his brother Ronde in Tampa Bay to help lead a young Buccaneers squad to the next level.
Tampa Bay is set with LeGarrette Blount at the starting running back spot, but when Cadillac Williams signed with the Rams and Ernest Graham primarily a blocker, the Bucs suddenly had no experience sitting behind Blount.
Right now it appears head coach Raheem Morris is relying on Kregg Lumpkin to be the primary backup. Besides the fact that Lumpkin is a third-down back at best, he only has one more career carry than I do. For the record, I have none.
New York Jets
Shonn Greene is expected to regain the starting spot and receive the majority of touches, although LaDainian Tomlinson will continue to get his, too. The question is, what if L.T. can’t hold up?
Behind him sits broken glass Joe McKnight. He’s not an NFL running back, even if the Jets refuse to admit it yet. You just know Rex Ryan regrets keeping McKnight over Danny Woodhead.
Anyhow, if Tomlinson goes down, the Jets could be looking for a veteran backup, and Ryan has no problem making headlines with free agent pick-ups.
The Jaguars have three backs expected to make the roster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings and Deji Karim. In any normal situation, this is all they’ll need. Jones-Drew is a legit top-five back in the NFL, Jennings is a great backup, capable of being a starter on other teams and Karim does most of his work on special teams as a returner.
The problem is, all three are struggling with past and current injuries. Jones-Drew is coming off knee surgery, Jennings can’t seem to stay on the field and Karim has a head injury. If these three can’t get healthy, then the Jaguars might look for a veteran over training some young gun.
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