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Giants officially removed RB Tiki Barber from the reserve/retired list yesterday. Free to sign with any team, if anyone wants him.
That last clause might be the key. Barber was supposed to be interested in playing for the Buccaneers or Steelers. But even Tiki’s twin brother Ronde Barber, who plays for the Bucs, doesn’t think that’s happening:
“It was an entertaining thought four or five years ago,” Ronde said. “I don’t know how realistic it is now. I’ve not had a chance to talk to (GM) Mark (Dominik) or Raheem about it. Maybe the situation would be a little different under different circumstances. But I know he wants to go somewhere where feels like he’s wanted.”
As for the Steelers, it’s not really clear why they would want Tiki, either, and they reportedly “have no interest” in him. The fact is that playing in the NFL is hard. It’s even harder when you’re 36, and harder still when you’ve spent four years away from the game, and even harder than that when the end of a lockout gives you so little time to get back in the swing of things. It isn’t yet clear whether some other team will take a chance on Barber, but I wouldn’t bet on him making an impact.
Tiki Barber's interest in returning to the NFL after four years off is by now well-known. On Tuesday, though, he identified the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as two teams for whom he might be interested in playing.
"We're not looking to turn this into an auction," he says. "There are only a handful of coaches he would want to play for."
Barber notes that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Bucs are on that short list. He also received an overture from former Giants coach Jim Fassel to join the Las Vegas Locos of the United Football League for a season that begins in mid-August.
My tolerance of, and optimism regarding, the many comeback stories we've discussed during this lockout-plagued NFL offseason seems to be much lower than most people's. Still, my reaction to this, as a Steelers fan, is a great big no. Not only has Barber spent four years away from football, but at 36, he's well past the age when most running backs are effective.
Now, obviously, he won't be replacing Rashard Mendenhall or LeGarrette Blount as a starting NFL running back. But even as a backup, NFL teams can do better. The Steelers, for example, have Isaac Redman and possibly Mewelde Moore to back up Mendenhall, and after that, they have two youngsters in Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch to take a look at as well. I suppose it's possible that Barber could fit in there somewhere, but I doubt it.
....We don't know.
But Tiki knows.
Tiki Barber's agent, Mark Lepselter, appeared on the Mike Francesca show on Wednesday and answered (more than) a few tough questions regarding Tiki's exit from NBC and his re-entry to the NFL. While the call was contentious at times with Francesca questioning Barber about his time at NBC and whether it was a "big failure", there was some football news.
Lepselter indicated a couple of times that he knew where Barber was going to sign. Bucs? Steelers? We're not sure. We can speculate on a few teams -- and the Bucs and Steelers would be on that list -- but no one has come out and publicly declared their interest in Barber.
One reason no one has discussed Barber publicly is because his rights are still technically owned by the Giants. Another team discussing a player whose rights belong to another team could be a tampering issue. That said, the Giants have already said they'll release him whenever the lockout ends.
The question is who his next team will be.
Former Giants RB Tiki Barber spoke with Armen Keteyian on HBO's Real Sports which aired on Tuesday night and he opened up about what he's been doing in his four years away from the game. One part that surprised me was Barber indicating that he started to "shrivel" in his time off. He says he would often wake up, make breakfast, have coffee and sit on the couch for ten hours.
Barber also said something that he should remember -- the game stops for no one.
"The game never needs you because there's always someone else to come and take your place," Barber said. "But right now, I need the game. I need to prove to myself that I can be successful at something. I know I'm going to be successful as a football player. I don't know why. The odds say 'No.' I'm 36 and I haven't played in four years. But I just know.''
If Barber can't cut it anymore, no team is going to employ him simply because he's Tiki Barber. What he's done in the past matters very little when you're 36 years old and been out of the game for four years. He's facing an uphill battle but it sounds like he's started to work out again and get back in shape.
I remember Barber used to have a major fumbling problem when he was younger. It was the criticism about him. After working on it for a few years, Barber rarely fumbled. It was an incredible turnaround based on the work he put in to correct it.
Things like that are why I think in the back of my mind that Barber can do this. I'm not sure how successful he'll be but I think he'll find a place in the NFL.
Ever since RB Tiki Barber announced he would be returning to the NFL, there haven't been any solid reports on where he might go. Some think he wants to play for the Patriots while others wonder if he could reunite with his brother in Tampa Bay.
The Steelers have a head coach the Barber family knows well -- Mike Tomlin is close to twin Ronde Barber after coaching him in Tampa from 2001 to 2005 and also knows Tiki. Tomlin wouldn't be afraid of the sideshow Tiki Barber might create, nor would he be shy about pulling the plug if the 36-year-old back couldn't beat out the likes of Mewelde Moore.
Albert Breer of NFL Network writes via Twitter that he's heard Barber wants to play with the Steelers (or Patriots) but the question is whether the Steelers would take him. As pointed out by PFT, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette splashed some cold water on the idea of Barber going to Pittsburgh with a story back in March when Barber announced his intentions to return to the NFL.
They will not invite that into the franchise, especially when it involves a 36-year-old running back (his birthday is April 7) who's been out of the game for four years and who, if he's hurt in training camp, they would have to pay and count against the salary cap. So the coaches (including Mike Tomlin, who used to coach Ronde Barber in Tampa Bay) can talk up Tiki Barber all they want; their bosses won't allow it.
It would appear that, while Barber is interested in Pittsburgh, not everyone in the organization would welcome him.
Check out SB Nation's Behind The Steel Curtain where the idea of Barber coming to Pittsburgh isn't welcomed.
Tiki Barber is 36 and hasn’t played a down of NFL football since retiring in 2006. He still feels as though he’s got a shot to make a return if and when football starts again. However Barber’s story goes deeper than just a desire to play football. According to an interview he gave to HBO Sports, Barber’s return is an attempt to climb back from the depression that has racked his life in the last year.
“The game never needs you because there’s always someone else to come and take your place,” he said. “But right now, I need the game.”
“I need to prove to myself that I can be successful at something,” told HBO. “I know I’m going to be successful as a football player. I don’t know why. The odds say ‘No.’ I’m 36 and I haven’t played in four years. But I just know.”
Since retiring, Barber has been fired from his promising career as an NBC football analyst and watched a marriage to his high school sweetheart crumble.
For now, Barber still has to wait for the NFL to sort itself out before he has a shot to make his case.
There's been a lot written in the last day regarding Tiki Barber's decision to unretire after four years and attempt a comeback to the NFL. First, folks doubt whether he can physically do it anymore after not taking a snap since the end of the 2006 NFL season. Second, folks wonder if any team will take any chance on him. You can read a wide array of opinions from Giants fans at Big Blue View.
If those come true -- he can't do it physically and no team will take a chance -- there's always the UFL. Las Vegas Locomotives head coach Jim Fassel, who coached Barber with the Giants for six years, says he has a spot for Barber if the NFL doesn't work out.
"He says he wants to play in the NFL," Fassel said. "If he wants to come play in our league, I would be happy to have him."
24 of Fassel's Locomotives players have signed with NFL teams following the UFL season so there is a precedent of that happening. Of course, those guys aren't all former NFL stars returning from a four-year hiatus.
There's also the issue of an NFL lockout. If we do see a work stoppage in the NFL, then the UFL might be Barber's only choice -- if he's willing to take a multi-million dollar pay cut.
The reports are indeed true. Former New York Giants RB Tiki Barber is attempting a come back to the NFL after originally retiring following the 2006 NFL season. He confirmed the news to Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com.
"After seeing how much fun Ronde is still having it re-ignited my fire and I'm looking forward to the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the level of where I was."
As we noted, his brother, Ronde, recently signed a one-year deal to remain in Tampa Bay with the Bucs. We don't know the whole story behind his return but it's hard to ignore the reports that came out last summer suggesting he was having financial troubles after divorcing his wife.
The Giants do retain Barber's rights meaning they'll have to eventually activate him and then decide to keep him or release him.
It'll be hard for Tiki to replicate his brother. It's one thing to play in the NFL past the age of 35, which Ronde has done. It's another to take four years off and then come back to play at that age.
The first thing that needs to happen is a new CBA between the owners and players so Tiki will have a season to come back to.
Check out Big Blue View to see what Giants fans are saying about the news.
Ronde Barber recently signed a one-year extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and apparently his brother thinks he can do the same. According to multiple reports, Tiki Barber, 35-year old twin brother of Ronde, has filed the necessary paperwork with the league to unretire and come back to the NFL.
This is the most out-of-the-blue story we've heard in a while. Barber retired from the NFL after the 2006 season so it's been over four years since he played a down in the NFL.
Why come back now? Why all of a sudden? We haven't heard from anyone from Barber's camp to explain the decision.
At 35 years old, it's not reasonable to think he can still make an impact. He was effective late into his career but that was over four years ago and, as far as we know, he hasn't played any football in that time. It simply doesn't make any sense why any team would bring him on.
It's important to note that the Giants still retain Barber's rights because he was under contract when he retired.
Apparently, it's been a rough run for Barber lately. In the last year, there have been stories about him leaving his pregnant wife and his position on NBC's Today Show, Barber has left his position with NBC's Today Show and, according to reports, was too broke to pay a divorce settlement.