September 05, 2011
When Tiki Barber told HBO that he was returning to football because he "needed the game," and because he "needed to prove to [himself] that he could be successful at something," I thought it sounded like a recipe for a personal mental health disaster.
Now that NFL rosters are set at 53, and Tiki Barber never got to sniff one, I hope that's not true. According to Peter King at Sports Illustrated, Tiki isn't taking it well.
I tried to reach Barber on Sunday, but he wasn't talking. I hear he's devastated that no team gave him a chance. You might wonder if teams would bring him in after the first game of the season, so his contract wouldn't be guaranteed, and that could still happen. But with no team calling [Barber's agent Mark] Lepselter with even a hint of interest, it's more likely teams would start with backs who've been in some football competition this summer.
Lepselter told me Sunday: "We are flabbergasted that Tiki has not had an opportunity with any team, especially when rosters were at 90 players this year. I certainly thought some team would be intrigued to see what he had left in the tank.''
Where this will leave Tiki Barber the person, I don't know. He's also recently proposed to his girlfriend, the one with whom he was involved while still married to his pregnant wife. So that's good news.
His football career, though, is dead, and it's not coming back. I know Tiki said he needed the game, but I doubt he needs it enough to consider trying to prove himself in the UFL, Canada or the Arena League.
For a guy truly desperate to get back into the league, that's really the only step left. Even if a team suffers a catastrophic string of injuries at the tailback position, it won't be Barber's phone that rings. It'll be someone younger, cheaper, who won't bring any media scrutiny, and will play with fearless abandon on special teams.
Sorry, Tiki. Good luck finding something else that makes you happy.
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