Tiki Barber’s return to football is a treatment for depression

Shutdown Corner

Professional football is not kind to running backs over the age of 30. Presumably, it's even less kind to those closer to 40 than 30 and who also haven't played in four years.

All that made it difficult to understand why Tiki Barber decided to attempt an NFL comeback. There was originally some speculation that Tiki was in financial trouble, and he needed a few NFL paychecks to pull him out of it. Now it seems like he's in emotional trouble, and is counting on football to pull him out of that.

Here's what Tiki told HBO.

Barber said football represents a necessary anchor in a life turned upside down by the depressive aftermath of scandalous divorce and disintegration of his television career.

"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," [Barber] 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."

If that's the reason -- that he needs to prove to himself that he can be good at something -- going for the title of "NFL running back" in his mid-30s might not be the best choice. Maybe try gin rummy. Or Zumba.

Not that I have any interest in telling anyone what they should or shouldn't do. I honestly hope it works out for him, and if it's what he wants to do, and he's still capable, then hey, go get yourself some, Tiki.

I just have my doubts about whether or not he can find what he's looking for. If his depression is a by-product of his divorce and not-exactly-as-envisioned TV career, then reclaiming football glory isn't going to fill the void. Those problems need to be addressed where they exist. Burying yourself in football might help temporarily, but it's not going to make anything go away.

I've got a bad feeling about this whole comeback.

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