Yeah- I can count up the number of NFL analysts and ESPN reporters who have called Tiki Barber's comeback into the NFL nothing short of pathetic, but no thanks. I know fans, (especially in my city of Philly), that laugh out loud at Barber's attempt to get back into the league. I know Giants fans that are shaking their heads in disappointment, as they can hardly believe that a Giants great would try to make another run at his career. None of that from this writer. I'm here to say something -- It is time to give Tiki some credit.
The moment the ball was handed to Barber in the backfield, everyone knew he was getting some yards. The dude was a flat out monster and was and will still go down as one of the single best running backs in the history of the NFL. There was nothing better than being a fan of the game, and watching Barber do work in games. Regardless of who your favorite team is, Barber was one of the most fun players to watch.
Stacking it all up, his attitude was awesome, and the best part about him. Barber seemed like the kind of guy that would be hanging out with your buddies, drinking a beer, and cracking jokes all the way. Even on the field, it was obvious that his teammates, and even the opposing team, loved being around him. Barber would jog onto the field and flash a smile that was more blinding than the sun, and it was contagious!
My God! I am an Eagles fan, and I see Tiki flash that smile and I'm grinning myself!
So Barber retires after a simply amazing career with the Giants, and he get's himself a job with NBC to become an analyst! When I saw the news that Barber was still going to be involved on Football Night in America, I felt a little like a teenage girl. I seriously screamed with joy! Now I get to see that smile, attitude, and overall aura even though he is no longer on the field! This was a very cool addition to the team at NBC, and I was very excited to start the new season with Barber part of the crew.
Well, Tiki, that did not last long.
It turns out that maybe the 'show-biz' and Barber didn't really work out to well, and his relationship with NBC went sour quickly after signing on. Eventually he was demoted from Football Night in America, and then just fired after doing some small-time stuff. That sucked. But it is fine, do you know why?
Because it is Tiki Freakin' Barber, and he can handle this.
I thought that he would be back on with an analyst job soon, and this slump that he hit was just a temporary thing. I was wrong. Barber hit rock bottom. According to sources, Barber went into a deep depression after losing his job at NBC, and would go weeks without doing anything but sitting at home. Then things got even worse when Barber's college sweetheart filed for divorce after news surfaced of a relationship with a 23 year old intern at NBC was discovered.
Things could not get any worse for Barber. His post-retirement career had totally flopped, and now his long-time wife left him.
What would you do?
Barber is going back to the thing that he was great at. Barber is going back to thing that was no emotion. Barber is going to the thing that he loves. Barber is going to the thing that never failed him.
Now people are saying Barber is crazy? Yeah- He hasn't played in five years, and he is now 36 years old, but is anyone doubting what he can do?
We are talking about the same running back that shattered New York Giants record's as he absolutely wrecked defenses like it was his job. Even in 2006, when his playing time was reduced mainly down to a third down back, he still out-rushed other Giants' backs. Then five years later, he announces he wants to get back in the NFL, get back on the right track, openly admitting that he has been battling depression, and people are calling him stupid?
You doubters- You. Don't. Get. It.
If anything, we should be supporting a player that is battling something as serious as depression, and not criticizing him for trying to turn his life around. Come on! What if your brother, sister, or even yourself were in this situation? Would you call them idiots, and say that they have no chance of succeeding?
Barber sent this text message to his agent when he made the choice to come back to the NFL: "I'm on a fucking mission of redemption."
Tiki -- go get em' champ.
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