Tag:Tiki Barber
Posted on: June 22, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 8:13 pm
 

Francesa: NBC said Tiki 'did a bad job'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After an introspective, and at times poignant appearance on HBO's Real Sports Tuesday night, the Tiki Barber Comeback Tour marches on. Next stop: Mike Francesa's radio show.

Barber announced in March that he was un-retiring from the NFL after a four-year layoff, citing money and depression as factors. Not surprisingly, his Wednesday chat with Francesa was at times contentious, especially when the conversation turned to Barber's broadcast career.
  • Francesa: “The guys at NBC, and I know all of them, they felt that you did a bad job and they said that they thought you were entitled. I mean, they were not complimentary about your work. Let’s not run away from that, this is part of the story.” 
  • Barber: “If you tell me who it was and you get that person on air, I will have a debate with them. I think that’s cowardly of someone to talk behind someone’s back and not tell them, because the truth of the matter is, I don’t know what I could have done better at NBC.” 

    “I respect you because I think you have a great knowledge about sports and about the game of football. Do you always do it the correct way? I’m not sure. Do you interview people the correct way, because we’re talking about my life here. I’m not so sure.” 

    “Mike, I understand what you’re saying. You’re not wrong but you’re also not right. Because to characterize the three years that I had at NBC as abject failure is just wrong. It’s just not correct.” 
Francesa's comments sound familiar. Even when Barber was playing with the Giants. "Most [of his teammates] hated Barber," CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last month. "I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers."
Tiki's Return?

It's also interesting that Barber thinks its "cowardly of someone to talk behind someone’s back" since, you know, that's sort of what he did during his first season with NBC when he questioned the leadership skills of Giants QB Eli Manning. Of course, Manning no doubt enjoyed the schadenfreude of Barber having to admit in a sit-down interview more than a year later that he was "clearly proven wrong."

Barber contends that his tenure at NBC wasn't an "abject failure." Francesa disagreed, as did Barber's agent, Mark Lepselter. At least in the sense that he knew early on that Barber's television career could be in trouble. In April, ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor wrote that "Lepselter … didn't like the early vibe he was getting from his client's first months as a broadcaster." Lepselter said that he was "pushing hard" for Barber to sign with the Bucs in 2007 "because I already knew things weren't going in the right direction for Tiki (on television)."

But those are just footnotes to the bigger story that Barber's failures at NBC, along with personal struggles, led him to this point. The chances that he makes an NFL roster are slim. Being closer to 40 than 30 doesn't help, nor does the perception that he's pompous, selfish and not much of a locker room presence.

People love comeback stories, especially in sports. And, in general, fans are a forgiving bunch. It just helps that if the person seeking redemption doesn't confuse hubris for humility.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:30 am
 

Could Plaxico Burress end up back in Pittsburgh?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We spent a lot of time Monday explaining why the Steelers should pass on 36-year-old running back Tiki Barber (you'd think the phrase "36-year-old running back" would suffice in scaring off potential suitors; apparently not). But Barber's not the only former NFL player on the wrong side of 30 looking for gainful employment.

Plaxico Burress, fresh out of prison and more than two years removed from his last NFL game, wants to get back in the league. Interest has been lukewarm, although that may change once the lockout ends and free agency begins.

For now, though, Sports Illustrated's Peter King is "mind-boggled" by the tepid interest in Burress. King writes: "Just stupid. In the right offense he'll be the big target many teams lack, and, if healthy, he'll catch 60-plus balls and be a good deep threat. At worst? He's not going to cost much. What's the downside? Rams, Browns? Tell me. I'm dying to know."

Well, one team that appears to be interested also drafted Burress in 2000. Yep, the Steelers.

Twitastic details via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat reporter Gerry Dulac.

"Steelers coaches are interested in Burress but depends on price. They would release Randle El to make room."

We have little trouble believing the Steelers would release Antwaan Randle El. By the end of the season, he had lost his job to rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. And while Randle El is a valuable locker room presence, he doesn't have much left as a player.

Whether that means Burress could replace him is another conversation. Ben Roethlisberger has long supported Burress and lobbied the organization to keep Burress when his contract expired after the 2004 season.

Roethlisberger has also said previously that he likes throwing to tall targets, even though, on average, height doesn't have any bearing on a wide receiver's effectiveness. For recent proof, just look at Limas Sweed. Of course, if Dulac is right, Steelers coaches might consider Burress the type of player they were hoping Sweed would grow into.

In the end, we remain skeptical about Burress returning to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Sanders at the top of the depth chart, and Brown will likely be the No. 4 wide receiver. We're not sure there are enough snaps to go around. Or more importantly: what type of player Burress will be after spending more than 20 months in prison.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Why Tiki to the Steelers doesn't make sense



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The three most talked about players in recent weeks -- Terrelle Pryor, Plaxico Burress and now Tiki Barber -- combined for exactly zero yards, zero touchdowns and zero games played last NFL season. Or the one before that. In fact, only Burress has seen an NFL field at all since 2007; Barber retired in 2006, and Pryor was in college until he had a sudden change of heart earlier this month.

All three are looking to get (back) into the league, and all appear to face long odds. To varying degrees, they come with baggage, and Burress and Barber are on the wrong side of 30. Our focus here is on Barber since Sports Illustrated's Peter King mentioned him in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Specifically, King spins the Wheel of Educated Guesses on possible Barber landing spots this summer, and it came up Pittsburgh.

Let's breakdown King's reasoning line by line:

"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 also knows Michael Vick well; they both grew up in Newport News, Va. And you know what? When Vick was released from prison and was mounting a return to the NFL, the media connected the dots, and rumors of a Tomlin-Vick reunion followed. Vick eventually signed with the Eagles.

In August 2009, Tomlin told NFL Network's Deion Sanders why the Steelers didn't pursue Vick.

"I spent some time with Mike this summer. Mike's from my hometown, I've known Mike a long time," Tomlin said. "It was bigger than business for me. There were gangs and so forth when I grew up there, but when you played ball, you played ball. It was different. They respected what you did, and you kept it moving.

"Where we're from now gangsters play ball," he continued. "I believe that his redemption and his second opportunity is pivotal for those young guys from my area to see a guy come through the other side and make it right.

"In terms of [the Steelers being interested in Vick], to be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention. So it just wasn't the appropriate time for us to consider something of that nature."

At the time, there were plenty of skeptics; Vick had been an inconsistent quarterback before the stint in Leavenworth, and the thinking went that his best chance at NFL redemption might come with a position change -- maybe running back, wide receiver or wildcat specialist.

Instead, Vick waited his turn and when he finally got on the field, he seized the opportunity, played out of his mind and led the Eagles to the playoffs. But Vick was also just 30 last season; he still possessed the physical skills that made him one of the NFL's most dangerous quarterbacks before dogs and the legal system led to his downfall.

"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."

That's exactly what Tomlin would be afraid of. Referring again to Tomlin's 2009 conversation with Sanders about Vick: "…[T]o be quite honest with you, our quarterback is going through some things of his own right now, and he needs my complete support and undivided attention." It sounds like there's only so much "support and undivided attention" to go around.

And while the Steelers have had their share of distractions in recent years -- from Ben Roethlisberger twice being accused of sexual assault to James Harrison's $100,000 in fines last season to the more benign Jeff Reed duking it out with a Sheetz bathroom towel dispenser -- that doesn't mean the organization welcomes it. It's hard to tell sometimes, but they're not running a halfway house.

(Remember: Santonio Holmes -- the Super Bowl XLIII MVP -- was shipped out of town for several drug-related incidents, including an impending four-game suspension. No one thought the fifth-round pick the Steelers got from the Jets for Holmes was fair value, but the organization had run out of patience with the mercurial wide receiver.)

Putting aside the media circus Barber would bring with him to Latrobe, Pa., there's a bigger concern: He's 36. When Barber called it quits after the 2006 season, he was one of the best running backs in the league. But as we've written several times lately, running backs are among the easiest positions to replace. There's no reason to spend large chunks of the salary cap (or use high draft picks) to get a back when equivalent talent can usually be found on the cheap.

Any team willing to give Barber a shot would probably give him a contract offering the league minimum. But at 36, Barber has, what, a year, maybe two years left? That means clearing a spot on the 53-man roster, one previously occupied by a young, low-cost back being groomed for a larger role down the road. Instead, the Steelers get Barber, who's closer to 40 than 30, and hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly five years. It doesn't make sense.

For fun, we looked back the past 15 years at the RBs who were at least 35 years old and played in the NFL.



Not surprisingly, it's populated with fullbacks who made their living as glorified offensive lineman and weren't relied on to actually carry the ball. Of the 12 players listed, none cracked 1,000 rushing yards for a season, and when we look only at true running backs, we're left with five names: Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers and Hershel Walker.

Of these, only Allen was productive after the age of 35. (In fact, from age 35 to 37, Allen was a top-5 back, according to Football Outsiders. That's mind-blowing, frankly.)

In 2004, Smith ran for 937 yards, but compared to the other RBs in the league, he was well below average. Football Outsiders ranked him next to last among all RBs that season, ahead of the Bears' Anthony Thomas.

So even if Tomlin has a relationship with Barber and thinks he can handle the media scrutiny, the bottom line (because the NFL is a business, after all) remains the same: can Tiki produce?

History says no, unless you think Barber is the next coming of Marcus Allen. We do not.

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in. The Steelers have a good back, Rashard Mendenhall, but no back-of-the-future type who Barber would be robbing playing time from. And one NFL source tells me Barber really wants a shot to play in Pittsburgh.

We have no doubt that Barber wants to play in Pittsburgh. NFL Network's Albert Breer hears that Barber wouldn't mind suiting it up in New England, either.

Regarding Pittsburgh's "core of veteran stars," why would Tiki "fit right in," as King suggests? Here's what CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last month, after Barber compared himself to Anne Frank:

"I covered Barber for most of his career and he remains one of the most versatile backs I've seen. He was also among the most arrogant. Most Giants players hated Barber. I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers."

The Patriots have a history of taking flyers on guys with character concerns (Corey Dillon and Randy Moss immediately come to mind), but that's not the Steelers' M.O.

But maybe this time is different. Maybe Tomlin makes an exception for Barber, who admitted that depression led him back to football after he couldn't deal with losing his $2 million-a-year gig with NBC. Now, he wants another shot at NFL glory.

Still, we can't get past Barber sounding as if he's coming out of retirement for all the wrong reasons. And even though he's not the type of player the organization usually pursues in free agency, perhaps the Rooneys will have a sudden change of heart. We just wouldn't count on it. Since, you know, the Steelers said months ago that they weren't interested.

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: June 20, 2011 9:32 am
 

Report: Steelers could want Tiki Barber

T. Barber wants to start, and he might want to try it in Pittsburgh (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Tiki Barber – the formerly depressed, formerly pretty darn good Giants RB – wants to return to football after a four-year absence -- and according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Barber doesn’t want to be an afterthought. He wants to start.

King writes that he has a feeling that Barber will end up with the Steelers, in part because Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is a family friend. But unless Barber somehow figures out a way to halt the aging process, it seems rather unlikely that he would beat out Rashard Mendenhall for the starting spot.

"I crafted this career, right?" Barber told HBO’s Real Sports in an interview that will air Tuesday. "And I had gotten to the point where I was right where I wanted to be and then I failed. It's hard to deal with. … [But] 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."

Lest you forget, Barber had an impressive run of success when he decided to retire from football. In six of his final seven years before leaving the game after the 2006 season, he rushed for at least 1,000 yards (and at least 1,500 in his last three years; he also led the league in yards from scrimmage in 2004 and 2005). But that was, in NFL terms, a very long time ago.

There’s only a slim chance that Barber could be anywhere near that successful – and make near that much money, which seems to be the point of this entire exercise – once he returns.

And if for some shocking reason, Barber’s comeback doesn’t work out the way he wants it, he’ll go away quietly and not compare himself again to Anne Frank. Because the last time he chose that comparison, that didn’t work out well for anybody.

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Posted on: June 19, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: June 19, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Depression led Tiki Barber to NFL comeback

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Ronde and Tiki Barber are twin brothers. Ronde, a cornerback with the Buccaneers for 14 seasons, has quietly plodded along, often playing at a Pro Bowl level. Tiki's 10-year career with the Giants, on the other hand, was as much about him letting you know he was the smartest guy in the room as it was about his on-field production.

Tiki retired in 2006 to take a job with NBC, where he appeared to be on the fast track to the Today Show. He wasted little time taking shots at his former team, which became all the more ironic when the Giants won the Super Bowl a year after Tiki retired.

But it wasn't long before Tiki's world began to crumble around him. In April 2010, he left his eight-months-pregnant wife for a 20-something former NBC intern, and a few months later NBC decided not to renew his Football Night in America contract.

Then, in March 2011, Tiki announced he was un-retiring from football, which given the way he left the game, made everyone think he probably needed the money.

Well, it turns out that recent events in Barber's life have left him battling depression, and he needs football to lift him out of the doldrums. According to the Associated Press, Barber said he was unable to deal with losing his $2 million per year job with NBC.

In an interview with HBO set to air Tuesday, Barber says, "I remember there were days where I would literally wake up, have coffee, get something to eat and sit on the couch and do nothing for 10 hours. I started to shrivel. I didn't have that confidence. I didn't have the, that aura anymore."

Barber also speaks publicly about his marriage, saying that, "It was in trouble for a long time. And we decided to get separated. But (former wife) Ginny got pregnant in the middle of it. And a lot of people think children save marriages; sometimes it makes it worse. And we split soon after she was pregnant."

It didn't help that he immediately started dating Traci Johnson, who was 23 at the time. Six months after Barber left his wife Johnson wrote on crushable.com: "I knew that Tiki didn't leave Ginny when she was eight months pregnant for me. I knew that his relationship had deteriorated before my relationship with him was even a thought in his mind."

In the court of public opinion, none of that mattered. The New York tabloids killed Barber, which was made easier since he didn't do much to endear himself to the media during his playing days. Also not helping: recent comments comparing himself to Anne Frank.

Now Tiki is looking for football, the sport he left while in his prime, to fill the void created by subsequent failures, both personally and professionally.

"I crafted this career, right?" he said. "And I had gotten to the point where I was right where I wanted to be and then I failed. It's hard to deal with. … [But] 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."

The Buccaneers and Steelers have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Tiki -- Ronde is still in Tampa and Mike Tomlin, a former Bucs defensive backs coach now the coach in Pittsburgh, is close with Barber. The Steelers seem unlikely to take a flyer on an over-the-hill running back with more baggage than upside, but Bucs coach Raheem Morris said recently that "You can't close the door … anybody who can help your team you want to look into it."

Sports are as much about overcoming adversity as the wins and losses. And while it's easy to point to Michael Vick and say, "See, if he can do it Tiki can, too, right?" The difference: Vick possesses skills that defy comprehension, and still people were skeptical he'd be able to play in the NFL after his stint in prison. Barber is 36, and, as we've mentioned countless times before, it's much easier to replace a running back than, say, a left tackle, cornerback or franchise quarterback.

Yes, anything's possible, but the odds are stacked against Tiki.

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:20 pm
 

A Barber finally defends Eli Manning

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It took nearly four years, but Giants quarterback Eli Manning finally got a vote of confidence from a Barber twin. Okay, it wasn't former teammate Tiki -- it was his brother. But it still counts.

Speaking as a panelist on NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2011," Ronde, who still plays for the Buccaneers, had this to say about Manning:

"Eli is definitely a franchise quarterback. I mean he is the Giants' franchise, much like his brother is in Indianapolis. Their offense is gonna go around the way he plays."

Ronde then added why Manning might have gotten short shrift from the fellow players who voted on the top 100. "Eli just has this element of inconsistency, and you feel like he's not gonna have the game that you need to when they need to have it. And I think players see that. ... Sometimes his body language doesn't project how good Eli is, and people get down on him. Players see just the same as the media sees -- he gets down on himself, team gets down on him -- and just I think that's the reason why the players kept him out of this list."

Historically, Manning did struggle with consistency. But he has completed more than 60 percent of his passes every season since 2008. That said, perception often plays a role in what amounts to a glorified popularity contest. If players remember Manning when he was short-hopping receivers, it will -- consciously or not -- affect their vote.

Looking at the bigger picture, this story is as much about Manning as it is about the Barbers. Tiki, now 36, retired from football in 2006, still at the top of his game, to pursue television. He left the NFL with his dignity intact, although things began to unravel shortly after he blasted Manning while working for NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast. NBC eventually dropped Tiki, who was also in the news for dumping his then eight-months-pregnant wife (with twins!) for an NBC intern. Most fans had forgotten about Tiki altogether until he recently announced that he was returning to the NFL because he missed the competition, which we took as a euphemism for "I could use the dough."

Meanwhile, Ronde (who, by virtue of being Tiki's twin, is also 36) has played in every game from 1998 to 2010, many of them at a Pro Bowl level, and all while managing to keep his name out of the news for non-football-related foolishness. There's something to be said for that, and something Tiki could certainly learn. (And as long as Ronde's holding meetings, he should invite Aqib Talib, too.)

If you're curious about the other quarterbacks to make the Top 100, here you go (via USA Today's The Huddle blog):

Donovan McNabb (No. 100), Joe Flacco (No. 90), Josh Freeman (N0. 86), Tony Romo (No. 72), Matt Ryan (No. 52) and Ben Roethlisberger (No. 41) already revealed. The final six figure to be Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Tiki Barber compares himself to Anne Frank

Posted by Will Brinson

At some point, people in sports will finally quit invoking Godwin's Law and comparing stuff to the Holocaust.

That point isn't now, though, because Tiki Barber, in the newest issue of Sports Illustrated, compared his struggles of hiding from the New York media post-affair to the struggles of Anne Frank. a German-Jewish teenager who was forced into hiding during the Holocaust.

Barber, in an interview with Jon Wertheim, describes how he and girlfriend Traci Johnson went to agent Mark Lepselter's house in New Jersey and hid in the attic following the reports of Barber's infidelity in April 2010.

"Lep's Jewish," Barber said, "and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing."

Yes, this is the portion of the post where you either shake your head and stare agape at the page.
Tiki Time?

Of course, as Wertheim writes, this is the perfect example of Tiki Barber: "he has the wit and smarts to make an Anne Franke allusion and the artlessness to liken himself -- and adulterer trying to elude gossip columnists -- to a Holocaust victim."

It's pretty insane, really, that Barber would think it's okay to make that "joke."

Even though nothing about Tiki is that surprising at this point -- he left his wife for an intern while his wife was pregnant and then came out of reitrement at the age of 35 even though the lockout was looming -- his reference to Frank is just crass, unnecessary and completely inappropriate.

The ultimate irony, though, is that if Tiki was still a broadcaster, he'd probably have been fired over this. Actually, that might not be ironic so much as it's a "logical conclusion."

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.5.11: Players not huge Goodell fans



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is pretty adamant about getting a bill done that would fund a new stadium for the Vikings. Even if the state’s budget is going to be short about $5 billion the next two years, Dayton wants this thing done ASAP.
  • The Dolphins will induct former broadcaster Jim Mandich – who also was a starter on the undefeated 1972 Miami team – into the organization’s honor roll. Mandich died last week from cancer at the age of 62. He will be the 22nd member of the honor roll.
  • Another interesting story from Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver on the dislike many NFL players have for commissioner Roger Goodell.
  • A Cowboys spokeswoman who says she was hurt when the team’s practice facility collapsed in 2009 has filed a lawsuit. Jancy Briles is suing the companies responsible for building the structure, and she’s looking for compensation for "serious, disabling and permanent injuries."
  • Former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi, along with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, will attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next week as they try to drum up support for the Wounded Warrior Project. Sounds like a lot of climbing to me.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com