In the world of professional sports, a 35 year old athlete is a man in the twilight of his career. In professional football, there just aren’t many men with a body left to play, particularly at the running back position. Tiki Barber isn’t trying to hear all of those facts. The 35-year-old Barber told the NFL that he’s planning to make a comeback in the 2011 season. That is, if there is a 2011 NFL season.
Barber has spent the last few years in the broadcast booth, and he’s probably regretted his decision to retire from the moment he made it. Tiki probably thought he had a future in acting, but by now he’s learned how quickly his popularity could fade once he stopped playing in the NFL. Throw in allegations of a sex scandal with an NBC intern and you could imagine how much he’s missing the life of an NFL athlete.
Barber had to live with the pain and anguish of unceremoniously leaving the New York Giants only to have them win the Super Bowl after he left. Even though Barber was the team’s all time leading rushing back with 10,449 yards, Barber had repeatedly had friction with Coach Tom Coughlin. But as soon as Barber left, Coughlin and the Giants have Super Bowl rings, and Barber doesn’t so make your own judgments. But that was four years ago, and now Barber is feeling like he’s got a little more left in the tank.
Don’t expect Barber to return with the Giants though. The Giants acknowledged on Tuesday that the 35-year-old Barber has asked to be taken off the reserve-retirement list and that they will release him once the league allows it. And at this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to just how long that will be.
No moves can be made before the CBA is renegotiated, and it almost goes without saying, that Barber certainly isn’t getting any younger.
Perhaps Tiki figures that if the league continues to soften up on its hitting rules, he can play until he’s 40. I wouldn’t bet on it.