And not the way you’d think.
Tiki Barber’s now-classic interview with Mike Francesa was such a hit that maybe the former NFL star should make it a weekly appearance in which he, Francesa and Barber’s ubiquitous agent Mark Lepselter all appear together and have a sparring session.
I’m only half-kidding.
I discussed this when it happened in June. Francesa attacked Barber, in part I think, because they started on adversarial ground when Barber insisted on having his agent on the line to “protect” him.
It didn’t work. It made things worse.
You can listen to the relevant portion of the interview below from Youtube. It’s worth it.
According to Lepselter, Barber has “moved forward”.
Professional wrestling may be next.
Aside from that, what he’s going to do now is anyone’s guess.
It’s hard to have sympathy for Barber because this appears to be a mess of his own making. I’m not talking about his public split with his wife and relationship with an intern at the Today Show where he was working as a reporter. That’s no one’s business but his. I’m talking about his reputation as a divisive force in the lockerroom and relentless PR barrage announcing his comeback along with a series of maudlin—borderline pathetic—appearances on such shows as HBO’s Real Sports and with Francesa.
Who wants to deal with that for someone they don’t know can still produce?
Without this reputation and that agent, I’m sure some team somewhere would’ve brought Barber into camp and given him a chance to make their team.
The NFL is notorious for tolerating players who are considered malcontents as long as they can help a coach/GM keep his job; once that use is wrung out of them, they’re discarded like a smelly sponge.
At age 36, not having played for five years and with the baggage he’s toting, is it really something to be “flabbergasted” about that with the shortened NFL training camps, no one wanted to deal with the media circus and entourage?
Maybe there will be a desperate team to call him at mid-season—Michael Vick got a job after what he did and Barber’s issues are mostly self-made. He’s not a despicable human being who’s seeking redemption and a paycheck after vicious crimes.
But Barber detonated bridges when he crossed them into retirement and it turns out that those bridges were needed in his future.
He can probably still play, but it doesn’t appear as if he’s going to get the chance to prove it.