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Tiki Barber: “I need the game”

In March 2011 former New York Giant RB, Tiki Barber filed for reinstatement to the NFL. Some are speculating that Barber is attempting to rejoin the NFL is a treatment for depression. Barber spoke with Armen Keteyian on HBO’s Real Sport with Bryan Gumbel about his life and his NFL comeback.

“I need to prove to myself that I can be successful at something. I know I am 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.”

“I remember there were days where I would literally wake up, have a cup of coffee, get something to eat and sit on the coach and do nothing for 10 hours. I started to shrivel. I didn’t have that confidence. I don’t have the, that aura anymore.”

“The game never needs you because there’s always someone else to take your place…But right now, I need the game.”

Tiki Barber as a member of the New York Giants

Barber retired following the end of the 2006 season, after 10 seasons with New York Giants. Rushing for a team-high 10,499 yard, 1,662 years in the 2006 season, Barber retired near the top of his game. Barber referred to the wear and tear on his body as the reason for his retirement. He planned to peruse a broadcasting career and to help build affordable housing.

Working as an analyst for NBC in 2007, Barber started his career by criticizing QB Eli Manning’s leadership skills, and continued to cause a commotion when he has carped head coach Tom Coughlin later that season. NBC had decided not to renew Barber’s contract in 2010. The decision came shortly after Barber announced that he would be divorcing his wife of 11 years, who was pregnant with twins, for an intern at NBC he was having an affair with.

In response to his desire to return to the NFL, the New York Giants will not retain Barber’s rights. The New York Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon stated in March that “We [The New York Giants] wish Tiki nothing but the best, and when we are able to make the transaction, we will release him from our reserve/retired list”. The Giants are expected to release Barber as soon as a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, told FoxSports that other teams have shown interest in signing Barber. If Barber is signed by an NFL team, he would make the ‘veteran’s minimum’, approximately $800,000 a year. That’s enough money to bring anyone out of a depression.

Note: Episode #171 of Real Sports with Bryan Gumble featuring the Tiki Barber interview  aired  June 21, 2011 at 10:00PM EST.

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