Posted by Ryan Wilson
We mentioned it in Hot Routes this afternoon, but we might as well delve into the gory details since there's not much else going on. Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan, former players who now make their living as television analysts, are the latest to say that Tiki Barber should stay retired.
Sapp, who played 13 NFL seasons for the Buccaneers and Raiders, was blunt: “I didn’t think much of him when he did play,” he told Rich Eisen on the aptly named Rich Eisen Podcast. ”I mean that’s the whole point. He was a fumbler all the way through his life, and then all of a sudden, somebody taught him how to hold the ball up high and then he (left the Giants) and said, Eli (Manning) can’t lead them and they’ll never win a championship.
“That kind of lends to who I’m talking about. This is the same guy. This is all encompassed into the same thing. There’s no way you turn your back on your teammates that block for you, that gave you the ball on short fields and did whatever they did. … There’s still no reason for you to attack your teammates.”
Strahan, who played with Barber in New York, was in no hurry to defend his former teammate. “Sapp is 100 percent right,” he said. “Only thing is, if it comes to playing football, he can play.”
And that's the thing, Barber was a tough downhill runner. His biggest issue now, apart from the fact that he's 36 and last played in the NFL in 2006, is that he's not known as a locker room guy.
“I think it plays into the minds of some of the teams that will probably go, ‘Well, he can come in, he can be productive. We think he can. But how does that play into the chemistry of our team?’” Strahan said. “So I think that’s important if you’re a GM. That’s what you’re going to look at if you’re a head coach. Now, if you want guys that are going to give you production, that’s going to work hard, is going to bust his butt, you’re going to get all of that … But the other part, I’m not sure myself.”
Two related questions: has anyone defended Barber? We can't recall a single person stepping forward and saying, "Tiki would be a great addition to any NFL team!" Also: anybody else find it peculiar that Ronde, Tiki's identical twin who still plays with the Bucs, hasn't spoken up on behalf of his brother?
Maybe Ronde doesn't want to get involved (which is completely understandable). Or perhaps he doesn't think Tiki should return to football, either. We've mentioned it before (as have the commenters), but it's a strange juxtaposition, Tiki and Ronde. One player disliked by his former teammates, and another who appears to be well respected by players, coaches and fans, quietly plodding along, often playing at a Pro Bowl level during his 14-year career.
When the lockout ends and training camps begin, Tiki very well could get his opportunity to make an NFL team. It's just that history, age, and a lot of former players (some of them teammates) are against him.
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