Tag:Jim Fassel
Posted on: September 6, 2011 9:49 am

Agent says Tiki Barber 'has moved forward'

Tiki Barber and his agent were "flabbergasted" but not "devastated" that no NFL teams were interested in his services. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Monday, Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that Tiki Barber and his agent, Mark Lepselter, were "flabbergasted" that none of the 32 NFL teams had use for the 36-year-old former running back who last played in 2006. King added, "I hear he’s devastated that no team gave him a chance."

The response -- from both fans and media -- was the same: no organization, no matter how desperate, needed a guy closer to 40 than 30, four years removed from his last meaningful snap, and worse: not considered much of a teammate. (On the upside: it was the first time in internet history that writers and commenters were in agreement on, well, anything. Tiki Barber: bringing the world together.)

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post spoke with Lepselter, whose story differs from King's retelling of it.

“That is not correct,’’ he told the Post Sunday. “I never said he was devastated. That term never came out of my mouth.’’

Does that mean the word "flabbergasted" did? Because it conveys the same message -- that somehow, two people on this planet couldn't conceive of a scenario in which Tiki wasn't welcomed with open arms back into the league four years after leaving it to pursue a television career. Plus, as PFT.com's Michael David Smith points out, "King never attributed the word 'devastated' to Lepselter — that was King’s word, based on how he has heard Barber is feeling. (Barber is free to clear it up and tell everyone how he’s feeling, but he isn’t talking to anyone right now.)"

And it appears Barber won't be talking anytime soon, either.

“This is the last time I am speaking on this subject in any way, shape or form." Lepselter continued. “You can’t worry about the things in life you can’t control and Tiki has moved forward accordingly."

So there you have it. Barber and Lepselter are moving on. For how long depends on if an NFL team needs running back depth at some point in the coming weeks and months. The Dolphins were the only team to give Barber a workout and that was in August.

CBSSports.com's Michael Freeman heard from general manager whose team needs running backs that Barber wasn't in his plans because, simply, "I don't trust him. That's pretty much it."

We'll say it again: there's always the UFL.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 3:46 pm

Tiki, agent 'flabbergasted' by lack of interest

Tiki Barber and his agent were "flabbergasted" that no NFL teams were interested in his services. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

It started back in March, when former Giants running back Tiki Barber announced that he was coming out of retirement to offer up his services to any NFL team in need of a 36-year-old, four years removed from his last snap and not particularly popular with his teammates (line forms to the right, please don't push).

Turned out, guys who had played with Barber couldn't get in front of a microphone fast enough to speak on his leadership skills.

“Tiki Barber, the football player, great player, will be very productive probably in certain situations,” ESPN analyst and former teammate Antonio Pierce said at the time. “Tiki Barber, the leader, the person in that locker room? He is not going to do anything for your team. Now if that is the guy you think you are bringing in, you might want to look in another direction.”

Weeks and months passed, but the story remained unchanged: former teammates had nothing nice to say about Barber (and twin brother Ronde's silence on his brother's comeback attempt was, well, pretty awkward), and NFL teams were uninterested.

Once the lockout ended and training camps opened, Barber had a grand total of one workout, with the Dolphins, who chose not to sign him instead settling on Larry Johnson (who was subsequently cut a short time later).

Then, on Saturday, teams had to reduce their rosters to 53 players, and the rest of the weekend was spent rejiggering depth charts based on the names hitting the open market. The Bears signed former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, the Bengals added returner Brandon Tate, the Jets claimed wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, and the Ravens inked center Andre Gurode. Through it all, not one NFL team called Tiki.

Tiki Barber: A Brief History

Sports Illustrated's Peter King sent this tweet Saturday: "So 2,880 men went to NFL camps this summer; 1,696 made rosters. None named Tiki Barber. And on roster shuffle weekend, his phone never rang."

In King's Monday Morning Quarterback column, he expanded on Barber's plight.

"I tried to reach Barber on Sunday, but he wasn't talking. I hear he's devastated that no team gave him a chance. You might wonder if teams would bring him in after the first game of the season, so his contract wouldn't be guaranteed, and that could still happen. But with no team calling [Barber's agent Mark] Lepselter with even a hint of interest, it's more likely teams would start with backs who've been in some football competition this summer.

"Lepselter told me Sunday: 'We are flabbergasted that Tiki has not had an opportunity with any team, especially when rosters were at 90 players this year. I certainly thought some team would be intrigued to see what he had left in the tank.'"

We've been through this before but … why? Why would any team be intrigued by a 36-year-old with a history of rubbing teammates the wrong way? Where's the payoff? An NFL general manager can just sign an eager-to-prove-he-belongs 22-year-old with fresh legs and no sense of entitlement for very little money. That Barber is still on his couch is the exact opposite of flabbergasted.

So while Barber may still be out of work, there is good news: he's getting married! It gets better: there's a standing offer to join former coach Jim Fassel in the UFL.

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Posted on: August 21, 2011 7:16 pm

Tiki Barber has had one workout this preseason

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Remember when Tiki Barber announced this spring that he was coming out of retirement? And the scuttlebutt that several teams (including the Steelers and Buccaneers) would likely give him a shot at redemption? Well, we're more than three weeks into training camp and Barber has had a grand total of one workout, with the Dolphins, and he left Miami without a contract.

That was on August 3. We haven't heard a word from him since, even though the Patriots are inviting every old-timer with a pulse to Foxboro to go through the paces (they even signed a few).

With the NFL regular season three weeks away, Barber's window of opportunity appears to be slamming shut. The New York Daily News Gary Myers writes that despite Barber's complicated back story, the former Giants running back has earned the right for another shot.

"Regardless of what you think of how Barber left the Giants in his prime - and it wasn't pretty - or the comments he subsequently made about Eli Manning or Tom Coughlin, or how he split from his wife while she was pregnant with twins, that has nothing to do with this simple fact: He deserves a chance to prove he can still play," Myers wrote Saturday.

"Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress each missed two full seasons serving jail time and had no trouble finding work. But nobody wants to touch Barber."

For all the reasons Myers cited above. Both Vick and Burress were considered good teammates -- something we can't say about Barber -- and both possessed enough raw ability, even after stints in prison, that several teams thought signing them was worth the risk.

Barber's a 36-year-old running back four years removed from his last NFL snap. In football terms, 36 might as well be 86. And his inability to get along with teammates and coaches negates any on-field talents he might have left.

"Somebody might give him a tryout. Nobody is going to give him any money," one GM said when Barber announced in March he was coming back. "I wouldn't even acknowledge it. I would rather read the cartoons. What running back plays at 36? Who wants to bring a guy in for one year?"

Barber's best shot at resurrecting his NFL career might come after the regular season is underway and only if a team has a run on injuries at the running back position and are in desperate need for help. Otherwise, his un-retirement announcement will be just that: words.

Myers adds that "Barber had two years and $8.2 million left on his Giants contract when he retired. He turned down a four-year, $13.2 million deal to work at Fox, where he built up a lot of good will and on-air experience during his playing days, to accept NBC's three-year, $5.7 million deal. He retired too early and then took the wrong TV deal."

Unlike when Barber abruptly retired in 2006, his NFL career is now out of his hands. On the upside, former Giants head coach Jim Fassel has extended Barber an offer to join UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 7:38 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:47 pm

Is the UFL on the brink of collapse?

The UFL in action (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When the lockout first began, the UFL naturally wanted to take advantage. After all, minor-league pro football is better than no pro football at all, right? And if that is the case, you can see why it would be smart of the UFL to try to create some new fans, especially if the NFL lockout lasted into the preseason or (gasp!) the 2011 season.

Except that’s not going to happen. 1. The NFL lockout, from all indications, is close to being over. 2. The UFL doesn’t have the financing to … um … well … you know … start the league schedule on time.

Those are two big problems, especially the latter, because it calls into question whether the UFL is a viable league heading into the future. On Tuesday, the commissioner of the UFL, Michael Huyghue, sent out a letter that reads in part:
Dear Fans,

Today we announced that the 2011 United Football League season will now kickoff in mid-September as opposed to August 13 as originally announced. At the conclusion of last season we announced that we would play in August because we believed then, and now, that playing in August provides a compelling opportunity for us to offer meaningful games during the NFL preseason. At the time we could not have predicted that the uncertainty of the NFL and NBA lockouts would create a destabilizing, negative impact throughout the professional sports industry.

The uncertainty that gripped pro sports delayed many essential business agreements until late in the offseason. In order to provide the product that UFL fans have grown to expect after two seasons we decided it was in the best interest of our fans, our players, our staff and our brand to push back kickoff. Our ownership group, our staff and the entire UFL family remains committed to providing a great 2011 season.

Players and coaches had arrived in our cities to prepare for the season. Many of them will now depart for a few weeks at league expense. We will announce a new training camp and season schedule shortly which will provide a timeline for their return. Some players and coaches will remain in our cities to help market their team.
Basically, the league doesn’t have enough money to play games right now.

I suppose it’s a positive sign that the players (like RB Bobby Rome and Joe Clermond, who’s trying to tackle him in the picture above) and coaches don’t have to find their own way home and that they’ll be reimbursed for their travel fares. Plus, to be fair, the league hasn’t started playing games until mid-September since it was established two years ago. But Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel told Sporting News radio (via Pro Football Talk) that the UFL didn’t have a handle on how potential free agents would respond to the NFL lockout.

Jim Fassel said the UFL miscalculated what a lockout could mean (Getty).“We all thought that the NFL, with their issues, this would be an advantage for us,” Fassel said. “And it’s not. It’s confused a lot of issues, with players and everything else. We talk to players and it’s, ‘Well, I think I’ll sign with the NFL, and if I don’t, I’ll sign with your league.’”

Yet, doesn’t this snafu call into question the existence of the league this year (and forever)? Well, the National Football Post has obtained a letter from Randy Ball, the Locomotives director of player personnel, to player-agents that states the league WILL play this season.

But back to the commissioner’s letter. Blaming the NFL for the UFL’s shortcomings? I’m just not sure I buy that. What I do buy is that it’s nearly impossible for any other pro football league to compete with the NFL, no matter how it’s marketed (if it’s EXTREME! or an “NFL minor league” or “if Donald Trump says it can work”). Aside from the American Football League in the 1960s, it just doesn’t happen.

The UFL might survive this season and live to play another year. But long-term viability? Right now, it’s just hard to see how it’ll last.

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Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 5:44 pm

Fassel reaches out to Barber about playing in UFL

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Earlier this week, Tiki Barber announced that he'd like to play for the Buccaneers or the Steelers.

Not surprising: Barber wants to play for winning franchises. Even less surprising: Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh appear to have no interest in a 36-year-old running back with a ton of baggage who last played an NFL down in 2006.

But now, after a rough patch that included losing his $2 million-a-year gig with NBC and leaving his wife and kids for a 20-something former NBC intern (all while no one -- coaches, players, his brother -- came to Barber's defense), things seem to be looking up. Sort of.

Jim Fassel, the former Giants coach who's now the general manager and coach of the UFL's Las Vegas Locos, has reached out to Barber about joining his team.

"Tiki always kept himself in great shape," Fassel told USA Today recently. "There will definitely be an adjustment period for him to get in the flow of things and getting his body used to being hit again."

Tiki Time

Realistically, Barber's best shot to play professional football again will come in the UFL. And if we're to believe his agent when he says that money isn't the main issue, then the UFL makes even more sense.

As for what kind of compensation we're talking about, Wikipedia states that "In 2010, players earned $6,250 per game, for a total of $50,000 in the regular season; participants in the 2010 UFL Championship Game were paid a total of $10,000 each, with an additional $10,000 going to each player on the winning team. Starting quarterbacks earned a $200,000 salary."

That's pocket change for NFL players, but $50,000 was the median household income in the U.S. for 2009. And even if Barber does need the money, there aren't many jobs out there that will pay him more than that; the odds that he gets another television gig anytime soon are long, as are the chances he makes an NFL roster.

"If [NFL teams] don't have as much time [to practice because of the lockout], starting players are going to get most of the reps," Fassel said. "There is not going to be a lot of time for guys who need to prove themselves."

If Barber needs added incentive to play for an old coach in a new league, Fassel led the Locos to back-to-back championships in the first two years of the five-team league.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:41 pm

Marty Schottenheimer takes over UFL squad

Marty Schottenheimer announced he's taking over the UFL's Virginia Destroyers job (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

While most of those who play in the UFL toil in relative obscurity, the league’s owners have done a pretty impressive job of hiring coaches who have big names and give some much-needed credibility to the league.

Among the biggest names are former Giants coach Jim Fassell (Las Vegas Locomotives), former Cardinals coach Dennis Green (California Redwoods), and former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville (just hired by the Hartford Colonials).

But perhaps the biggest get for the league came today when Marty Schottenheimer announced (via Twitter, naturally) that he is the new head coach and GM of the Virginia Destroyers.

This move was expected, but today’s confirmation is sure to build excitement about the relocated UFL franchise (it formerly was known as the Florida Tuskers), especially considering Schottenheimer comes in with some serious credentials as an NFL coach (a 200-126 career record, which makes him, unfortunately for him, the winningest head coach never to take a Super Bowl title).

A quick story about Schottenheimer that I (speaking of timely!) heard just this week.

One Sunday, when Schottenheimer coached in Kansas City, his squad had just beaten its opponent 10-7, when Chiefs president Carl Peterson and his guest, pass offense guru and legend Sid Gillman, visited him in the postgame locker room.

Gillman, by that time long retired, continued to watch current game film to keep up to date on the latest happenings in pro football. Knowing that Gillman regularly watched film of his team, Schottenheimer asked Gillman what he thought about the Chiefs offense.

Gillman’s response: “Marty, you have no offense.”

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 10:26 am

Could the UFL compete against the NFL's best?

UFL coach Jim Fassel believes the UFL could compete with the NFL's lower-echelon squads (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Ignorant college football fans are forever asking the question, “Hey, what would happen if Ohio State/Oklahoma/Florida/Alabama played the worst team in the NFL (ahem, the Bills.”) Invariably, depending on how much they’ve imbibed that evening, those fans will say, “Aw man, I bet the Buckeyes/Sooners/Gators/Crimson Tide would kick Buffalo up and down the field.”

Of course, this is in no way true. The best college football team in American could make a decent showing against a team filled with professionals. But there’s almost no chance the college squad would actually win (the great thing about saying something definitive like that in this scenario is that there’s no way I can be proven wrong).

I will say this, though. From the 1930s to the 1970s, college all-star teams occasionally would beat the defending NFL champion) .

OK, so that’s settled. No college team would beat an NFL team. We all can agree with that, right?

But what about the UFL? Could the best squad from the UFL beat the NFL’s worst (ahem, the Bills)?

Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel thinks it could happen.

"I can't speak for the other teams, but I think the lower part of the NFL – teams that have struggled this year – yeah, I think it would be a good game," Fassel said on a conference call this week, via Fanhouse.

“I wouldn't make a statement of, 'We can beat those teams.' I don't know about that, but that's just the way I feel about every game. Yeah, I think we would match up and play with 'em, the lower echelon of the NFL."

That’s probably true, when you consider that more than 50 players from last year’s UFL rosters were signed to NFL teams this season (FYI, at the picture on the right, Omaha Nighthawks' and former NFL RB Ahman Green is tackled by the Hartford Colonials' Adrian Grady, rear, and Kenny Ingram (91) ). And while Fassel thinks it could happen, Sacramento Mountain Lions coach Dennis Green doesn’t appear to agree.

"It's like the Rams playing against Ohio State," Green said.

And as well all know, the Buckeyes would have almost no shot against St. Louis.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2010 12:00 am

Starting over in the minors

On Monday, we learned former Redskins QB Doug Williams, the MVP of Super Bowl XXII will become the GM of the United Football League’s hot-off-the-presses approved team in Norfolk, Va.

Williams is only the latest former NFL star to turn up in the UFL. Last week, the rumors were hot and heavy that former Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell would show up in the league, though that hasn’t happened. You also might remember former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper has joined the Sacramento Mountain Lions (working, by the way, with his old coach Dennis Green), while former Packers star RB Ahman Green – a four-time Pro Bowler – is continuing his career with the Omaha Nighthawks.

You’ll remember last year (or, probably, you don’t) that former Bills QB J.P. Losman, former Bengals RB DeDe Dorsey and former Giants coach Jim Fassel starred in the league. The league also is expanding. Last season, four teams played six times. This year, there’s a fifth team – the Nighthawks, coached by Jeff Jagodzinski (who’s had quite a ride himself these past few years ) – and in 2011, Norfolk will join.

If you have a minute, take a look at a UFL roster. You’ll see players who you’ll recognize from the NFL but players you probably haven’t thought about in a while. A guy like Tim Rattay or Eric Ghiaciuc or Chris Perry or Brooks Bollinger (last season’s league MVP). Plus, you’ll see plenty of all-conference college players who simply weren’t good enough to stick in the NFL.

Or you’ll find somebody like Culpepper – a three-time Pro Bowler who threw for more than 24,000 yards and 149 touchdowns in his 11-year NFL career.

This is what he said when he signed:

"My goal for this year was to get on the field and play football," Culpepper said in a statement released by the league. "When the opportunity came for me to sign with the UFL and play for coach Green in Sacramento, I could not resist. I am impressed with his approach to the game and to his players."

He must really want to play. After all, he could have been the Detroit Lions starting QB last year (if he had beaten out Matthew Stafford for the job). I wanted to get a current NFL player’s opinion on the NFL, so I asked Bengals FS Chris Crocker about it.

“Those guys obviously think they can still play football,” Crocker said. “It kind of depends on where they are in their career. Take Daunte. If you can make $200,000 or $300,000 and play eight games, that’s not a bad gig. But you won’t see guys like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning doing something like that, because it tarnishes your reputation.”

I’d say there’s very little chance Culpepper is making $300,000. In fact, I’d be shocked if that was the case. At the maximum, I’d guess he’s making $50,000. But if he thinks he can play well enough to earn another chance in the NFL, why not take the plunge?

All you have to think about is Kurt Warner, who went from obscurity in the AFL to a probable Pro Football Hall of Famer. It's not an impossible task. It's happened before, and Culpepper hopes it can happen again.

--Josh Katzowitz

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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