Tiki, Tiki, Tiki!
What do you mean “playing the field” again?
Tiki Barber, the charming New York Giants running back who retired in 2006 to work full-time on TV, is returning to his first love, football.
With Tiki, you have to say “first” love. That’s because the multi-tasking talking helmet got major boos at NBC and in the sports-gossip pages for scoring with a 23-year-old TV intern while his wife was pregnant with twins.
That didn’t help his broadcasting career, immediately silencing talk that Tiki was the next Matt Lauer. But Tiki says it wasn’t any personal life scandal that made him to file his coming-out-of-retirement papers on Tuesday with the NFL. It was his twin brother, he says, who inspired him to pull on his cleats again.
“After seeing how much fun Ronde is still having, it reignited my fire,” the nearly 36-year-old Tiki told FOXSports.com. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the level of where I was.”
While he was on the field, Barber, though small for a running back, never shied away from getting hit. Could that kind of determination help him? ESPN New York.com says that "no running back that age or older has rushed for more than 830 yards in a season."
Still, he has plenty of time for the gym.
Tiki is getting divorced now from Ginny Barber, his wife of more than 11 years. The Barbers have four children including the 1-year-old twins.
Once a hugely popular player, Tiki, the Giants' all-time leading rusher, developed a real knack for alienating his coaches, teammates and fans, even before his office dating became an issue. He ripped Giants quarterback Eli Manning and rattled others by signing a TV deal during – not after -- his final season.
Coach Tom Coughlin wondered aloud: How much commitment to the team did Tiki still really have?
For Tiki, money could be as big an issue now as any friendly fraternal jealousy. When NBC terminated the contract that reportedly paid him $300,000 a year due to a morals clause, no other networks rushed forward with comparable deals. And Tiki said he was too broke to pay a divorce settlement to his wife.
That could be true. He was last seen as a football commentator on Yahoo Sports.
Ellis Henican, is a Newsday columnist and Fox News contributor. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “HOME TEAM: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life” and “IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE: Dale, Daytona and the Day that Changed Everything.”