NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — From 1997-2006, Tiki Barber was the face of the Giants.
His powerful legs and cutback ability found holes in defenses and made him the catalyst of the offense. A boyish face and broad smile made him one of the poster boys of New York metropolitan area sports.
Then it all changed.
After his retirement in 2007, Barber’s second career with NBC fizzled and he did not help himself with New York metropolitan area fans, criticizing coach Tom Coughlin and former teammate Eli Manning, saying the quarterback’s attempt to lead an offensive meeting late in the campaign was “comical” at times.
It didn’t go over well with teammates, and certainly not with Manning.
“I’m not going to lose any sleep about what Tiki has to say,” Manning said before the start of the 2007-08 season.
“I guess I’m just happy for Tiki that he’s making a smooth transition into the TV world,” Manning added. “You know, I’ll be interested to see if he has anything to say (about a team) besides the Giants, and what his comments will be on that.”
Coughlin was one of Tiki’s favorite topics — or is it targets — in his playing days and in retirement.
“I don’t know if he’s completely lost control of the team, but it’s definitely slipping away,” Barber said before being inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor last season. “Right now, Tom Coughlin is at a crisis. His job is certainly in jeopardy.”
Giants fans showed their distaste for Barber, who was loudly booed during the October 3 ceremony.
WATCH: Tiki Barber booed at New Meadowlands Stadium
So now, after four years in retirement, Barber is looking to get back into the NFL.
It won’t be with the Giants, though.
“We 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 said in a statement.
“We all disagree with how he left and what he said,” Justin Tuck told the Daily News on Tuesday. “(Tiki’s return) would pose problems … there would be some rebuilding he would have to do.”
Former Giants safety-turned-analyst Antonio Pierce blasted Barber’s comeback attempt on Tuesday.
“Tiki Barber the person? The leader? The person in that locker room? He’s not going to do anything for your team,” Pierce seethed during a television spot. “Now if that’s the guy you think you’re bringing in, you might want to look in another direction, because from personal experience, he didn’t do anything to help the Giants the last year, especially 2006 when he decided to retire in the middle of season, and then months later kind of questioned our quarterback and our head coach at the time, Coach Coughlin.
“That’s my problem with Tiki Barber, but the guy can play. Can he do it four years later? I don’t think he can.”
In its report, SI.com said Barber reportedly left his wife of 11 years, Ginny, for 23-year-old Traci Johnson, a former NBC intern. Ginny was eight months pregnant at the time. Soon after, NBC cited its morals clause and terminated Barber’s contract, which reportedly paid him more than $300,000 per year.
In June 2010, the New York Post reported Barber was broke and couldn’t pay his divorce settlement with his ex-wife.
What do you think of Barber’s attempt to return to football? Sound off in the comments below…
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