Bucs CB Ronde Barber believes his brother, Tiki, can mount a successful NFL comeback and achieve some redemption in the eyes of the public.
Many stars in the NFL have had roller coaster careers. Players like wide receiver Randy Moss, linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are some recent NFL stars that have had controversy off the field that was mitigated by finding success on the field. Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber believes that his twin brother, Tiki, is the next player to follow that trend. Ronde thinks that Tiki can find redemption in the eyes of the public in a similar manner as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
“Absolutely. I’m sure it will work for Plaxico [Burress] when someone gives Tiki a chance. He’ll come back dominant, and [his off-field problems] will be a side story,” said Barber. “In some people’s minds you are always going to be that (a pariah), but at least in your mind you can find some redemption.”
In his career with the New York Giants, Tiki Barber ran for 10,449 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry with 55 touchdowns. He also caught 586 passes for 5,183 yards and 12 touchdowns. Barber had at least 50 receptions in eight of his 10 seasons. He ran for over 1,500 yards in his final three seasons as well with 1,860 yards in 2005 and 1,662 yards in his last year in 2006. After playing 10 seasons in the NFL, Tiki retired to start a television career with NBC.
Over the past four years, Barber’s TV career has stalled. He went through a high-profile divorce. After all that Tiki became inclined to come back to football this year. Seeing the success of Ronde, who played at a very high level at age 35 last year, inspired Tiki to make a comeback. Ronde was third on the Bucs in tackles with 102 in 2010. He also had nine tackles for a loss, one sack, seven quarterback pressures, 16 passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble. Tiki has been working out hard and is back to his playing weight of 200 pounds.
Still, Ronde acknowledges that thee NFL lockout has made it a bad year for Tiki to return to the league. Like all players, Tiki was deprived of the free agency marketplace to find a new team. He also would have had the benefit of OTAs (organized team activities) to learn the team’s offense in any other year.
“No free agent market, and he’s still under contract with the Giants, technically,” said Ronde Barber. “They still have to release him but they can’t right now. The one positive is prior to last week he can get back into the swing of things under the radar. He can get back to working with the guy that made his career – Joe Carini, a guy in Jersey that he worked all those years with – without having to be obligated to a team. That’s a positive for him.”
Last week, Tiki had a quote in which he likened himself to Anne Frank in a story in Sports Illustrated
that once again put the former Giants running back in a negative light.
“The SI article,” said Barber. “The whole Anne Frank deal and all that BS. It is what it is. It was completely taken out of context but it’s another hit. It was a one-day story but still…”
Ronde’s comments illustrate that Tiki’s physical strides are an example of his dedication.
“He looks the part now. He’s working at it, but he’s really got no other direction right now,” said Barber. “He left NBC. He wasn’t really doing much with Yahoo even though he was working with them. It makes sense for him in his head to come back and try to rebuild something. He’s taken a lot of hits – a lot of negative hits the past three years. The one way you can re-endear yourself to people is to do what you do best. People are waiting for Tiger Woods to start playing good again so people can stop talking about all the negative stuff. Tiki wants to do something positive with his life so people can stop talking about all the negative stuff.”
The harsh media spotlight in New York has been steadily increasing on Tiki since he retired. Tiki became a villain to Giants fans after some public criticism of quarterback Eli Manning and coach Tom Coughlin. As his TV career slowed down, Tiki's public divorce with his wife, Ginny, who was pregnant with twins at the time, took center stage. The steady stream of negative attacks in the media on Tiki have been difficult for Ronde to watch.
“That’s the reason I haven’t been to New York as much as I used to,” said Ronde. “It is a city that loves to love their stars, but it loves to hate them even more. It is what it is. It is hard to hear about anybody that you love and care about. It is hard for me to hear about Aqib [Talib]. It breaks my heart every time I have to read something negative about him. I know him to be a good guy, just like I know my brother. People’s perceptions ... and Tony [Dungy] used to say it all the time: you have perception and reality. In our business, perception is reality. Having to deal with that reality, and people’s reality of you, is hard for people that care about somebody to deal with.”
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