Tiki Barber is on an “[expletive deleted] mission of redemption”

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One of the more intriguing stories of the 2011 offseason will come to a head at some point after the lockout ends.

Will anyone sign Tiki Barber?

He’s been out of the game four years, but he gained more than 2,000 in each of his final three.  One failed media career and a collapsed marriage (complete with young intern girlfriend and pregnant wife) later, Barber has opted to try to re-enter the spotlight via the skills that put him there in the first place.

Complicating matters is the fact that he plays one of the most fungible positions in pro football, where a stream of young, cheap, and healthy ball-carriers will likely be more attractive than a 36-year-old locker-room lawyer with more baggage than Cher on a three-week vacation.

In a sit-down with Armen Keteyian of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, an advance copy of which arrived this morning via FedEx, Barber talks about the events that transpired after the first phase of his football career ended.  At one point, Keteyian asked Barber whether he embraced self-destruction in the hopes of starting over.

“That’s an interesting way to put it,” Barber said.  “Maybe subconsciously.”

Barber opted to make a football comeback after “old friends and current coaches” encouraged him at the Super Bowl in Dallas to give it a try.  Then, when he started working out in March, everything clicked.

“I’m on a f–king mission of redemption,” Barber texted to his agent, Mark Lepselter.

The need for redemption comes in part from the fact that Barber wasn’t able to fulfill the enormous media expectations he helped create, and also from what Lepselter generally described as a “slow progression of shit.”  Barber believed that he’d be the next Matt Lauer, even though he quickly realized that he lacked the skills required to interview people on camera.

“Once you sit down, you have to nail it,” Barber said.  “You have to connect with the subject.  That’s a skill set that I had never used or worked on.  I tried my best.  I really did.”

Told by Keteyian that some folks at NBC viewed Barber as “entitled” and “a little too cool for school,” Barber said, “I would be interested to hear someone say that to my face.”

Still, it didn’t work. And Tiki knows it.

“Once you try and fail, it’s hard to keep trying,” Barber said.  “It really is.  It got to the point where there were times where I would just sit in my office with nothing to do.  I crafted this career, right?  And I’d gotten to the point where I was right where I wanted to be, and then failed.  It’s hard to deal with.”

We recommend watching the entire interview, which debuts Tuesday, June 21, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.  The full piece is almost enough to make Tiki sympathetic.


43 responses to “Tiki Barber is on an “[expletive deleted] mission of redemption”

  1. People, in general, do not embrace arrogance. It’ll only take you so far in life, and the next thing you know, you’re talking, but no one is listening.

    You dug this hole, Tiki. Might as well lie down and take a nap in it.

  2. “The full piece is almost enough to make Tiki sympathetic.”

    Doubt if I see it that way.

  3. Mike, my sources tell me that Cher travels light with a minimum of baggage. Judging from the skimpy dresses the old gal wears, these sources may be more reliable than yours.

  4. If Tiki is looking for sympathy he better go out and buy a dictionary; because very few people will be supportive of a guy who has an affair with an intern and then deserts his pregnant wife. Plus he burned quite a few bridges when he left the Giants by making unsavory comments about her former team mates. What goes on in the locker room stays in the locker room. Funny how things turned out the Giants won the Superbowl while he was a sideline reporter. Poetic justice? Do you think Michael Strahan will let him borrow his Superbowl Ring?

  5. I have a sneaking suspicious Tiki’s campaign for popularity is being secretly funded by Lebron James.

  6. what makes a 30 something year old, beat up Tiki, better than a 22 year old undrafted free agent? not only is this guy delusional, he has trouble reading a teleprompter

  7. his time off & off the field issues & tv career combined might have changed his mentality and attitude as a player… he might be better, he never lacked physical tools.. he can still probably contribute, dont sleep!

    Tiki will get signed.

  8. You know you’re a real jerk, when your own agent refers to you as “slow progression of [expletive deleted].

  9. “I’m on a f–king mission of redemption,” Barber texted to his agent, Mark Lepselter.

    Was he hiding in Lepselter’s attic at the time?

  10. He gainEd more than 2000 yard in each of his last 3 years? Put him on the Broncos…..


  11. Tiki should let medical science study his “brain”. For one, I would love to know how identical twins could not BOTH have the “douche” gene if one has it.

  12. It’s just a desperate publicity stunt. He wants to be relevant again. This is his last shot to get his face in front of the cameras.

  13. “I would be interested to hear someone say that to my face”. Great answer, Tiki. Would you have challenged them to a fight after work? Meathead.

  14. I wonder how long “Uncle Tiki” will be able to live in Lepselter’s attic for free once the Tiki meal ticket is over and dried up and turned to dust………..

  15. The factor in Tiki’s crash in the media and entertainment industry that seems to be overlooked, is ugly. Ugly is not conducive to success. Don’t say, “well, how about radio, then?”, because it’s so bad it hurts your eardrums too.

  16. Others might say that Tiki’s “redemption” is a “mission of [expletive deleted]”.

  17. The guy’s a loser and a cancer. Any team that would even think about signing this chump is foolish.

  18. I’m surprised it wasn’t pointed out that he is broke. He lost his job with NBC (besides any performance issues, they weren’t too fond of him sleeping around with an NBC intern while his wife was pregnant) and doesn’t have enough money to pay the divorce settlement. It’s no wonder he’s looking for work in the NFL.

  19. “…on a f–king mission …”
    He’s on a f-king mission alright…to the f-king moon!

  20. I almost feel bad for the guy now…..but not quite. He was soooooo full of himself back then that I wanted to throw-up every time I saw him on TV using his big fancy words. He figured everybody MUST be impressed by me…. look at me….aren’t I great! My memory of him and his inflated self image keeps me from feeling sorry for him now.

    If he can actually make a successful come back as a 36 year old running back that has been out of the game for 4 years…. that is something I would really embrace and respect.

  21. I imagine that was Broncos fans that don’t want him. Also his last three years ago was a football lifetime ago.

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