Sometimes, stories just come out of nowhere. Tuesday’s news that Tiki Barber has already filed the necessary papers with the NFL to come out of retirement certainly fits that bill.
We last saw Barber in 2006, he rushed for 1,662 yards and added 465 yards on 58 receptions. He was 30 years old then. Looking beyond who could be interested in Barber for a moment, we’re talking about a player who will be 36 next season and will have gone five years since his last game at a position that’s stone cold unkind to older players.
Anyone can see those are not good odds. Would there even be any interest? There’s serious doubt there, which is shared by NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger.
“I can’t see anyone in the NFL extending him an offer considering the layoff and his age,” said Baldinger. “What running back gets better — or even stays the same — after being out of football for five years, much less being out from age 30 to 36? Who could possibly expect to maintain any level of play or consistency that he once had? I don’t know why anyone would give him a chance.”
The Giants wasted no time in letting us know they will release Barber whenever the new collective bargaining agreement is reached. No surprise there, given Tom Coughlin still has a job.
Consider that Brian Westbrook, who was solid in limited work in San Fransisco last season and hasn’t had a layoff, will be looking for work. He’s 31. Then there’s a considerable list of younger backs — Clinton Portis (29), Cedric Benson (28), Willis McGahee (29), Mike Bell (27), Julius Jones (29) and Ronnie Brown (29) among them — who will be standing in the same line under the “will run for jobs” sign.
A few moments pondering Barber playing with twin brother Ronde on a Bucs team in the midst of a youth movement ends with beat man Ira Kaufman saying, “Don’t hold your breath.”
He can call it a comeback, but Barber might be finding offers few and far between.