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Barber's Un-Retirement Proves Unspectacular. Next Step: UFL?

The Tampa Tribune is reporting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have little interest in acquiring Ronde Barber's twin brother, Tiki Barber. Having just recently announced his desire to return to the NFL, Tiki has had a bit of difficulty convincing teams to overlook his 3-year absence from football.

One potential landing spot may be with his former head coach, Jim Fassell, in the United Football League. Fassell has expressed a desire to bring Barber into the UFL, which -- by the way -- has no collective bargaining problems (and is thus guaranteed at least 2011 season).

Though the suggestion may seem silly, the UFL does indeed offer Tiki Barber a legitimate chance to return to the NFL. Each year, the UFL grooms a crop of both young and veteran talent for back up roles in the NFL. Consider the case of Dominic Rhodes, who stormed the UFL in 2010, leading the now-defunct Florida Tuskers running game. As the NFL season wore on, the Indianapolis Colts found themselves in need of healthy backs, and Rhodes (who had previously played for them) had plenty of film showing healthy cuts and speedy dashes. So, despite missing the 2009 season, Rhodes found himself with 48 rushing yards in a playoff game in 2011.

Rhodes story is unique, but not crazy. The UFL is keeping track of players who have made it into the NFL after some hours logged in the UFL's de facto minors, and the list is not insignificant in size.

In a sport where film can be the currency of contracts, the UFL is essentially giving away money. The impending NFL lockout may also mean a large number of high profile players take their services to the UFL, which could either help or hurt Barber's chances of a UFL-based comeback, but either way: The UFL may be his next step.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.