Things like this are what make sports so much fun to follow. Like anyone who went to work or to school (or stumbled down to mom's basement for a grueling day of blogging) this morning was thinking to themselves, "Hey, what if Tiki Barber decided to come back to the NFL today?"
Things like this are what make sports so much fun to follow on Twitter, too. As soon as the news filtered out, my timeline exploded. A few highlights:
GAlexander21 -- Cmon Tiki! Cmon! For real! Cmon Tiki! Cmon! Cmon! For real man! Cmon Tiki! Tiki! For real! Seriously! Cmon Tiki! Really???!!!??
edsbs -- Hey, Tiki Barber's coming back. #childsupport
The immediate reaction was running about 95% against Barber coming back. But I wondered, how much of this had to do with the way he acted off the field, and right after he retired, and in his personal life, and during his stint as a broadcaster? Most of it? Nearly all of it?
If Tiki Barber had just faded away and lived a private life after his retirement following the 2006 season, and then decided to come back to the NFL today, I think we'd have a much different opinion. Tiki ran for over 3500 yards in his last two seasons with the Giants, and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in both 2004 and 2005 (when he was a first-team All-Pro). He didn't leave because he couldn't do it anymore. He left because he wouldn't do it anymore -- at least not for Tom Coughlin. Petulant, sure, but it meant that Tiki didn't retire as a broken-down shell of a runner like so many former players do.
Yes, Tiki will be 36 years old if the 2011 season starts. At his age there's no way he runs for 1800 yards again, or likely even 1000 yards. But he didn't put very many miles on the odometer early in his career; he may well have something left. Maybe he has an ulterior motive for returning, but if he can still play... why not?
Which brings up the question: With all the burned bridges behind Tiki Barber, who would want to sign him? Well... let's see...
Could Tiki join Ronde as a teammate for the first time since they were in college
It’s at least something to ponder. Although the Bucs generally are following a youth movement, Ronde has plenty of clout with coach Raheem Morris and might be able to encourage the Bucs to sign his brother...
Tampa Bay found a feature back in LeGarrette Blount last season, and the Bucs are hoping to keep Cadillac Williams as a third-down back. But the Bucs could use a backup to keep Blount from being overused.
Adam Schefter -- Tiki and Ronde Barber always wanted to play together at the NFL level. Ronde signed last month for one more year in Tampa. #justsayin
Maybe I'm still riding a high from the USF game tonight, but this doesn't sound like the worst idea in the world, especially if Cadillac Williams gets a better offer or a bigger role with another team. You would need a third-down back, and if Tiki can still play his skills fit that role very well. And Tampa would be one of the few places where I think he would have a chance to fit into the locker room. Obviously Ronde would help, but it would also help that Tiki held his tongue about the Bucs as a broadcaster -- maybe because of his twin brother, but also because there wasn't much worth ripping into them about the last few years. Seems like a possible low-risk, high-reward, short-term investment. What's the problem with that?
P.S. Can you imagine how much abuse Jon Gruden would be taking if he was still coaching the Bucs and a Tiki Barber rumor started up? WHY DOES HE LOVE ALL THESE WASHED UP OLD GUYS WITH NO CHARACTER BLAH BLAH BLAH SOAPBOX SOAPBOX SOAPBOX I'll hang up and listen.