Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TIKI BARBER AND HIS A.D.D.

Tiki Barber has a serious case of ADD. That's right, Attention
Deficit Disorder. But when it comes to Tiki, it means something
entirely different than not being able to focus on certain things.

Tiki has a problem when he doesn't get enough attention. Attention
is like a drug to Tiki, and like a lot of athletes and entertainers
he's addicted to it. But when the cheering stops, and they're not at
the center of the universe anymore, they have a hard time coping.

Tiki is having a hard time coping.

Why else would he announce that he is returning to the NFL,
or trying to anyway? The former star of the New York Giants
is 36 years old, which is considered to be like a fossil when
it comes to running backs. Most start to go in decline when they
hit 30. See Emmit Smith, Terrell Davis, and Corey Dillon.

He hasn't played in four years, and you don't gain a step
with the time off, you usually lose it. No athlete gets
better when they hit 36, if they're not on PED's, they always
regress. Nobody beats Father Time, and Tiki's trying
to get back into a race he has no chance of winning.

This is all about Tiki's desire for attention. He craves it
like we crave Facebook, iPhones, and Blackberries. He's
thrived on it ever since putting his pads on in Pop Warner.
Once he had it, Tiki demanded more of it. In high school,
at UVA, and in the NFL, attention was his fuel. And when
he wanted it, he always got it.

But Tiki is no longer the star. He's been deprived of attention
and he needs his fix. Tiki thought television could satisfy
his desire, but television no longer desired him. NBC dumped
him after just two forgettable years analyzing the game
he excelled at, failing to live up to his promise.

Without football and television, his life and image, which
was marketed into a neat little package, began to unravel.
He was shown in an unflattering light, pictured in the New
York papers with a younger woman, after dumping his
pregnant wife.

Tiki's carefully constructed image has taken a Ray Lewis-like
hit. He's gone from the limelight to the darkness, and he's having
a tough time finding his way.

But it was that way, Tiki's way, that got him to this point.
He called it quits in 2005, walking away while still at
the top of his game. He said he was bored with the NFL. He
was going to make a seamless transition to television and be
the next Matt Lauer. But a funny happened, it didn't.

When Tiki became a member of the media, he once again
craved the attention and had to be the story. He dissed him former
coach, Tom Coughlin, and mocked Eli  Manning. He made fun
of the leadership skills of the Giants QB and said the team would never
win a title as long as he was there. But as soon as Tiki wasn't,
they did.

The Giants bonded, gelled, and became a TEAM. Tom
Coughlin's system wasn't built on stars, but rather those
who put the team ahead of themselves. Without Tiki,
the Giants had a singular focus, not just a single star.
They went on a memorable run, beating the undefeated 
Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

Tiki wasn't a part of it, just as he isn't a part of anything
now. He's back for one last try, hoping to satisfy his fix for
attention. But it's time to move on Tiki. Football has
moved on without you, it's time for you to move on, too.

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