Moments after throwing up General Tso's chicken while viewing
Maryland's new uniforms, I was laughing pretty heartily, thanks
to reading that Tiki Barber's agent was "flabbergasted" that no
NFL team signed the former NY Giants running back for the
Flabbergasted? Mark Lepsetler, Tiki's agent, might be trained in
law but he doesn't have an ounce of common sense when it comes
to NFL employment. However, he is just a mouthpiece for Tiki
so we won't come down too hard on Lepsetler because "flabbergasted"
is more a Tiki word, than his own.
First of all, Tiki is 36 years old, which is an age when NFL players
get treated like Jerry Lewis in telethons. No matter how talented
you were and all the great things you accomplished, players that
age, particularly running backs, are considered used goods. If he
was a horse, Tiki would be sent away and turned into glue. Corey
Dillon and Emmitt Smith lost more than a step and were running
on fumes at the age of 32, and no longer effective or helpful to
any team. They were all but sent out to pasture, never to be
heard from again. (I know, we listened to Smith try hard to be
coherent on ESPN and he wasn't very good at it.)
Second of all, Tiki has been retired for five years. Athletes don't
get bigger, stronger, and faster sitting out that long, they get smaller,
weaker, and slower. The average player's lifespan in the NFL is
three years, to try to come back after sitting out for half-a-decade
is utterly ridiculous.
Those are the pretty obvious things. Now for the hard truths about Tiki
and why no NFL team wanted him.
TIKI IS A SELL-OUT. After he retired and started working for
NBC, Tiki threw his former teammate, Eli Manning, and head coach,
Tom Coughlin, under the bus. Then he backed up and rolled over them
again. He mocked Manning for his leadership skills and said that
the Giants would never win anything with him playing Quarterback.
The year after he quit on the Giants, Tiki was on the sidelines covering
the Super Bowl when Big Blue upset the Patriots. Manning tossed
the game-winning pass and garnered MVP honors. The Giants QB
also got a ring, while Tiki was served a nice dish of humble pie.
The sports world hadn't seen a sell-out like Tiki since Brad Steinke
of Fox Sports Arizona put on a microphone.
TIKI FAILED THE PR GAME MISERABLY.
In short, here are a few of the things that made Tiki all but untouchable
to NFL coaches and GM's.
*A self-proclaimed family man, Tiki left his pregnant wife for a
21-year old production assistant at NBC. NBC eventually dumped
Tiki. NFL teams might take a chance on that type of drama, but not
for a guy who has been out of the game for five years.
*He made a comparison to Anne Frank and holocaust victims, saying
he had to hide out in his Jewish agent's house because people
were after him. Good grief.
*Tiki then decided to be interviewed by WFAN's grand pooh-bah,
Mike Francessa, but only on the condition that his agent be allowed
to be on the line in case things got dicey. Has any player, former
or current, ever brought along his agent to protect him? What a disaster.
Francessa ate him up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
*Tiki went on HBO's "Real Sports" and stated he had depression
and needed football to make him whole again. If you're out of work,
admitting that you are depressed is not something any employer, much
less an NFL team, will look past and take a chance on.
Everything Tiki did turned into an unmitigated disaster. Besides being
too old and a step slower, the real colors of Tiki were exposed and
they were worse than the ones on Maryland's uniforms. In fact,
those uniforms represent what Tiki's life has become. A mess and
all over the place.
It would be easy to have sympathy for Tiki if he was a more likable
guy. But Tiki brought this all on himself. Selling his teammates out,
leaving his pregnant wife for a much younger woman, and comparing
himself to holocaust victims, is just not attractive to the common man,
much less NFL coaches and general managers. I sure hope Tiki doesn't
end up like Mike Flanagan, Hidecki Irabu, and the other athletes who
had a tough time dealing with reality.