Too soon for Barber to cut career short

first_imgThe leading rusher in the National Football League is “leaning toward” retirement and he has “pretty much” made up his mind. All-pro running back Tiki Barber has been hinting at calling it quits for years now — but apparently this time he means business. The Giants’ all-time leading rusher has never just been about football; in fact Barber has always taken pride in being much more than just a football player. He already hosts a segment of the Fox’s Tuesday morning news, and Barber co-authored a children’s book with his twin brother Ronde.All that’s fine and dandy, and there is nothing wrong with broadening your horizons, but Tiki Barber is a damn good football player and with a few more quality years he can solidify himself as a bona fide hall of famer. According to Barber’s agent, he feels he has perfected his craft and does not need a Super Bowl ring to etch himself alongside the NFL’s all time best running backs. Barber has never been about personal accolades nor does he care for what his few critics have to say, but if Barber prematurely walks away from the game he will be making the biggest mistake of his career.The 31-year-old Barber is in his 10th season with the Giants, and he was named to the Pro Bowl each of the last two years.Last season Barber rushed for a career-high 1,860 yards and caught 54 passes for 530 yards for the second-highest single-season yards total in league history. Also, his 8,870 yards from scrimmage is the most in the NFL since 2002.For the last six seasons Barber has been the heart and soul of the New York football Giants, and without him the Giants would have never won the NFC championship in 2001 nor would they have had playoff appearances in 2002 and 2005 — but Tiki Barber still has a lot to prove. Barber has never been named the league’s MVP, and in six postseason games Barber has amassed only 338 rushing yards and one touchdown, including a dismal 49-yard rushing performance against the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. Last season Barber’s G-Men put up a goose egg against Panthers in the opening round of the playoffs, and instead of holding himself accountable for his 69 total yards, Barber shifted attention to the coaching staff.I’m not trying to start a “he can’t get it done in the big spot” A-rod controversy, but if Tiki thinks he has had a complete career to this point then he is severely misguided.In today’s sporting world it is no secret you are defined by the rings on your fingers not by the stats you have accumulated. Tiki is one of the greatest backs in the game today but he is not Jim Brown or Barry Sanders, and without a Super Bowl ring his impressive career numbers will be forgotten by all, except for the current era of NFL fans who are privileged enough to watch him play.Being the best running back in Giants’ history is a nice feat for someone who has only been the every down back for six seasons — but Tiki deserves to be remembered as more than just the best player at his position in team history.Tiki has been defying the odds since the undersized back broke into the league with his 200-pound frame. Tiki refused to be regulated to a third down back and kickoff returner and earned the respect of then head coach Jim Fassel to become the team’s go-to player, in and out the backfield. Tiki is on pace to have his fifth straight year with more than 1,200 rushing yards and his seventh 1,000-yard season. Tiki has finally been getting the respect he deserves over the past few seasons, and to walk away after this season would be throwing away the opportunity to leave his mark on the National Football League.Maybe Tiki doesn’t want to be in the spotlight and maybe he would be rather be forgotten than remembered, but to leave now would be depriving future generations the chance to learn about one of the most hard-working and talented players in today’s game. Plain and simple, Tiki needs to pull his head out of his confused rear end and recapture the competitive drive that got him this far. Barber is the king of New York, playing on a young, talented team with a bright future. Why say only one more year when the Giants look primed to make a run at the Vince Lombardi trophy in the near future? With the development of Eli Manning occurring faster than anticipated and talented weapons at all the skill positions, Barber could be the face of the NFL within a few years.Tiki is only 31 years old and despite the short life of tail backs in the NFL, Barber has gotten better with age. Tiki has increased his production each of the last three seasons, and he has shown no signs of age or fatigue catching up with him in the early going of 2006. If Barber were to walk away with two years on his contract he would be leaving $8.3 million on the table to pursue an extremely less lucrative job in television or book writing. What Barber seems to overlook is that those opportunities will always be available to him because of his talent and notoriety, but his window as an NFL running back is getting smaller by the day. What is most shocking about Barber’s retirement news is the way Tiki made his plans public. Barber wouldn’t commit to saying his retirement was 100 percent, but he did say nothing would change his mind. In any event, what does Barber gain from announcing his retirement before he is 100 percent sure that he is walking away?The Giants have a team loaded with hotheads such as Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey who account for enough distractions throughout the course of the year. Barber’s retirement plans are simply an unnecessary distraction to the Giants, and the news has only added to the already daunting pressure on the players and coaches who will be looking to win a Super Bowl before their most prolific offensive player moves into the broadcast booth. Tonight the Giants will square off against the Dallas Cowboys in a pivotal division match-up, with the whole country looking on. Hopefully, for Tiki’s sake, somewhere in the middle of a patented game-breaking run he will snap out of it and realize exactly what he plans on throwing away.Andrew is a junior majoring in journalism. To share your thoughts on Tiki Barber, e-mail him at [email protected]last_img read more