Tiki Barber retired after the Giants were eliminated from the 2006 Playoffs as the team’s all-time rushing and receiving leader. I remember watching that game and being furious that that effort was the last game Tiki was going to be a part of. He deserved better than to be outscored 17-3 in a second quarter that saw the team squander numerous opportunities. He deserved more than a Wild Card Round exit. What made it even worse was it was a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Regardless, Tiki walked off the field; head held high, his status in Giants lore forever etched.
As it turns out, it wasn’t etched in stone, or marker, or even pen. It was etched in pencil and has already been erased from majority of Giants fans’ minds. His post Giants career seemed like it was going to be just as stellar as his playing days- a bidding war erupted, and the Today Show landed his services. Soon after he published his first book, and soon after Tiki erased his Giants legacy. Calling Eli Manning’s motivational speeches “almost comical”, the fans quickly took sides, and they were firmly in the quarterback’s camp. Now instead of remembering Tiki’s 2,390 yards during the 2005 season, or his 234 yards in 2006 against the Redskins, fans remembered his feud with Michael Strahan, his public criticism of Tom Coughlin, and most of all his public dismissal of his quarterback’s leadership.
At every subsequent Giants home game I’ve been to, and I go to as many games a year as I can, Barber has been fervently booed during video montages and countdowns. Despite the vitriol from the New York fan base, Tiki’s career and personal life were still doing great. That is, until recently.
On April 5th, 2010, he separated from his wife of 11 years. In addition to two young children, the soon to be former Mrs. Barber was pregnant with twins. Reports surfaced they had split up over Tiki’s affair with a NBC intern. Soon after, in May 2010, without ceremony or announcement, NBC released Tiki from his contract. The once-fought over television personality was now without a home on the little screen.
Now comes a new million dollar lawsuit from Tiki’s partners in a cycling studio, alleging that the clientele now have a negative viewpoint of him.
Given what we learn each and every passing year about head trauma among NFL players, no one can fault Mr. Barber for getting out before he suffered a serious injury. But nobody thought he’s do cause damage after he walked away from the game.