The New York Giants preseason opener in Canton, Ohio is exactly three weeks away… and training camp begins in 9 days on Tuesday July 22nd.
On day 21 of the countdown, we remember the prolific #21 of Tiki Barber. A one-trick pony at the University of Virginia — with 85% of his yards from scrimmage coming on the ground — Barber developed into one of the most dynamic two-way running backs in NFL history. He currently ranks 12th all-time with 15,632 YScm.
Looking at Barber through a Giants historical lens… he’s simply the King:
- 3,552 yards ahead of Rodney Hampton on the all-time rushing yards list
- 4 of the top 10 single-season rushing efforts in team history
- 2nd on the touchdown list (55) behind only Brandon Jacobs (60)
- ranks 2nd all-time in receptions (586) as a RB, 82 behind Amani Toomer
- 3rd in receiving yards with 5,183, trailing Frank Gifford and Toomer
- 5th on the dreaded fumble rankings with 53 cough ups
Barber has become an increasingly polarizing Giant figure since his retirement in 2006, however, publicly criticizing the coaching style of Tom Coughlin and the leadership of Eli Manning. He’s since been muzzled and even proclaimed Eli superior to Peyton:
“The expectation was that he was never going to be Peyton. I remember having these conversations with people who watched Eli in college, saying, ‘He’s good, but he’s never going to be Peyton, he’s not Peyton.’ Guess what? I think he’s better than Peyton.
Other 21’s from yesteryear include 1990 Pro Bowler Reyna Thompson, who’s special teams prowess Bill Parcells coveted from 1990-1992: ”Reyna is the best special-teams player we’ve had here.” Thompson also played a serviceable corner when injury struck, returning an interception for a 69-yard score versus Green Bay in ’92.
Strong safety Kenny Phillips was blessed with natural talent, but chronic knee problems disrupted and ultimately cut short a promising NFL career. Phillips started 15 games during the Giants 2011-2012 Super Bowl, picking off four passes and accumulating a career-high 63 solo tackles. He notched two passes defensed in the Big Game. Unfortunately, Phillips is now out of football at age 27.
In 2014, number 21 will be donned by free agent addition Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Giants signed the shutdown corner to a 5-year $39 million deal ($14 mill guaranteed) in mid-March, and Big Blue Nation rightfully believes that ‘the sky is the limit’ for their new RCB. Rodgers-Cromartie has the size, fluid athleticism and ball skills to become the next great Giants corner… now all he’s gotta do is produce.
Is it football season yet?