It is safe to say that Tiki Barber is not the most popular New York Giant. In fact, many fans and probably some within the organization would prefer that Barber not be identified with the Giants in any way. Truth be told, Barber will forever be linked to Big Blue. He spent 10 years as a member of the Giants - the only team he would play for in his career - and finished with 15,632 yards from scrimmage and 68 total touchdowns. He is the Giants' all-time leading rusher with 10,449 yards.
Barber retired following the 2006 season, one year before the Giants improbable Super Bowl win over New England. With his TV career not living up to expectations, Barber is making an attempt at returning to the NFL this season. In an interview with ESPN, Barber talked about how close he was to returning during the 2007 season. The plan was for him to join his brother, Ronde, in Tampa Bay. Though he reportedly agreed on a deal to join the Bucs, ultimately, Barber decided to stay retired, and he claims now that his decision was based on a desire to remain a Giant, even in retirement.
"Staying a Giant in retirement was very important to me," Barber told ESPN's Ian O'Connor. "Playing with my brother is something we dreamed of doing for years, but I'd been brought up and nurtured in one organization. I saw it as a sacred thing."
If Barber had joined Tampa Bay, he would have ended up playing the Giants in the playoffs that year. The Giants beat the Buccaneers, 24-14, in a wild card game.
"It was a weird feeling watching that game," Barber said, "because I was kind of rooting against my brother. I was rooting for the Giants."
New York would go on to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, a game Barber says the Giants would not have won if he was a still on the team.
"It was a surreal experience to be a part of that as a journalist," Barber said about covering the Giants in the Super Bowl. "But if I was on that Giants team, we don't win the Super Bowl that year because the offense revolved around me. Eli needed to be the leader of the offense."
Reflecting back on his decision to stay retired, Barber says it was based on his loyalty to Big Blue.
"I didn't want to ruin my Giants legacy."
What's your reaction, Giant fans?