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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Really Tiki?

So as a lot of people have heard by now, Tiki Barber has filed papers to come out of retirement. This idea has been met by universal criticism from analysts, because it seems like there is very little interest for a 35 year-old running back who hasn't played since 2006. While 35 (about to be 36) is a pretty old age for any position other than kicker or punter in the NFL, for a running back it's essentially ancient. LaDainian Tomlinson, a future hall-of-famer and one of the best running backs of our generation is "only" 31, but its obvious he doesn't have that much left in the tank. Curtis Martin, considered to be one of the longer lasting running backs, still only played until his was 32. It certainly seems like all the cards are stacked against Tiki Barber.

So why in the world would Tiki Barber want to return to football? He left the game in his prime, with his best two seasons being his last two. He also retired the year before the Giants won the Super Bowl, leaving him ringless for his career. It certainly seems that he did make a mistake in retiring, but rectifying it 4 years later is likely to end horribly.

It seems that the reason why Tiki is coming back is about money. There are reports that Tiki is very low on cash, but how can that be for a player who left $8.3 million on his remaining two year contract when he retired? Barber represents how quickly NFL players can lose all their money. Today's NFL culture is all about expensive cars, clothes, and women, and never-ending parties and players making 7 and 8 figures a year are spending the money as quickly as they are making it. When the checks end and the spending doesn't, we get people like Barber and Michael Vick, who was the first player to sign a $100-million contract, in debt.

It's no wonder the NFLPA is at a tremendous disadvantage in the CBA negotations, they have absolutely no leverage. A year out of work for NFL players will wipe out many of their bank accounts. It's time for these players to grow up and learn some kind of financial responsibility, because there is no excuse for someone who made millions in a matter of years to be broke. It might be time that the NFL consider a system of deferred payments, considering the players cannot handle all that money up front. It may mean less Bentleys today, but a comfortable retirement in the future.

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