Any football fans who had Tiki Barber and Saquon Barkley involved in the latest semi-sports media beef can collect their prize at the podium.
Anyone who has paid attention to the relationship between Barber, a former Giants star running back, and Barkley, the team’s current lead back, knows how much it has ebbed and flowed.
Before Barber was a talking head who never went quiet, he was the player the New York Giants still hope Barkley will become.
Tiki Barber played 10 NFL seasons
Although the New York Giants long had a reputation for quarterbacks and defenses by the late 1990s, it had been some time since an elite running back took carries in the backfield.
Enter Tiki Barber, the 39th overall pick of the 1997 NFL draft and a star at Virginia. Barber didn’t play much in his first three seasons, totaling 935 yards and three touchdowns on 3.7 yards per carry in 44 games, starting 11. He also caught 142 passes for 1,256 yards and seven touchdowns in that span.
Barber got his chance in 2000, running for 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games for a Giants team that made the Super Bowl. Also catching 70 passes for 719 yards and a touchdown, Barber revived his career with that breakout campaign.
Although Barber’s numbers dipped to 865 yards in 2001, that was the last time he had under 1,000 rushing yards.
Barber cashed in during his playing days
From 2002-2006, Tiki Barber averaged 1,527 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry.
Barber made the Pro Bowl in each of his final three seasons and earned All-Pro honors in 2005, when he ran for 1,860 yards and nine touchdowns.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin force-fed Barber the ball, giving him over 320 carries in each of the Pro Bowl years.
Barber retired after the 2006 season to pursue a broadcasting career. According to Spotrac, Barber made over $25 million in his career.
Barber has stayed busy in retirement
Tiki Barber immediately joined NBC after retiring, both in the sports department and on The Today Show.
Barber served as an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America, the pregame show for Sunday Night Football. While a correspondent for Today, Barber did everything from sports to lifestyle commentary.
Barber remained with NBC through 2010. He later joined CBS Sports Radio and currently hosts Tiki & Tierney with Brandon Tierney.
Tiki Barber vs. Saquon Barkley has both trending
Tiki Barber has praised Giants star running back Saquon Barkley in the past.
Now, though, the two are involved in a bit of a beef. Barber said on CBS Sports Radio that Barkley “might not be an every down back” after the latter’s mediocre Week 1 outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Barkley finished with six rushing yards on 15 carries. Although he had six receptions for 60 yards and showed his athleticism on those plays, he struggled in pass protection.
Barkley, in response, told reporters he didn’t take Barber’s comments as “disrespect.”
“I’m going to look at it as a challenge,” Barkley said.
Barber later clarified his comments on Barkley, a Pro Bowl running back. Barber added his comments came from his own experiences struggling with ball control and blocking.
“I’ve been asked if I’m going to reach out to Saquon (to help him work on his blocking). No, I’m not his coach. … You need your coach to help you do that. It would be wrong for me to try and help Saquon fix this. It’s his coach’s job to fix it just like it was Gerald Ingram’s job to fix my fumbling issue.”
Barkley and the Giants have a chance to prove Barber wrong in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.