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Tiki Barber Wants to Get Back Into the Football Business

Retirement hasn't agreed with the former Giants running back

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    It's going to be a busy offseason for disgraced former members of the New York Giants.

    We've been looking forward to Plaxico Burress's June release from prison for quite some time, but he won't be alone among those looking for another shot at NFL glory.

    Via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, Tiki Barber's agent announced that his client has filed papers to end his retirement from professional football. Barber himself explained his motivation to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.

    "After seeing my brother (Buccaneers cornerback Ronde) still have fun at our age, it reignited the fire. I'm really looking forward to the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the level  of where I was," Barber, who turns 36 in April, said. "I started working out again recently. It kind of shocked myself. I still had a lot of the strength I had before. I'm really looking forward to making a return."

    Barber's agent also told Glazer that teams are interested in Barber's services, although he first needs to clear up his contract status with the Giants. Because Barber retired with time left on his contract, the Giants control his rights.

    Thanks to Barber's unyielding scorched-Earth campaign against Tom Coughlin, to say nothing of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, there's no chance he'll be back with the team. 

    Even at Barber's age, there will be someone willing to kick the tires because there are always people willing to kick the tires.

    The track record of running backs his age is awful -- Marcus Allen and John Riggins are the only ones to rush for 500 or more yards -- but his four years on the sideline should mean he's a little less beaten up than your usual mid-30's rusher. 

    Physically, anyway. Barber's plenty beaten up in every other respect after suffering cascading public humiliations since leaving the NFL.

    When Barber retired, he was near the top of the game, but people thought he was making a defensible move because he seemed like a natural for big success as a broadcaster. He wound up lasting a year as a member of the studio crew on Sunday Night Football and bounced around NBC in minor roles until his contract was up. 

    That flop was child's play compared to the meltdown of his marriage in the wake of his affair with a 23-year-old that shattered the family man image he worked to build during and after his time with the Giants.

    The very public collapse of that image last year crushed any hope Barber had of rebuilding his stalled television career and he took another blow when the Post reported later in 2010 that he's broke.

    If true, that had to help make his decision to pursue a return to the gridiron an easy one. Even if it isn't, his dwindling other options help make this feel like a burning desire to compete than a calculating attempt to vault himself back into the good graces of an adoring public.

    It's a long shot and one that makes you realize why most athletes empty the tank before abandoning the game.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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