Former Giants running back Tiki Barber revealed the emotional factors driving his attempt to return to the NFL on Tuesday night’s episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. He also talked about his failed stint on NBC, and the intern girlfriend that led to his exit from broadcasting. Fun!
“The game never needs you, because there’s always someone else to come take your place. But right now, I need the game,” Barber explained to interviewer Armen Kateyian. Much of that need, the three-time Pro Bowler explained, derived from his failure in the broadcasting career he started preparing for while still competing (wait, what?):
Barber also defended his relationship with an NBC intern (which became public while his wife was pregnant) saying he “didn’t think it would destroy my career” and “the facts don’t matter.” Things were just fine until that ruiner of lives and careers, the New York Post, had to come along.
The failure of his marriage and TV career drove Barber to depression, a state he says he remained in for more than a year. Reuniting with friends at February’s Super Bowl in Dallas inspired his attempt to return, Barber explains, sparking a brutal workout regimen and radical lifestyle changes. Those changes, however, won’t erase the messy divorce he’s currently mired in or the reputation irreparably damaged (to some degree) by the New York tabloid press in the wake of his infidelity and criticism of former Giants teammates. It’s in this shadow Barber aims to execute a “mission of redemption,” in the words of his agent Mark Lepselter (NSFW, beware Mark Lepselter’s pottymouth):
The Barber interview will feature in encore airings of Real Sports throughout the week.