Yesterday former New York Giant running back Tiki Barber, who officially retired after the 2006 season, filed papers with the league office to declare his intentions to un-retire and make a return to the NFL in 2011.
Questions abound after the news broke — At 36 years old can his body take the abuse?, What kind of shape is he in after being out of the league for four years?, Will he accept a backup role without hesitation?, Is there a team out there willing to give him shot? — but only Barber knows the answers at this point.
It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that he will be able to make a successful comeback. Barber was an ultra-productive running back during his ten years in the league and his 1,662 yards rushing in 2006 is still an NFL record for running back production in a final season.
Truly though, what team will be willing to sign him or needs a running back bad enough to take a 36 year old that hasn’t played in as long as Barber? There are several teams that have been brought up as potential landing spots for him after he is released from the Giants, and the Saints happened to be said as one of those teams.
That however seems highly unlikely given that New Orleans just re-signed Pierre Thomas to a four-year deal, will be returning Chris Ivory among others, and have plans to retain Reggie Bush on a restructured contract. Then again anything is possible.
Barber will have to prove he is in “football shape” by holding a workout for teams to be able get a look at what he still has left to offer. Also he will have to be ready to accept a minimal contract at best and play special teams, which is what backups do and is something he has never done.
It’s an interesting story for sure and if it all works out for him then his every move next season is likely be under the microscope as they ask, can a 36-year old running back really make a comeback? Maybe the Saints should kick the tires on Deuce McAllister and bring him out of retirement if Barber does indeed succeed.