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Tiki Barber is broke, but for different reasons than past athletes with financial problems

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Ok, let’s clear the air on this real quick. It's probably safe to say that Tiki Barber is an absolute crumb.Tiki Barber photo: www.nytimes.com

No I don’t know the man personally, but I do know that the former Giants running back started fooling around with a 23-year- old intern while his then-wife was pregnant with twins. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, but come on, how can you ever defend that?

Couple this with the fact that NBC terminated his $300,000 a year contract because he violated a morality clause and you’ve got yourself one broke athlete.

Barber wants to return to the NFL because playing football is what he does best. And now that he’s kissed his TV career goodbye, frankly, he has very few other options. Only problem is, Barber is now 36 years old. And considering the average age of running back “burnout” is 30-32 years of age, Barber might be lucky to even survive training camp.

Although I’m sure there are several athletes who have preceded Barber in returning to sports due to financial problems,there are probably more cases of athletes who needed to keep playing to more or less support themselves, and I surely can't think of a crazier scenario than Barber's. Ryne Sandberg announced he was getting divorced a week after his first retirement. (There have been rumors for years about what precipitated that divorce.)  Sandberg returned to baseball in 1996 after the smoke cleared and the dust settled. Although Sandberg cites the reason for returning was for his love of the game, you have to wonder. That divorce was pretty messy.

Everybody laughed at former Phillie Steve Carlton for continuing to play until he was 44 years of age and lost command of his slider. I can remember looking at his 1987 Topps baseball card as a nine-year-old, and wondering WHY lefty was pitching for the White Sox?

Here's probably why: A reliable source had told me years ago that Carlton was swindled by some financial hoodlums.

Then there’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who retired at 42 years of age after a myriad of financial problems, including a house fire which destroyed his Bel-Air home, and an agent who put his money “in all the wrong places.”

With the exception of athletes like Jamie Moyer, do you really think these guys hang on for so long after their skills have diminished because they want to?  Some, but probably not most of them.

As far as their personal lives go, Sandberg has since remarried and Carlton has divorced since his retirement. As for as Abdul-Jabbar, he reportedly has a great relationship with the mother of his son who he lived with for almost a decade. In fact, she allegedly warned him about his former agent. 

So yes, Tiki Barber is probably an exception. Maybe there have been other athletes who have made a comeback for similar reasons, but it's highly unlikely. Whether it's their own doing or not, these guys have often shown that being in the limelight can be an expense in itself.  But sometimes you dig your own grave with your actions, and there might not be a better example than Tiki Barber.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Tiki Barber Photo: www.nytimes.com

Carlton photo: collectivetroll.blogspot.com/2010/09/topps-mi...