Tiki's Pro Bowl a Career-Ender
Tuesday, February 6, 2007; 5:52 PM
HONOLULU -- Tiki Barber will end his football career much like it began when he was 8 years old _ with a wide grin and as teammates with his twin brother.
The Pro Bowl on Saturday will be the final game for Barber, who is retiring after 10 seasons with the New York Giants. His brother Ronde, from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a cornerback on the NFC team.
"It's like a family vacation paid for by the NFL," said Barber, who goes out as the NFL's 17th leading rusher with 10,449 yards.
Wearing a floral lei and looking out at the Waikiki skyline, Tiki Barber said he has no second thoughts about his decision to retire.
"It's exciting, really, because I had a great career and it ended on my terms," he said. "I wasn't carried off the field on a stretcher. I didn't sustain a major injury that prevented me from doing what I love to do. Now I get to do something else."
His only regret is not being able to win a Super Bowl. He played in the game in 2001 when the Giants were beaten by the Baltimore Ravens.
"My fear, which ultimately came true, is I wouldn't get a chance to try again," he said. "That's the NFL and the unpredictable nature of team sports. There's been a lot of greats that never got a chance to even play."
The 31-year-old halfback said he still has some game left in him. He proved it this past season by running for 1,662 yards, his fifth straight 1,000-yard season and the second-highest total of his career.
Barber rushed for 371 yards in the final two games alone, including a team-record 234 yards in a win over Washington that earned the Giants a playoff berth.
"I like the saying, 'Always leave them wanting more. Leave too early rather than too late,'" he said.
This past season, Barber joined Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen as the only NFL players with 10,000 yards rushing and 5,000 yards receiving. And the weekly punishment on his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame has taken its toll.
He specifically remembers the second game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles, who later defeated the Giants in the playoffs on a last-second field goal.