2007-01-12 / Sports

Giants' Chapter Closes On Tiki Barber Era

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Now it's done.

fter 10 years in the NFL, Tiki Barber cleaned out his locker for the last time on Monday with no regrets and content moving on his life.

"There's not a lot of sadness," he said to the many reporters surrounding him. "I'm happy that I had the run that I had. I'm thankful for it and I take a lot of pride in what I accomplished as a New York Giant. My life will go on and Giant life will go on. It's not the end of the world, by any stretch of the imagination. I'll be missed here and I'll miss the guys here."

And any thoughts of a Michael Jordan-like comeback were not on his mind.

"Basketball is different than football," Barber answered when someone suggested the thought of a comeback. "You guys know that well. It's a year long thing now. It's not just something you can turn on and off. It's preparation as far as physical and mentally getting yourself ready. At 32 and at that point I won't have that desire at all."

After 154 NFL games, Barber amassed 10,449 rushing yards with another 5,183 yards receiving. On top of that, he has 67 total touchdowns to his credit. Most of this came since 2000, when the little back took over the full time duties for the New York Giants.

Those numbers may be borderline for the Hall of Fame but that doesn't matter to the 31 year-old future TV announcer, he has left it all on the field.

Said Barber: "I have no regrets for making the decision or how it came out. It happened. You don't write things and script them. It just happened. This decision has been in my head for years now. I'm excited about it, I really am. I'm not going to regret not being a football player anymore."

Maybe because he has so many memories already. Like in 2001 when the Giants blew out the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 in the NFC Championship game, which propelled the G-Men to the Super Bowl.

"Absolutely, it was [the greatest]," he said. "There were a lot of great games over the years. It's too complex to put my finger on which one will be the most memorable. Getting to the Super Bowl was definitely a great accomplishment. Playing the way I did last season in light of the tragedies that were going on with Wellington and Bob passing away was another. But there's just too many."

But there are also negatives. Maybe the worst came in San Francisco in 2003 when the 49ers came back on the Giants during the playoffs.

"That game," he recalled, "we really thought we had a chance that season. After what was a great first three quarters against San Francisco, we let it slip away. We knew we were going to go play Tampa who we thought we could beat because we had a good running game."

Now he moves on and will make a decision on what his next job will be in the coming weeks.

The biggest thing for Barber is that he went out on his terms.

Yet, there will be one coda to Barber's NFL career, since he will be playing in the Pro Bowl later this month. Yet Barber will be treating more like a vacation than anything else.

"[Saints and NFC coach] Sean Payton called me the other day. He said, 'If we don't get to the Super Bowl and I'm the Pro Bowl coach, I'm going to work your ass off.' I said I'm coming to practice and to the game with a Mai Tai.

"No, I don't expect it to be too vigorous."

And he earned it after 10 years in the NFL.

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