Former Giants running back Tiki Barber had a lengthy profile run in SI this week, and true to the pattern of anything Tiki-related lately, there was a controversy. The piece by L. Jon Wertheim is extremely well done and worth your time. In it you get a glimpse of who Tiki is and what some of his problems were. He comes across as a guy who tried hard to be a part of high society and make it a point to his teammates that he was different from them. High society accepted him until they learned he was a fraud, and now he’s been left without much of a place. That’s a big part of the reason he’s trying to come back to the NFL.
But getting back to the interview, he made an extremely poor and despicable reference that has created a controversy. When describing what it was like hiding out from the media after news broke that he left his long-time wife for a 23-year-old NBC intern, Barber told the magazine that he and his girlfriend were at his agent, Mark Lepselter’s house. “Lep’s Jewish,” Barber said, “and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.”
That is such a stupid comparison to make. Anne Frank was hiding from the Nazis to protect her life. Barber was hiding from the New York press to protect his image and ego. The two are about on the same planes as asparagus and frisbees.
As Wertheim noted in his article, the horrendously ill-informed comparison was Barber writ small. “He has the wit and smarts to make an Anne Frank allusion and the artlessness to liken himself—an adulterer trying to elude gossip columnists—to a Holocaust victim,” Wertheim wrote.
But that’s not all about Barber. There’s this description from former Giants lineman Roman Oben.
“But we’d beat the Cowboys and fly home. Guys are yelling, playing cards and watching movies. Tiki’s sitting there, legs crossed, reading Wuthering Heights or whatever. Come on. Some guys let you know how bad they had it growing up. Tiki wanted you to know the opposite: Hey, I’m not from the hood.”
Right now you no doubt have images of Kanye West’s college dropout in your mind because Tiki will always have his degrees to keep him warm at night. I don’t even know him and I want to punch based on that description.
The article also makes Tiki out to be a sad figure who lost his way after his divorce and firing from NBC. We’re told “[Tiki] bought a Harley. He inked up his body, tattooing his mother’s directive PLAY PROUD on his rib cage and FIERY-TEMPERED KING, the meaning of his name in an African dialect, on his chest.”
Does that sound like Tiki to you? It sounds to me like someone who didn’t know how to respond to all the issues in his life.
Barber also explained why he wants to return to the game. “It’s about self-fulfillment,” Barber says. “It’s about having a goal, trying to do something that maybe hasn’t been done before, returning to run the ball at a high level after four years away.”
The whole article is worth a read because there’s so much more than just one quote (first seen at Deadspin to promote the piece). Getting back to the crux of this post, this quote is not as much about an offense to Jews (even though it is). It just really shows how sophisticated Tiki tries to be but how unsophisticated he really is. Perhaps if he just tried to stay true to himself the way his brother has, he’d be a lot happier.Google+
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