Tiki Barber is the greatest Giants running back in the team’s history. In his 10-year career, he scored 68 touchdowns, averaged 4.7 yards per carry, gained more than 10,000 yards rushing and more than 5,000 yards receiving, and retired as the team’s all-time leading rusher and receiver. Drafted in the second round of Jim Fassel’s first draft in 1997, the 5’10” Barber was projected as the new Dave Meggett, a third-down back to catch passes out of the backfield and return kicks.
In the weight room, though, Barber built himself up to 200 pounds, and proved himself to be an every-down feature back for New York.
Barber’s main flaw was that he started out as a fumbler. In seven years under Jim Fassel, Tiki averaged one fumble every 42 touches. Once new coach Tom Coughlin showed Barber a better way to carry the ball, that average dropped in his Last three seasons to one fumble every 130 touches.
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Barber also craved the spotlight and loved to talk to the media, but that did not always have a positive impact on his teammates or his coach. When he announced his pending retirement early in the 2006 season, it served as just one more distraction that the collapsing Giants did not need. Barber’s seamless transition to The Today Show and NBC Sports immediately after the season came as no surprise.
At the end of his final game as a Giants player, a playoff loss to the Eagles in which Barber gained 137 yards rushing, Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins paid his longtime rival the ultimate compliment by telling him, “You’re a warrior.”
Barber was a team leader throughout a 10-year period in which the Giants went to the playoffs five times and the Super Bowl once. That they never won it all during his career was no fault of the ever-elusive and surprisingly powerful Barber, and the team’s Super Bowl victory the year after he retired was, to some, a cruel twist of fate.
Tiki Barber retired as both the leading rusher and leading receiver in Giants history.
He’s been outstanding. He’s played with great consistency. He’s taken good care of the ball. He’s an extremely durable guy.