Story by Chris Graham
Tiki Barber doesn’t shy away from the notion that he at least wanted to be a great NFL player.
Nor does the University of Virginia alum and retired New York Giants star step back from admitting that he wants to be a great in the world of television broadcasting.
“I used to always try to determine what greatness meant – and as a football player, all I wanted to do was be consistent, do the same thing over and over and over again, and have people come to depend and rely on me,” said Barber, who was in Charlottesville last week to sign copies of his book Tiki: My Life in the Game and Beyond.
“Looking at some of the great players before me, that’s what they did – their teammates could depend on them to show up and be accountable every week. And that’s how I wanted to be known as a football player – and as I transition out of that aspect of my life, I want to be that way in the rest of my life as well,” said Barber, who retired from the NFL after the 2006 season and now works for NBC.
He returned to the scene where he first made a name for himself – on Grounds at UVa., where he was a record-setting tailback from 1993-1996.
“I always love to come back to this area of the country and visit close to my hometown of Roanoke. This is a place where I grew up and became a man – and learned about being socially responsible. Coming back here last year to kick off the capital campaign was very fulfilling – and now coming back writing somewhat of a memoir, hopefully people are interested in it and get some inspiration and aspirations from my book,” Barber said.
“Some of the more galvanizing and important parts of my life happened here and are mentioned in the book. Obviously a lot of it is wrapped around football – so if you like football, you’ll be entertained by that part. I think it weaves together life and sports – which has been my existence for 32 years,” Barber said.
Barber did admit to one thing that he probably didn’t want to – living in the New York area, he doesn’t get to keep up with the goings-on in Virginia football as much as he would like.
Barber did say in a brief chat with reporters before a book signing at the University of Virginia Bookstore last week that he has been “impressed and surprised” with the 2007 ‘Hoos.
“After the first week’s loss, it was, Where are we going to go this season? And then all of the sudden, it was win after win after win – a couple of weeks ago, they had the nailbiter that they win by a point. So you see that it’s a team that has some grit to it, and that’s exciting,” said of the Virginia team, which now stands at 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC following a 29-24 loss at North Carolina State over the weekend.
Barber said he plans to return to Grounds in a few weeks for the annual Virginia-Virginia Tech game.
“I’m excited definitely to see that one, for many reasons, one because when I was here, we never beat them. Two is it’s historic – it will be a chance to celebrate some Virginia pride with what happened earlier this year down in Blacksburg,” Barber said.
One thing there, Tiki – you do own a victory over the Hokies. Virginia defeated Virginia Tech 42-23 in 1994 when Barber was a second-year at UVa.
Staff member Mike Hodge contributed to this report.