Tiki Barber says it's unfair to label his TV career a bust

Fresh off his appearance Tuesday night on HBO’s “Real Sports,” Tiki Barber took to the airwaves in New York, appearing on WFAN with Mike Francesa.

The interview, which was transcribed by the fine folks at sportsradiointerviews.com, got a little testy at times. Actually, it got a lot testy before returning to discussion of Barber’s intent to make a return to the NFL at age 36 after four seasons out of the league.

Francesa asked whether Barber’s failed television career was an impetus for him to put on the pads again. He also asked him point-blank if money was the motivation for him jumping back in.

“No, that’s the simple answer Mike,” said the former New York Giants star. “A lot of people get caught up in ‘Oh, he needs a job, he’s going through a divorce, he needs money.’ But it’s not about that. It’s a redemption for me. I need to be successful at something, and something I’ve always been good at is playing football. I know I have the physical ability to do that, I know I have the mental ability to do it.

“And having been around the game for the last four years first with NBC and then with Yahoo! Sports, I see this stage that I used to love and the passions slowly started to come back as I watched the Steelers win the Super Bowl, as I went to the Super Bowl last year and saw how dynamic that was. Obviously following my brother the last few years and going to his games, I realized this is something that can bring back me. And that’s what’s important.”

Then, Francesa asked if Barber’s bust out on NBC’s “Today Show” was the driving force behind his decision.

“No, I think you’re going a little bit into hyperbole there Mike because I didn’t have a big failure in broadcasting,” Barber said. “I think if you laid the stage that you tried to at the time that I would be the next Matt Lauer, then yeah it was a failure. But I had a lot of fulfillment at NBC. I did a lot of stories that I think had a lot of impact over the three years that I was there. So I don’t think it was a failure. I think it was a learning experience. It turned out to not be the direction of broadcasting that I wanted to be in, but I think it’s unfair for you to label it that way.”

Francesa then insisted that his failed television career has to be part of the discussion in him resuming his football career.

“Mike, your question is leading, and a lot of people would say you don’t do a good job because you badger your listeners, you badger your interviewers,” Barber said. “You have a lot of people who don’t respect you because of the way you do things. I respect you because you have a great knowledge about sports and the game of football. Do you always do it the correct way? I’m not sure. Do you interview people the correct way? Because we’re talking about my life here … I’m not so sure.”

The interview is entertaining and you can catch the entire thing right here.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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