Call me crazy. Call me delusional, but Tiki Barber will make an impact on the 2011 NFL season. After playing ten seasons for the New York Giants, Barber filed his paperwork for retirement in 2006. Barber, now 36, has been through a lot in his four years away from the league. He watched his former employer win the Super Bowl, he landed a prime Sunday Night football analyst gig on NBC (only to get fired), and left his pregnant wife for an intern. Reports say that he even dealt with a bout against depression. Needless to say, money and his ego are at all-time lows. Barber has filed his paperwork for reinstatement and will become property of the Giants when this CBA thing is worked out. The Giants have indicated that they will release him, opening the door for 31 other teams to sign the multi-talented back. Despite his age and time away from the game, here are three reasons why Barber will make an impact this season…

 

Run, Tiki.

#1 Multi-Purpose Player: Barber ranks 12th on the All-Time multi-purpose list with 15,632 yards from scrimmage. Barber can help teams with his pass catching ability and toughness inside the tackle box. I know he’s 36-years-old and hasn’t taken a hit in years, but Barber is the type of player who always had himself in top physical shape. NFL players pride themselves on production and know when to walk away from the game. If Tiki knew he couldn’t play anymore, he wouldn’t attempt a comeback.

In addition, Barber was always one of the better pass blockers in football. A team may solely take a chance on him due to his impressive blocking ability. Tiki is on the wrong side of 30, but his dual threat ability has teams interested.

#2 Motivation: Some may argue that Barber is coming back to football for all the wrong reasons (money, ego, etc.) and that may be the case. However, when a player is such a bad spot like he is, he will pour his heart and soul into the game and find his peace. At least, that’s what I believe and Barber has always been a spiritual type of player. Barber knows he has talent and his desire to play may be higher than its ever been. Some team will offer him the league minimum for veterans and he’ll help that team on third down, pass blocking, and hopefully with the younger players (for a change).

#3 Possible Suitors: Some may think there’s no market for his services, but I’m not one of those people. The public perception around Barber isn’t as bad as some other free agents and he has a proven track record. Some say that Steelers could take a chance on him. Others say New England. To me, St. Louis seems like a great fit for a few reasons. The Rams didn’t draft a running back and need someone capable of spelling Steven Jackson while keeping Sam Bradford upright. Barber could play on third downs and would come cheaply. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a plethora of running back options in New England, many of whom were on the wrong side of 30. Barber would play in a low pressure environment and even provide guidance to Jackson, a dual-threat back in his own right.

Regardless of where he ends up, Barber will have an impact this season. That impact may not always show up on the stat sheet, but it’ll go a long way in shaping a football team. He has always been a dynamic, sound football player and there’s a market for that in the NFL. Say what you want about his ego, his off-the-field issues, and money situation, but Tiki Barber will have a meaningful impact on the 2011 season.