Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tiki Barber: I'm the New Anne Frank or Something

Why didn't I see this already? Here you have a man who dumped his eight-months pregnant wife to run off with his 23-year-old girlfriend. Facing withering public scrutiny, he wound up laying low at his agent's house and even claims to have lived in the attic.

So obviously the first thing we should have thought about was how similar his plight was to a Jewish girl who spent two years hiding from the Nazis before being murdered.

It's all so obvious now.
Tiki Barber never did have a terribly helpful internal editor. It's what made him a classic locker-room lawyer as a player, polarizing in his smugness. It's what caused his downfall at NBC, where he asked to be judged not as an ex-jock but as a journalist, and when those grades came in his grade-point average resembled Bluto Blutarsky.

Now, there is this.

Now, in the same issue of Sports Illustrated in which Fred Wilpon spoke about how much money his team is hemorrhaging, in the same week Wilpon made like Michael Corleone, bloodily settling all family business, Barber -- in what clearly was intended to be a positive story (sound familiar?) -- explained his life after he left his pregnant wife, Ginny, taking up with his 23-year-old girlfriend, Traci Johnson.

Barber told SI's L. Jon Wertheim that he and Johnson decided to escape the media scrutiny by moving into the attic of Mark Lepselter, Barber's agent.

"Lep's Jewish," Wertheim quotes Barber, "and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing."

Yes, read that again. Not a typo. That's what he said.

It's remarkable: Barber has a gift for saying exactly the wrong thing almost every time he opens his mouth.

He has gone on an extensive media rehab tour as he makes his ballyhooed return to the NFL -- a comeback that in itself is admirable, because he clearly left an awful lot of football on the table when he retired at the close of the 2006 season.

Now this? Really? He really thought it was a good idea to compare holing up with his paramour, hoping to ward off Page Six, to the two-year plight of the Frank family hiding from the Nazis -- a story, by the way, that ended with Anne's death from typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp?

It's staggering, is what it is. Think about this: Think about what the reaction would be if any of the white named plaintiffs in the NFLPA's antitrust lawsuit -- Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, for starters -- decided to compare their plight to Dred Scott's?
Well, for one the reactions would be widespread derision, and it would be far more newsworthy since those two still have careers. Barber may be able to make a comeback if there's an NFL season this year. But while Brady and Manning will probably always handle themselves with class, Barber will always be a lowlife.

That much we should have seen a long time ago.

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