|Jerry Lai / US Presswire|
|Forgive us, but with the lockout stunting younger quarterbacks' growth, teams could do worse than Brett Favre.|
Longtime New York Giants running back Tiki Barber will try to make a comeback after four seasons out of the NFL. It won't be easy, especially when teams would rather have younger, fresher legs than someone who's 36 years old. Still, there is something to be said about players who've been there before -- especially good ones.
Barber retired in 2006 at the top of his game, rushing for 1,662 yards with 58 catches to boot. It was his fifth consecutive season with at least 1,200 yards rushing.
There are a handful of players who've recently left the game after Barber who really haven't shown a desire to come back. Yet, if that sliver of a chance materialized, here are a handful of guys who might be able to resurrect one final season.
Brett Favre, 41: I know it seems like heresy to even speculate another comeback after years of will-he-won't-he offseason drama. Favre's officially filed retirement papers, and his body probably will take years to recover from 20 seasons of abuse.
Still, with this lockout shortening the time players such as Jake Locker, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have to prepare (no mention of Christian Ponder because the Vikings wouldn't dare go there again with Favre), having a guy to serve as "nursemaid" is a viable option. Favre's career ended with him standing on the sideline in street clothes because of a concussion. Not quite a storybook ending.
Teams could do a lot worse than Favre, and we know he'd sure make things fun/crazy/absurd. Thing is, if he would rekindle the magic the way he did in 2009, we'd be back to Cirque du Favre.
Kurt Warner, 39: Warner dismisses any talk of a comeback when it's broached and, knowing him, he's not donning a pair of cleats again unless it's to play in a charity softball game or coach youth-league sports. Still, Warner is the king of reinventing himself. He's gotten off the mat more times than Oscar De La Hoya and managed to rewrite a script that will land him in the Hall of Fame one day.
If Warner went to a team that has a good offensive line and running game, like Tennessee or Carolina, he could probably make something out of the situation. Of course, his Arizona Cardinals need help at quarterback.
Although it appears they're poised to make a run at Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb or Denver's Kyle Orton, there's a chance teh Cards could swing and miss. If that happened, it wouldn't be surprising if someone, even in passing, suggests calling Warner. He'd probably politely answer and decline, but it'd be worth a shot.
Warrick Dunn, 36: Dunn remains one of the most overlooked running backs in recent history, in part, because he's known more for his charitable work away from football. We've actually had several discussions about that. While he loves doing what he does civically, he doesn't like that people fail to realize he's in an exclusive club of players to rush for more than 10,000 yards.
The diminutive Dunn took care of his body and played with more heart than just about anyone to put on a pair of pads. He quietly exited following the 2008 season, when he averaged 4.2 yards per carry and seven yards a catch with Tampa Bay. He's a part owner of the Falcons, but picturing him reunited as a situational back with Eagles quarterback Michael Vick -- they both rushed for more than 1,000 yards in Atlanta in 2006 -- might add even more sparks to an explosive offense.
Antonio Pierce, 32: A neck injury ended the middle linebacker's career after nine seasons -- so that's that. However, since he left, the Giants defense, especially at linebacker, hasn't been the same. Pierce was a tough guy, a leader and a playmaker. The injury and a burgeoning broadcast career will keep him from stepping on the field. It's just intriguing to imagine him still roaming the middle of the defense for the G-Men.
Jamal Lewis, 31: Lewis retired in 2009 but seemed to have some fuel in the tank after 10 seasons. He was disenchanted with how things were going in Cleveland, which led to his release. He didn't play last season, even though he said he would consider it if he landed in the right situation. This member of the 10,000-yard rushing club could provide some periodic muscle for a team needing to spell a big back or get some short-yardage push.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89