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Barber 'on a mission of redemption' as he attempts comeback

Tiki Barber credits his girlfriend with motivating him to return to football, he told the *New York Post*.

The 36-year-old ex-New York Giants running back, who announced last month that he would try to return to the NFL after four years in retirement, admitted his recent divorce from his wife of 11 years took a toll on him.

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"I went through and am going through a divorce, and as much as you want to put on a brave face, it gets hard," Barber told the Post on Wednesday. "There were times ... where I didn't even want to leave my house. I was literally sitting around doing nothing. I couldn't motivate myself to do anything.

Barber said Traci Johnson, a 24-year-old former NBC intern whom he met while working on "The Today Show," finally helped him snap out of his funk.

"When we first met, he was completely motivated. He wanted to have an influence on everything, wanted to make an impact," Johnson told the Post. "And so it was a complete shock just to see him basically disintegrate."

Barber admitted to having "made mistakes," though he didn't go into detail as to what those transgressions were. Barber's ex-wife reportedly was eight months pregnant when he was seen around New York with Johnson and subsequently slapped with divorce papers.

Barber retired following the 2006 season after 10 seasons with the Giants. He then was hired as a correspondent for the "The Today Show" and "Football Night in America."

Barber was fired from NBC in 2010.

After spending so much time indoors depressed, Barber said he's ready to get back to work -- outdoors, playing football.

Barber, according to USA Today, recently sent a text to his manager that read: "I'm on a mission of redemption."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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