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Former Giants RB Barber: Comeback 'feels right for me'

NEW YORK -- Tiki Barber insists his attempt to return to the NFL after four years in retirement is not about money.

The 36-year-old former New York Giants running back surprisingly retired in 2006 to pursue a broadcasting career. Then, just as surprisingly, he decided to give the NFL another shot.

He asked the team to take him off the reserve-retirement list in March. The Giants said they will release him once the league allows it. Teams have not been allowed to make roster moves because of the lockout.

Last year, the New York Post reported Barber was broke and couldn't pay his divorce settlement with his ex-wife.

"It has nothing to do about the money," Barber told The Associated Press on Thursday in a brief interview. "I made a lot of money when I was playing. I made a lot when I was not playing in the media world.

"I need a goal. I need something to focus on and be excited about."

Barber is the Giants' career rushing leader with 10,449 yards, 22nd best in league history.

He had two years left on his contract when he left the game for a job in television, so the Giants still hold his rights.

Barber's second career with NBC fizzled, though he is still working in the media.

He was working for Yahoo! Sports on Thursday at a Manhattan ballroom, interviewing Browns running back Peyton Hillis, who won a fan vote to be on the cover of the "Madden NFL 12" video game.

Barber's comeback has been stalled by the labor dispute, but he said he's been working out with a strength trainer in New Jersey, preparing to play this season.

"All I can do is get myself physically and mentally ready to play this game again," he said.

Barber's twin, Ronde, is still active, playing cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I know that I miss this game. I see my brother and some of these other guys I played with in college still doing it," Tiki Barber said. "It gives me a lot of confidence that I can go back and play at a high level."

The season after Barber quit, the Giants upset the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And he hasn't endeared himself to the franchise or its fans since he's been away.

He has criticized coach Tom Coughlin and former teammate Eli Manning, saying the quarterback lacked leadership skills.

Barber was booed by fans this past season when the Giants unveiled their ring of honor in their new $1.6 billion stadium.

While it's unclear which team might give Barber a shot, he's not concerned that there won't be any interest.

"There's been overtures literally from the day I retired," he said. "The interest has always been there it's just a matter of me having the heart to pull the trigger.

"It feels right for me. I feel young. I feel healthy. I feel very confident."

Barber said he feels as if he has nothing to lose by trying to restart his NFL career at an age when most running backs are finished.

"People ask me about not succeeding," he said. "I say what's the worst thing that can happen? I fail. There are much worse things that could happen."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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