Tiki Barber is apparently going to attempt a comeback to the NFL, but history is obviously not on Barber’s side.
The fact that running backs often die at around 30 is well documented, but Barber survived and succeeded as a 30-year-old back. So how fresh will his legs be at 36, with four years of rest? Will he hit the turf like a 29-year-old? Or will his age and the time off further damage his chances of tearing it up?
That’s obviously tough to tell at this point. Those who have seen Barber recently (I had a conversation with him last month at the Super Bowl in Dallas) would say he doesn’t appear to be in playing shape, so there’s a good chance Tiki will have to succeed with the body of a true 36-year-old.
theScore.com’s research guru Steve Fellin did some digging and provided a short list of notable running backs who played at the age of 36. Then Fellin tallied their stats from the season(s) in which they were 36 or older. It isn’t pretty:
Marcus Allen (Chiefs), 1996 & 1997: 1,330 rush yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 20 TD
John Riggins (Redskins), 1985: 677 rush yards, 3.8 yards per carry, 8 TD
John Henry Johnson (Steelers/Texans), 1966 & 1967: 237 rush yards, 3.2 yards per carry, 3 TD
Joe Perry (49ers), 1963: 98 rush yards, 4.1 yards per carry, 0 TD
Johnson was the oldest running back to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a season when, at the age of 35, he ran for 1,048 yards with the Steelers in 1964.
I don’t like Tiki’s chances. And neither does Steve Smith…