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Now that Tiki Barber has fallen down he should stage a comeback


On the bright side, his legs should be plenty fresh for his inevitable NFL comeback attempt.

That's pretty much it, bright side-wise, if you're Tiki Barber right now. The legs are fresh. Really fresh! Ready to go!

First, the obvious lesson: Don't cheat on your wife. It never works out. N-E-V-E-R. The second, even more obvious lesson: Don't cheat on your wife when she's eight months pregnant. Not when you're a football player, not when you're a doctor, not when you're a plumber, not when you're a sportswriter -- and especially not when you're a correspondent for a wildly popular morning television program that counts women between the ages of 30 and 50 as its core demographic. Call me old fashioned, but for some reason the ladies aren't all that interested in receiving Mother's Day tips from a man who left his wife for a 23-year-old intern.

If you haven't heard (and the odds of that are awfully slim), the Tiki Barber we all knew and loved is in ruins. According to the New York Post, the three-time Pro Bowler -- having been cut by NBC from both his Today Show and Football Night in America gigs and currently receiving $0.00 in income -- is too broke to pay a divorce settlement demanded by his ex-wife, Ginny. He is out of work, out of options, out of opportunities to repair an image damned by poor decisions and even worse actions.

Thank god for sports.

Much like a bottle of cherry Mad Dog 20/20, professional athletics will always be there for its own. No transgression is too horrid, no handcuffs too thick, no infidelity too graphic. Think about it. How many dogs did Michael Vick torture and kill? How many times did Steve Howe fail a drug test? How often did we hear of the trials, tribulations and, inevitably, comebacks of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry? How many steroid cheaters were not merely allowed to stay in the majors, but hailed as heroes for their courage and conviction?

Sure, Tiki Barber is 35-years old and three years removed from his last NFL season. Sure, he has been exposed as a dog. But if normal people have one life and cats have nine, professional athletes are gifted with, on average, 4,543,212. In other words, we've been down this road before, over and over and over again.

Hence, here is what will happen to Barber in the ensuing months:

Step one: Through his agent, Barber announces that he is planning an NFL comeback. "This has nothing to do with any of the unsubstantiated rumors," his agent says. "Tiki has long regretted leaving the game too soon, and he wants to complete some unfinished business. He's been working out every day, and he's stronger than ever."

Step two: Though the New York Giants are not interested (Says an unnamed team official: "We'll re-sign Butch Woolfolk before we go down that road again.") Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis calls and offers Barber a two-year contract along with a $2 million signing bonus. Barber announces that it's a dream come true. Only after the deal is completed does Davis realize he has not signed Adrian Peterson.

Step three: Barber reports to Raiders camp and meets with the media for the first time. He is gregarious and funny, and calls all the writers by their first names. They in turn laugh at all of his jokes.

Step four: Barber pulls his hamstring on the second day and plummets to 10th on the depth chart. He asks for his release, and is immediately signed by the Hartford Colonials of the UFL. Barber announces that it's a dream come true. "To play for a new franchise in a new league -- well, it's the reason I became a football player," he says. He meets with the media, only there is no media. He remains gregarious and funny.

Step five: Barber is beat out for the Colonials starting halfback position by somebody named Marlon Lucky. He asks for his release, and immediately signs to appear on the revised TheSurreal Life. Barber says that it's a dream come true: "The chance to live in a house with Kip Winger, Ila Borders, Larry Wilcox, Soleil Moon Frye, the guy who played Lionel on TheJeffersons, Melba Moore and William Zabka was too good to pass up," he says in a statement. "It's the reason I became a football player."

Step six:The Surreal Life is canceled after Wilcox and the guy who played Lionel on The Jeffersons refuses to live with Barber, what with his transgressions and all. Tiki appears on Oprah, announcing that it's a dream come true to be here. He cries repeatedly, admits "I'm flawed," shares with Oprah his mother's recipe for cherry pancakes and, after an hour, departs to thunderous applause. CBS's Peter Golden calls by sunset. "Tiki," he asks, "how would you feel about co-hosting a cooking show with Tony Danza?"

There is no hesitation.

"It's a dream come true," Barber says. "A dream come true."