How can it not be?
Barber has been a disaster since retiring from the New York Giants. His television career has been in the toilet for a while now. If you follow the tabloid news you know his personal life is a shambles, and you can't ever respect anyone Tiki's age for dumping a pregnant wife for a 20-something hottie.
On top of all of that, I know there were plenty of mixed feelings about the guy I like to call 'Tiki Blabber' even before he played his final snap with the Giants. The things he said publicly about Tom Coughlin should never be aired about a coach since they divide and distract a team, and as a whole the Giants were better off once Tiki passed the running torch to Brandon Jacobs.
But, in judging his place with the Giants we have to put that aside. We will put aside all the extracurriculars for Lawrence Taylor when we get to 56. And, we already put them aside for Plaxico Burress when we discussed 17.
We have to judge purely what Barber did on the field as a player. And the reality is he played better, for longer, than any Giants running back ever has.
- Five straight seasons of 1,000+yards to end his career. His 1,860 and 1,662-yard seasons in the final two years of his career were the best seasons ever for a Giants running back. He also owns the third-best season, having gained 1,518 yards in 2004.
- He is easily the team's all-time leading rusher with 10,449 yards -- nearly 4,000 yards ahead of second-place Rodney Hampton.
- Among non-kickers only Frank Gifford and Joe Morrison have scored more points for the Giants.
- He is fourth all-time in total yardage among Giants' punt returners.
- Barber had the two highest yardage games in team history -- 234 yards Dec. 20, 2006 against Washington and 220 yards vs. Kansas City Dec. 17, 2005.
- Giants' backs have gone over 200 yards eight times -- and Barber had five of those games.
- He leads the franchise in 100+yard games with 38 -- double the number for second-place Joe Morris.
- His 95-yard run Dec. 31, 2005 vs. Oakland is the longest in franchise history.
- Barber's 55 rushing touchdowns are the most in team history.
- He has the most all-purpose yards in team history with 17,359 -- nearly 7,000 more than Amani Toomer.
So, putting any personal feelings aside about the way Tiki has conducted himself the past few seasons his on-field greatness can't be questioned.
As far as other notables who have worn 21, we know it is currently occupied by Kenny Phillips. Special teams dynamo Reyna Thompson also wore 21 from 1989-92.