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TCA: Tiki Barber, 'I'm a Giants fan'

July 21, 2008 | 10:06 pm

As the nine-member squad of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" walked onstage Monday afternoon, the experienced panel, which included announcer Al Michaels and former coach John Madden, were facing a lot of obvious issues for the upcoming season.

Will the New England Patriots recover from their Super Bowl loss and dominate again? What about Brett Favre's bid to return to the field? After Emmitt Smith, Jason Taylor and Jerry Rice, who will be the next NFL player to do the old soft-shoe on "Dancing With the Stars?"

While all of these questions were eventually posed, the first was a handoff to Tiki Barber, who only joined the NBC team last season. Did he have any mixed emotions about this year's Super Bowl, regarded as one of the greatest upsets ever as the wild-card Giants knocked off the previoulsy unbeaten Patriots?

The former star running back for the New York Giants had stunned many football fans by retiring at the end of the 2006 season. While he had always planned on a broadcasting career after the gridiron, Barber had made no secret that his rocky relationship with disciplinarian coach Tom Coughlin expedited his departure from the league.

"I had no mixed emotions," said Barber, who could have remained on the championship team. "I'm a Giants fan. I'm a season-ticket holder."

He added that he didn't regret his retirement and that "health-wise" and "professional-wise," it was the right thing to do. But, he admitted, "Super Bowl-wise, it wasn't so great."

Barber later dismissed speculation that he'd be making an appearance on "Dancing With the Stars," but Madden said former defensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders Warren Sapp would be next. He wasn't kidding, and Madden, who claimed to have seen the beefy lineman dance, predicted that Sapp would win the contest.

-- Martin Miller