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Tiki Barber’s agent knew early that broadcasting career was doomed

In 2007, as newly retired Tiki Barber was floundering in his bid to become the next Matt Lauer, he and his agent met with Tampa Bay Buccaneers personnel — including then coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen and Barber’s twin brother, Ronde — to discuss Tiki coming out of retirement to play running back for the team.

“They talked football and drank a little tequila. Gruden came on strong, telling Barber that Tampa needed him to make a playoff run and that he could take three weeks to get back into shape before playing the second half of the season,” reports Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com.

Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, was all for it.

“I was pushing for it hard,” Lepselter said, “because I already knew things weren’t going in the right direction for Tiki.”

Mind you, this was just a few months into his new duties with “Today” and “Football Night in America.”

Alas, Barber balked at resuming his football career – at least at that point. After his broadcasting career flamed out at NBC (and following a very pubic breakup with his pregnant wife), Barber, 36, is once again pursuing a career on the gridiron.

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