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Bend it Like Barber

An elite footballer, plenty of miles left in his 31-year-old legs, steps down from world-class competition this week to concentrate on his entertainment career.

David Beckham? Well, yes.

But Tiki Barber as well.

This week saw both Beckham, formerly of England, Manchester United and Real Madrid, and Barber, of the New York Giants, step off the premiere pitch to assume another position in front of the camera. Beckham of course will strap on the boots for the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS—launching a million trite headlines referencing Bend it Like Beckham, such as ours. And when he’s not roaming the midfield for the Galaxy, "Brand Beckham" will dabble in the entertainment opportunities presented him by his rep, Simon Fuller, creator of American Idol.

Barber, who insists he played his last game Sunday against the Eagles, is in negotiations with a host of networks, from ABC to Fox to NBC, to do TV news. According to Richard Sandomir’s tongue in cheek story in the NY Times today, the exceedingly erudite Barber will also co-host, ahem, Regis & Tiki each morning.

Used to be, an aging athlete limped off to the broadcast booth to share war stories with the TV audience. But if Becks and Barber are any indication, there’s no reason to wait for the skills to fade before jumping to Hollywood.

By Michael Malone