That’s about the nicest and most restrained thing I can say about once and possibly future NFL running back Tiki Barber.
In this week’s Sports Illustrated, he offered up this gem, according to an ESPN article:
At one point in the article, Barber describes going into hiding with his girlfriend after his well-publicized breakup with his then-pregnant wife. Barber and his girlfriend ended up in the attic of the home of the player’s agent, Mark Lepselter.
“Lep’s Jewish,” Barber told Sports Illustrated. “And it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.”
Hiding from your pregnant because you left her for an intern is the reversal of a Jewish girl and her family hiding from the Nazis for two years, never knowing that what ultimately did happen-she was betrayed and killed in the Bergen-Belsen camp-would come to pass.
It could just be me, but I don’t get it.
Don’t get me wrong.
We all make mistakes, although the ESPN piece includes a quote from the aforementioned Jewish lawyer to the effect that Barber was a guest of the Israeli government five years ago-the implication there being that thus there is no possible way that anyone could have taken offense to his statement.
Athletes living under the microscope misspeak all the time, as we saw this week with Joakim Noah’s homophobic outburst and Kobe Bryant’s similar epithet several weeks ago.
Athletes aren’t role models (Thanks for that, Charles Barkley, circa early 1990s).
Blah, blah, blah.
At times, I wonder if the trivialization of the Holocaust will ultimately do more to erode its meaning than anything the deniers could ever hope to accomplish.
As readers of this space know, since we’ve started as a community, I’ve written about Obama being compared to Hitler, Arizona’s SB 1070 being compared to Nazi Germany, and a Congressional candidate from Ohio defending his going into the woods dressed as a member of the Waffen SS because they didn’t actually carry out atrocities.
An athlete’s unfortunate comparison does not rank up there with, say, the capture today of Ratko Mladic, the Serbian genocide architect, whose actions at Srebenica form another in the long line of human atrocities.
But words do matter, and I do hope that Barber uses his damaged, but still influential persona, in better ways in the future.