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Barber Brothers To But Heads Sunday

October 1, 1998

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ It’s been a long time since Tiki and Ronde Barber went after each other.

By Tiki’s recollection, one of the last times was when the identical twins were youngsters fighting in their living room because ``I took his lollipop″ or something like that.

As the words come out of his mouth, Tiki Barber gave a smile expected from a brother affectionately teasing a brother.

There has been a lot of that this week as the Barbers get ready for Sunday’s game between the New York Giants (2-2) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3).

Make no mistake, this game is special. It’s the first time the Barbers, 23-year-old twins and in their second NFL season, will compete against each other in an organized football game.

Tiki is a backup halfback for the Giants who will play mostly on third downs. Ronde is a nickel back for the Bucs, who will enter the game in passing situations.

``He is going to trot on the field the same time I do,″ Tiki Barber said.

Actually, all this was supposed to happen last year when the Bucs played at Giants Stadium on Nov. 30. However, Ronde Barber was deactivated on game day. He is nursing a hamstring and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Tampa, but Tiki expects him to play.

The twins have spoken to each other almost every day this week with each jokingly trying to get the inside scope on the other’s team.

``I think this will be real special,″ Tiki Barber said Thursday after practice. ``We are actually going to get a chance to play against each other. Last year he didn’t play. It was an anticlimactic buildup. This year it is going to happen.″

The Barbers, who played at the University of Virginia, had always been on the same team. Geraldine Barber, their mother, made sure of that.

``We always had to be on the same team because she wasn’t traveling to different places to drop us off and see us play,″ Tiki Barber said.

Mom also is going to be on hand for this game, wearing neutral colors and rooting for both teams.

``Truthfully, I probably won’t even notice him until after the fact,″ Tiki Barber said of the prospect of being hit by his brother. ``When you are on the field you, don’t look at faces. You kind of react to the other color jersey.″

And if the guy in the white jersey who hits him happens to be Ronde, Tiki said he will be ready. ``I’m talking trash to him,″ he said. ``I have to, he’ll be doing it to me.″

It will be good natured trash though because that the way the Barbers are.

``I think we are as close as any two people can be,″ Tiki said. ``I think a lot has to do when we were little, we were really shy. We wouldn’t be with other people or talk to other people. Anything we did was together. We hung out together, went to sports together, anywhere we went we were together.″

The twins also pushed each other to be better and it got both of them to the NFL last season.

After dinner together on Saturday night, the Barbers will go after each other on Sunday.

Tiki Barber smiled when that topic came up again, and the grin got wider when he was asked if he would help his brother up if he ran over him on a play.

``I’d have to,″ he said. ``I’d pick him a little bit, and let him go.″

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