Mark Lepselter, the agent for former New York Giant Tiki Barber, came to his client’s defense today after Barber created a firestorm of criticism by comparing his self-imposed hiding from the media to the Nazi-influenced hiding of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
Barber, who’s been a dart board for many thanks to post-career hijinks that include leaving his pregnant wife for a much younger woman, said in Sports Illustrated that after he and girlfriend Traci Johnson moved into Lepselter’s house the couple were hiding out in his attic.
“Lep’s Jewish,” says Barber in the article, “and it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing .”
Needless to say, comparing yourself (even in a mangled, nonsensical analogy) to a young Jewish girl who unsuccessfully tried to hide from the Nazis is not going to make you simpatico in most quarters. His agent, however, came to his defense.
“In a world where nothing surprises me, where things get completely blown out of proportion, this only adds to the list,” Lepselter told ESPNNewYork.com. “All Tiki was saying to Jon (Wertheim) was he was shedding light on going back to that time when he was literally trapped, so to speak, in my attic for a week. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Let me remind all those who want to make this more than it is: Tiki was a guest of [president] Shimon Peres in Israel five years ago.”
Um, yeah, that doesn’t really have anything to do with this.
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, described Barber’s comment as “outrageous and perverse.”
“Holocaust trivialization continues to spread and finds new ways and expressions that shock the conscience,” Foxman said in a news release. “Tiki Barber’s personal behavior is his business. But our history and experiences are ours and deserve greater respect than being abused or perverted by Tiki Barber.
“The analogy to Anne Frank is not funny, it is outrageous and perverse. Anne Frank was not hiding voluntarily. Before she perished at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she hid from the Nazis for more than two years, fearing every day for her life. The Frank family’s experiences, as recorded in Anne’s dairy, are a unique testimonial to the horrors of the Holocaust, and her life should never be debased or degraded by insensitive and offensive analogies.”