Erich (pronounced Ee-Rich) Theodore Barnes (born July 4, 1935) was an American football defensive back in the National Football League. He was a six-time Pro Bowler. Before the NFL, he was an outstanding all-around athlete at Purdue University (1956–58), where one of his teammates was future NFL star quarterback Len Dawson.
Barnes was drafted in the fourth round by the Bears in the 1958 NFL Draft and traded to the Giants in 1961. He tied an NFL record in his first season with the Giants by intercepting a pass against the Cowboys and returning it 102 yards for a touchdown. In the 1962 NFL Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers in New York, the Giants tried to redeem themselves from a 37-0 shellacking by the Packers in the 1961 title game. However, they lost again to Lombardi's Packers on a fiercely windy and cold day in Yankee Stadium. Barnes set up the only scoring for the Giants when he blocked a punt that was recovered by Giants teammate Jim Collier in the end zone in a 16-7 loss.
Barnes was known as an aggressive, physical player, and is the Giants record holder for longest interception return after scoring on a 102-yard return against the Dallas Cowboys in 1961.
After the 1964 season, the Giants traded him to the Cleveland Browns--his favorite team as a child-- for linebacker Mike Lucci and a 1966 third round draft pick which the Giants then traded to Detroit for quarterback Earl Morrall. This trade further aggravated the demise of a once stellar Giants defense that had already lost standouts Sam Huff and Dick Modzelewski, who was also traded to the Browns and an integral component of their 1964 NFL championship team after the 1963 season.
While with the Browns, Barnes was known for standing at the goalpost (then stationed at the goal line) and blocking field goal attempts (a practice later outlawed in the NFL).
After his football career, Barnes went on to work in the New York City area as a corporate special events planner. He was elected to the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Purdue University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2012, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mike Pettica ranked Barnes as the #63 player in Browns' history (counting only what players did playing for Cleveland). The Professional Football Researchers Association named Barnes to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2013
In November 1963, Barnes appeared as one of the impostors on the panel game show To Tell the Truth, claiming to be a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Tom Poston was particularly chagrined at not having recognized Barnes, who fooled two of the four panelists.