Barker played college football at the University of Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to 35 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (the best record of any quarterback at Alabama). On January 1, 1993 the Crimson Tide beat the top-ranked Miami Hurricanes in the Sugar Bowl to win a National Championship. Barker won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 1994 and finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy that year. His father, Jerome Barker, died the following year.
Out of college, Barker was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 5th round of the NFL draft, but was released during training camp. He spent time on the rosters of the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, but never played in a regular season game. He signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League for three seasons beginning in 1998 and appeared in 38 games before missing most of the 2000 season with injuries. As a CFL quarterback he amassed 3,433 yards on 269 of 472 passing with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
He was released in 2001 and returned to Birmingham to play for the XFL's Birmingham Thunderbolts. He began the Bolts' single season as a backup to Casey Weldon, stepping in during the 5th game against the San Francisco Demons on March 3, 2001. He passed for the team's sole touchdown late in the 4th quarter of a 39-10 loss. He earned his first start on March 17 at Las Vegas, but failed to score in the 34-12 loss. He suffered a concussion during a sack at Chicago on March 25, ending his playing career.
In August 2001 Barker made his radio debut as co-host of "The Winning Edge" on WYDE-AM. Nine months later he resigned and moved to WJOX-AM (now WJOX-FM), joining Matt Coulter on "The Opening Drive" morning show. He continued to co-host the show with former Auburn and NFL placekicker Al Del Greco and veteran deejay Tony Kurre until February 2018. After that he was hired to host The Jay Barker Show on Tuscaloosa's WTUG-HD2 "Tide 100.9 FM" with Lars Anderson and Antonio Langham.
Barker is also involved in business ventures through FaithWorks LLC, incorporated in 2003, which owns and operates two "Moe's Southwest Grill" franchises at the Vestavia Hills City Center and in the Colonial Promenade at Trussville, and a HomeVestors real estate franchise in Birmingham.
Barker married to his high school sweetheart, Amy DiGiovanna, in 1995 and had three children with her after adopting a boy. The couple divorced in 2007 and he later married country singer Sara Evans. Their engagement was announced on March 24, 2008, and were married on June 14 in front of 145 guests. Their seven children served as attendants at the black and white affair in Franklin, Tennessee. Her son, Avery, walked her down the aisle. Their primary residence was in Hoover, with Sara's home in Franklin serving as their second home.
Evans separated from Barker and filed for divorce in August 2021 and later requested a default judgment due to Barker's failure to respond to filings. On January 15, 2022 Barker was arrested by Metropolitan Nashville Police and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly trying to run down Evans and another person who was bringing her home from a party on Norwood Drive. He was held in jail overnight as a stipulation of a domestic violence charge, and then released on $10,000 bond. After entering a "best interest" plea, he was convicted on the lesser charge of reckless endangerment and sentenced to one year of supervised probation.
- Jay Barker. (2007, June 27). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:39, July 5, 2007 
- Ralph, Dan (January 8, 2001) "Barker bolts Argos for XFL." CBC News
- Nicholson, Gilbert (April 30, 2002) "Jay Barker leaves WYDE, likely for WJOX." Birmingham Business Journal
- "Jay Barker, The Family Man" (June 2002) Birmingham Christian Family
- Stroud, Laurie (November 2003) "Auburn vs. Alabama: Stan White & Jay Barker" Birmingham Christian Family
- "Jay Barker group opening Moe's Southwest Grill." (November 18, 2003) Birmingham Business Journal
- "Country Star Sara Evans Engaged." (March 24, 2008) People magazine.
- Stephenson, Cassandra (January 15, 2022) "Ex-Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, married to Sara Evans, tried to hit two people with car, court documents say." Nashville Tennessean
- Steen, Jason (January 16, 2022) "Sara Evans Filed for Divorce Prior to Jay Barker’s Arrest for Attempting to Run Over Her With a Vehicle." Scoop Nashville
- Gray, Jeremy & Carol Robinson (June 9, 2022) "Jay Barker guilty of reckless endangerment in incident involving Sara Evans." The Birmingham News
- "Jay Barker entered ‘best interest’ plea in domestic violence against Sara Evans." (June 10, 2022) Associated Press / The Birmingham News